King Henry VIII executed two of his wives for alleged adultery. This was almost certainly true of one of them, Catherine Howard, while the facts concerning the other one, Anne Boleyn, are in dispute.

When King Christian VIII of Denmark married Princess Caroline of Great Britain, as detailed in the movie "A Royal Affair,", the queen's affair with the court doctor (and royal adviser), Struensee led to the man's overthrow and execution.

In a third situation, Isabella, the wife of King Edward II had an affair with Mortimer that resulted in the overthrow and (probable) murder of the king by his wife and lover.

As a commenter pointed out, a queen's adultery would likely threaten the succession, with potentially serious consequences for the country.

Are there any "well known" cases in history where it was established that queen consort of a king slept with someone other than her husband, and no one was executed, or was known to get into serious trouble as a result? If so, what were the circumstances that prevented bad consequences? Put another way, why might the threat to the succession or to the country not seem to matter, in such cases?

(A "queen consort" is a the wife of a king. Queen Victoria, who allegedly had some affairs after Prince Albert died, is not in this category. Elizabeth I was known as the "Virgin Queen.")

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    How would you know? I hear castles have lots of secret passages. Oct 20, 2015 at 19:40
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    If the Queen Consort has an affair and she is fertile, then the line of succession is in dispute - the country is hurt. If she is not fertile, then the line of succession is in danger. Any affair results in danger of civil war.
    – MCW
    Oct 21, 2015 at 22:31
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    @MarkC.Wallace: That's why this is a "non-trivial" question.
    – Tom Au
    Oct 22, 2015 at 14:05
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    Not sure why this is on hold. Trivia? What???? Thiis is frustrating to constantly see this when I come on this site. Oct 25, 2015 at 4:58
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    Seems odd that the accepted answer doesn't fulfill either of the requirements of the question. Khan's wife didn't have an affair and, since Genghis Khan actively lead a raid to get her back, I'd think that those responsible for her kidnap came to some harm.
    – Steve Bird
    Oct 26, 2015 at 12:28

3 Answers 3


Not exactly an affair, but Borte, Genghis Khan's first wife, was abducted by a rival tribe. Genghis Khan didn't care and took her back. Chagatai on the other hand kept accusing his elder brother Jochi of not being his father's son because of this, but nobody paid much heed to it.

Why... I guess Mongols just didn't care all that much since their leader was decided by election anyway.

  • @Steve Bird: This answer cites a case where the king took back his queen consort without penalty to her or the child (even though she had "technically" been with another man), which was what I was looking for. I re-worded the question so it fits this answer. – Tom Au 5 hours ago
    – Tom Au
    Oct 26, 2015 at 19:01
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    @TomAu, The second part of your question states "...no one was executed, or got into serious trouble as a result". In this case the perpetrators, the merkits were wiped out as a distinct group by Genghis Khan and his sons - which strikes me as "serious trouble".
    – Steve Bird
    Oct 27, 2015 at 6:35
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    @SteveBird "After two decades", not to mention even without this event it's not like Genghis Khan would have left them alone. The connection to Borte's abduction is flimsy at best. Oct 27, 2015 at 17:56
  • @SteveBird keep in mind, two decades is how long the Mongols took to conquer the entire Jin Dynasty. If Genghis Khan was angry about his wife's abduction like you say, he sure took his sweet time getting his revenge. Oct 27, 2015 at 18:00

Caroline of Brunswick who was consort to George IV had many affairs (although technically most of them were before she became Queen consort). While her husband ended up hating her, she was popular enough with the people that she suffered only the gossip and disdain of the court.

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    Not a bad answer, although "the dignitaries who led the investigation concluded that there was "no foundation" to the rumours."
    – Tom Au
    Oct 20, 2015 at 21:12
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    @TomAu Given the people involved and the lack of solid evidence (i.e. the word of someone more important than the servants) I suspect that the dignitaries involved took the path of least resistance. However, her later affair with Pergami (described as "to all appearances man and wife") is much less in doubt. Oct 21, 2015 at 21:18

There were rumors of an affair between Marie-Antoinette and Fersen (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marie_Antoinette). The French Wikipedia entry even suggests that Marie-Antoinette had affairs with women (https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marie-Antoinette_d%27Autriche).

There were also rumors of an affair between Cardinal Mazarin and Anne of Austria, some are even suggesting that Louis XIV was the son of Mazarin and not Louis XIII. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cardinal_Mazarin).

But these are just rumors, though they have been around for more than two centuries.

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