Queen Elizabeth II’s death in September ended the longest reign in Britain’s history and began a seismic shift for the majority of Britons who have never known life under any other monarch. Her son Charles III, who will be crowned in the new year, has inherited a number of scandals, including the sexual-abuse allegations against Prince Andrew, who was stripped of his military titles and royal patronages in 2022; and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s self-imposed exile from royal life, which has been dramatically re-litigated in the couple’s Netflix docuseries.
Whether you’re a royal devotee just trying to kill time until Prince Harry’s memoir is released in January or a curious newcomer to the world of Windsor, these five podcasts will provide context and commentary on the latest palace intrigue, fill in the gaps in your historical knowledge and offer some sense of what the monarchy’s future may hold.
As the pace and stakes of royal news have grown in recent years, the hosts of “Royally Obsessed” have been there every step of the way, offering affable and spirited insights. Introduced in 2018, a few months after the announcement of Harry and Meghan’s engagement, the podcast focuses on the Cambridges and the Sussexes, and the increasingly clear rift between them. Early episodes now feel like a strangely poignant time capsule capturing a simpler time for royal fans, as Kaitlin Menza and Lisa Ryan chronicle the run-up to Harry and Meghan’s wedding with infectious enthusiasm and discuss the historic significance of the addition of Meghan to the royal family. In March 2020, around the time the Sussexes said they would step back from royal duties, the current “Royally Obsessed” hosts, Roberta Fiorito and Rachel Bowie, took over the podcast and have been on hand ever since for weekly dissections of every rumour and carefully worded palace statement.
Starter episode: “Decoding the Docuseries”
While the last few years of royal news have been a roller coaster by modern standards, they pale in comparison to the tales of betrayal and beheadings from centuries past. In this enormously entertaining scripted nonfiction show, Dana Schwartz delivers deep dives into how members of the nobility lived and died throughout history. Though many of the sagas covered here are familiar, like the execution of the Romanovs and the unfortunate fates of Henry VIII’s wives, “Noble Blood” never delivers a rote version of their stories. For instance, listeners learn that Marie Antoinette’s final words were an apology to her executioner, for accidentally stepping on his foot as she walked to the guillotine. But the most compelling episodes are often those that focus on obscure figures, like the fearsome Russian empress Anna Ioannovna, who constructed a palace out of ice, which she then used as a torture chamber.
Starter episode: “Ever Dearest Cousin Nicky”
Omid Scobie has become one of the best known royal reporters ever since he, with Carolyn Durand, wrote “Finding Freedom,” a best-selling biography of Harry and Meghan that hinted at behind-the-scenes drama that has since been openly discussed. In this ABC News series, Scobie offers an inside track on many of the monarchy’s recent crises alongside Maggie Rulli, an ABC foreign correspondent, focusing on the diverging trajectories of Princes William and Harry. Though the podcast ended in the summer of 2021, it’s well worth revisiting for anyone seeking insight into the rapidly shifting power dynamics of “the Firm,” a term Harry and Meghan have used to refer to the British royal family.
Starter episode: “The impact of Harry and Meghan’s Oprah interview”
It’s hard to fully understand the inner workings of an institution like the monarchy without a good handle on the centuries of history that have shaped it. Hosted by Carol Ann Lloyd, a writer and speaker whose expertise includes the Tudors, “British History” is a deeply researched treat for anyone who loves a good period drama. Some of her most unmissable episodes revolve around the 15th century Wars of the Roses, which inspired the “Game of Thrones” author George R.R. Martin. In addition to royal history, Lloyd often deviates into other aspects of medieval and Elizabethan England, including several Shakespeare-themed episodes and a mini-series on the history of witchcraft. While Lloyd generally limits her focus to the past, the show will occasionally dedicate an episode to current events when the moment calls for it; after the Queen’s death, Lloyd released an episode in which she put the event in historical context as “the end of a second Elizabethan era.”
Starter episode: “Elizabeth I: Woman & Queen with Prof. Susan Doran”
So many royal-news podcasts offer virtually the same content. What differentiates “Podcast Royal” is the way it capitalizes on the aspirational appeal of the monarchy, delivering royal-approved beauty, health and wellness tips that listeners can incorporate into their own civilian lives. Hosted by Jessica Robinson and Rachel Burchfield, an editor at Marie Claire, this podcast feels like an escapist glossy magazine in audio form, blending commentary on current events with features about the royals’ residences and daily routines, along with longer explorations of how royal traditions have evolved over the years.
Starter episode: “25. Royal Weddings, Part 1: Dresses”