Once upon a time, there lived a Prince who was looking for a princess. The prince, Prince Charles soon met a woman named Diana, and they decided to marry. But the two were not well matched, and couldn’t live happily ever after. This is the story of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. Though she died 20 years ago, people know Princess Diana as a royal international icon revered for her humanitarian efforts, gentle spirit, and elegant fashion sense. Before she became a princess, Diana was a kindergarten teacher from a respected family of nobility.
Prince Charles, the eldest child of Queen Elizabeth II and heir to the British throne, was a well-educated royal and the epitome of privilege and prestige. He was certainly well-respected and refined, but the idea that a 32-year old man would court a 19-year old seem odd. The two were ill-matched and had nothing in common. It became a loveless marriage that they tried to make work for the sake of the monarchy.
But scandals and affairs ruined their chances of happiness together. Prince Charles was still in love with his old flame, Camila Parker Bowles, and Princess Diana was tired of fighting for his attention and love and started to have affairs of her own. Though they couldn’t make their marriage work, their greatest accomplishments were their sons, Prince William and Prince Harry. The princes carry on Princess Diana’s efforts by keeping her memory alive in charity and international affairs. Follow along with us as we look at the facts you may not have known about the dear Princess Diana and Prince Charles.
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It only took about 6 months of courtship, before Charles proposed to Princess Diana. After spending a weekend with Charles playing country polo, he finally decided he was interested in her. The couple only met 12 times before the proposal on Feb. 3, 1981. Princess Diana often described Charles’ courting as inconsistent. She never knew when he was going to call – sometimes every day, then other times, every couple of weeks. The couple was married on July 29, 1981. decided he wanted to start dating Diana.
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Princess Diana set her own path among the royals often in her international appearances as well as with her fashion sense and decorum. But she was also the first person to take out the word ‘obey’ in her wedding vows. She was a very independent woman and knew going in how strong the pull of the royal life would be on her individualism. Not using ‘obey’ was her notice to the world that she was going to fight to continue to be herself in spite of her new role as Princess.
Diana should have known that dating Prince Charles wasn’t an option as soon as she knew her sister was dating him. Her sister, Lady Elizabeth Sarah Lavinia Spencer briefly dated Prince Charles, but quickly lost interest, stating that she would never marry him. Then she went on to introduce Prince Charles to her sister as a matchmaker for the two. After realizing Elizabeth wasn’t interested, Charles decided to propose to Diana. How romantic knowing your fiancé once dated your sister.
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Prince Charles dated Camilla before he met Diana, but the two broke up shortly before he met Diana. While courting Diana, Charles realized he was still interested in Camilla. Before their wedding, Princess Diana found a bracelet engraved with the letters G and F. ‘G and F’ stand for Charles and Camilla’s nicknames for each other – Gladys and Fred. She instantly knew that the bracelet was for Camilla after she had caught Charles taking dirty to Camilla weeks before their wedding. She confronted him about the bracelet and the phone call, but he made excuses and denied courting Camilla.
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In 1992, author Andrew Morton wrote a biography called Diana: Her True Story in which he documented what Diana had discussed in her tapes with her voice coach about the couple's marital problems as well as her struggles with depression, self-harm, and bulimia. She revealed how harsh criticisms from Prince Charles about her weight prompted her to stop eating and eventually develop an eating disorder. She also talked about her ongoing thoughts of suicide and her two suicide attempts.
During one attempt, she threw herself down the stairs while pregnant with Prince William. She also would cut herself with razors. When the book was published, Diana denied her involvement in its production, but when she died, Morton confessed that Diana had mailed the tapes to him with all the information he needed for the book.
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It’s common for men in power, especially in a royal family, to take a mistress in addition to their wife, so of course, Prince Charles had to be like his predecessors. During his marriage to Princess Diana, he was off and on again with Camilla. According to the controversial documentary Diana: In Her Own Words (based of tapes recorded by Diana's voice coach, Peter Settelen from 1992-1993) Diana revealed that when she confronted Charles about his affair, he simply said, “Well, I refuse to be the only Prince of Wales who never had a mistress.”
Princess Diana and Prince Charles were the same height - 5'10. So why do most of the pictures show Princess Diana leaning on Prince Charles or appearing to look much shorter than him? It could have been that Prince Charles had an insecurity about his height OR maybe he wanted to create the appearance of being taller and therefore dominant over his strong-willed princess. Just speculation, but worth considering.
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During an interview before the couple was married, a reporter asked if they were in love. Diana agreed that they were, but Charles said: “Whatever that means.” As recorded in Diana: In Her Own Words, Diana said, “I was brought up in a sense that when you married someone, you loved them.” Diana: In Her Own Words, the Queen would only say that Charles was "hopeless."
When Charles proposed to Diana, he gave her a beautiful 12-carat oval Ceylon sapphire surrounded with 14 solitaire diamonds and set in 18-karat white gold. The ring was indeed a stunner, but it was the subject of much controversy because it wasn't the kind of engagement ring that royals usually gave their significant others -- especially if their fiancé was in line to be King one day. But it was what Princess Diana wanted, and so Prince Charles presented it to her on that February 6, 1981, evening during a dinner at the Buckingham Palace. The Queen was said to be very unhappy over the choice of the ring because it went against the usual royal protocol of having the engagement ring be custom-made.
Diana's sapphire ring was a ring that had been featured in a Garrard catalog, and the Queen resented that it was a ring anyone could easily buy. The ring now belongs to Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge. Diana had gifted it to Prince Harry in her will, but he gave it to Prince William once he realized how much he loved Kate. When he proposed, Prince William gave it to Kate.
Diana knew Charles still loved Camilla and didn't want to be his second choice, and didn't want to sign on to a sham marriage. But according to biography author Andrew Morton, Diana asked her sisters what she should do about not wanting to go through with the wedding. Supposedly, her sisters told her she had to get married because her "face was already on the tea towels." In Charles: The Heart of a King, written by the journalist Catherine Mayer, it is said that Prince Charles spent the night before the wedding crying over Camilla.
Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s wedding was a wedding that will be remembered forever for its pomp and circumstance and fairy-tale nature. Over 750 million people tuned in to watch and that’s not even including the people who attended. As the couple posed pictures on the Buckingham Palace balcony and waved to onlookers, Prince Charles kissed Diana’s hand. But then, members of the crowd shouted, “Give her a kiss!” and then the couple did something previous royals had never done at a wedding/after-ceremony. They kissed in public. It was an awkward kiss that Charles initiated to appease the crowd, but everyone went wild. Years later, Prince William and Prince Harry would go on to kiss their brides at the wedding celebrations as well.
Diana: In Her Own Words also recounts the time Diana confronted Camilla about the affair. Tired of cheating- Charles, Diana decided to confront his mistress face-to-face. She was unafraid of the scandal that would ensue. In 1980, she decided to attend Camilla's sister's 40th birthday party -- and she wasn't even invited. She let Camilla know she wanted the affairs to end, and for her and Prince Charles to pretending to everyone else that they were not having an affair.
Diana also apologized for "being in their way," but asked them not to act like she was an idiot. Surprisingly, Camilla didn't deny the affairs. She actually had the nerve to basically tell Diana to get over it, since she had the title, the family, and the husband (Everything Camilla obviously wanted).
Two wrongs don’t make a right, but Charles wasn’t the only one having an affair. Princess Diana was known to be in a few side relationships herself. In fact, she dated and fell in love with her bodyguard, Barry Mannakee in 1985. When the affair became public, he was quickly reassigned. Diana also dated Dodi Fayed (son of Egyptian billionaire, Mohamed Al Fayed). He died in the car crash with her in Paris. Diana was also linked to Canadian singer Bryan Adams, Major James Hewitt (a British army captain), and car salesman, James Gilbey. Their affair was the start of a something called “Squideygate” in which Diana was caught on tape having a very intimate conversation with him.
We already know Princess Diana had many affairs, and that one of those affairs was with an army captain named James Hewitt. What many don't know is that their affair was around the same time Princess Diana got pregnant with Harry; and when you look at Harry and his red hair and some of their features. The two of them look very much alike. Charles is certainly not red-headed. Also, the army captain was very close to the boys growing up. It could be that he knew Harry could be his son and wanted to stay close to watch his son growing up. Just conjecture, but anything's possible.
In the tapes of Princess Diana's sessions with her speech coach, Diana didn't hold back about her sex life. She talked about how boring it was since Prince Charles "never saw a real need for it, and they usually only had sex once every 3 weeks."
In fact, she noted that Prince Charles still saw Camila early on in their marriage, but it wasn't as often as how often it occurred after Prince Harry was born. Upon his birth, the royal couple's intimacy practically fizzled down to nothing. It's no wonder she sought attention and love elsewhere.
Princess Diana knew her marriage was in trouble and didn't have many people she trusted to ask for help. So she reached out to Charles' day -- the Duke of Edinburgh. She would often write him handwritten notes (which was one of Princess Diana's favorite things) and found comfort in some of his letters as well. In the end, the Duke acknowledged he was ill-equipped to help, and Diana sought other ways to cope with her failing marriage. She even went to the Queen for help sobbing and begging for help. But she didn't have any helpful advice for her either, and according to
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By the time Queen Elizabeth II understood how bad the state of Prince and Princess' marriage was, it was already in shambles. The couple wasn't having sex much (with each other), and the affairs were constant. In 1995, Princess Diana did a royal tell-all interview with Martin Bashir for BBC's Panorama where she talked about Prince Charles' affair with Camilla, her unhappiness in the marriage, and whether or not Charles is suited to be king. Soon after, the Queen demanded they get a divorce.
Charles signed the papers quickly, but Diana took a while to concede -- probably uncertain what that meant for her life after the divorce. She was right to be worried. In July 1996, the couple was officially divorced, and Diana was stripped of her title and the tiara given to her as a wedding gift from the Queen. She was allowed to keep the other jewelry, use of the private jets, as well as ownership of her Kensington Palace apartment.
When Princess Diana died, she was found with her lover Dodi Fayed. Fans were horrified about her death and pointing fingers at everyone including Prince Charles. They figured that Diana wouldn't have been with a lover in Paris being chased by paparazzi if she was still married to Prince Charles, and if he had never had an affair, they would still be married. He was the common denominator in most of Princess Diana's worst experiences. For a long time after her death, Princess Di-fans felt he was responsible for her demise. They not only blamed him, but they also hated him, and Prince Charles knew the reputation of the monarchy would suffer as a result.
After Diana's death, Prince Charles was emotionally distraught. He turned to the Queen for support, and supposedly she was very cold towards him. Apparently, she didn't understand why he was so upset since the marriage was troubled anyways. Her inability to empathize with Charles forced him to distance himself from his mom as he grieved his wife.
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After the divorce, Charles and Camilla were still dating. When Diana died a year later, Camilla was the one Prince Charles turned to for emotional support. He often tried to incorporate her mistress into his family activities but knew had to also be sensitive his grieving sons who were 15 and 12 at the time. Also The Queen was adamant about keeping Camilla out of the limelight while the monarchy was still grieving Diana. So it took her years to warm up to the idea that Charles and Camilla would be a public item. But Prince Charles never gave up, and the two are married and happy today.
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Perhaps if Prince Charles had married Camilla when they first started dating, Princess Diana could have had a chance at happiness. Charles met Camilla way before he knew Diana. She was then Camilla Shand, and she and Charles were much closer in age than he and Diana. But the royal family disapproved of her as the next princess. According to a biographer Penny Junor's The Duchess: Camilla Parker Bowles and the Love Affair That Rocked the Crown, Camilla was considered to be a more 'experienced' woman and the royal family wanted his spouse to be virginal (if possible). Camilla was also not considered to be aristocratic enough to become a royal.
Charles must have been pretty taken with her because soon after, he was called away to serve in the navy. That seemed like a convenient set of circumstances to give the two space and give Camilla a chance to get back with an old flame. She ended up marrying Andrew Parker Bowles. Years after Diana's death, she married Charles and became The Duchess of Cornwall.
Before Princess Diana me and became engaged to Prince Charles, her family was in good standing with the royal family. That's not entirely uncommon in those circles. But it's interesting just how close they were, given how things eventually shook out. Diana's maternal grandmother, Ruth Roche, Baroness Fermoy, was a lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth (Diana's eventual grandmother-in-law). She was a very close friend and confidant of the Queen. As lady-in-waiting, she acted as a personal assistant and companion to the Queen. She also helped organize many of her parties.
Princess Diana grew up in Park House, which is located on the grounds of Sandringham Estate. The estate has been in the royal family for generations, and is a staple of their real estate portfolio. They host many holidays there, and in fact, Sandringham is where the apples that feed royal babies come from! Diana's mother Frances was born in Park House in 1936, and Diana was born there in 1961. Diana's family leased Park House from the royals for many years. so she spent quite a bit of her childhood hobnobbing with royals before becoming one herself.
Royal brides are bred from childhood, but Diana broke the mold. She was definitely part of that royal life, but she did things her own way. Diana was actually the first royal bride to have a paying job before getting engaged to Charles. Before she met Charles, Diana worked as a nanny and school teacher. She totally laid the groundwork for the brides who came next, too. Her daughter-in-law, Kate Middleton, was the first royal bride to hold a degree from university when she married William and became the Duchess of Cambridge.
It sounds like a bit of a scandal, but it's actually more common in the royal family than you might think! Princess Diana and Prince Charles were both descendants of Tudor King Henry VII. That makes them 16th cousins, once removed. Prince William and Duchess Kate are also distantly related! They're 12th cousins once removed through Sir Thomas Leighton. Leighton was William's 12th generation great-grandfather, and Kate's 11th. We'd love to see a detailed royal family tree to see how many cousins are actually married to one another.
It really was the dress heard round the world. Diana captured our hearts and millions upon millions of people tuned in to watch her marry Prince Charles. So you could almost hear the world collectively gasp when she exited the carriage. Her ivory taffeta wedding dress, designed by husband and wife David and Elizabeth Emanuel, was like nothing we'd ever seen. The dress had 10,000 pearls, and the train was 25 feet long. It was one of the longest royal wedding dress trains we'd ever seen, and the dress would become iconic.
Diana's battles with an eating disorder are well-documented. But it's shocking to hear just how much weight she lost in the months leading up to her wedding to Charles. It took 15 dress fittings before the big day, and the designers ended up having to sew her into the dress because she'd lost so much weight. At each fitting, they had to take it in even more and change the design of the bodice to fit her shrinking frame. At her initial fitting, Diana had a 29-inch waist. On her wedding day, her waist was down to just 23.5 inches.
Princess Diana and Prince Charles divorced in 1996. She was stripped of her title, "Her Royal Highness", but not because of any rules or at the Queen's insistence. It was actually Charles who demanded the title be removed. In fact, the Queen was prepared to allow Diana to retain her title. But Charles had it included in the terms of their divorce, which stated "she is to give up her right to be Queen of England and to be called 'Her Royal Highness'". So while she was still regularly referred to as Princess Diana after their marriage ended, it was no longer her official title.
We've experienced two recent royal wedding events, but it's hard to top the "wedding of the century". By all accounts, neither Diana nor Charles was particularly happy to be marrying one another, and many of the pictures from that day document their apathy about the whole thing. But the rest of the world was still incredibly invested in the wedding! The ceremony at St. Paul's Cathedral was watched by 3,500 people. It was broadcast in 74 countries around the world, and approximately 750 million people worldwide tuned in on the big day to witness the ceremony.
Weddings are usually fun and exciting events, but really people are there for the cake, right? When you have thousands in attendance at your wedding, you don't just get a regular three-tier number. Princess Diana and Prince Charles actually had 27 wedding cakes on their big day. In a weird twist, a slice of their official cake (which was baked by David Avery, head baker at the Royal Naval cooking school) sold at auction in 2014 for $1,375. It was still in its original white and silver presentation box.