The relationship of Prince Charles and Princess Diana has been the subject of comment since the day they were first photographed together. Speculation around the relationship between the two has continued for decades, despite their marriage having ended – and Diana tragically passing away – more than two decades ago. Why? It might have something to do with the fact new information regarding the two continually escapes, like this report of what Charles told his friends just hours before marrying Diana.
A new documentary indicates that the breakdown of Diana and Charles’ relationship may well have been inevitable, given concerns he expressed prior to their wedding.
The degree to which Diana and Charles were happy with their arrangement to be wed has been disputed for years, with many claiming that neither of them were confident in the match, or particularly enthused about the idea of being married to each other. New revelations, however, have shown Charles might have confided his fears to friends hours before the wedding itself.
The documentary, which goes into the details behind the royal wedding, reported that Charles had serious misgivings about he and Diana’s ability to survive as a married couple.
One of Charles’ main concerns was that the age difference between he and Diana was going to be insurmountable. Diana was 19 at the time while Charles was 32, and the age gap was thought, even by those close to the couple, to be a major obstacle to the success of their relationship.
Charles was far from the only one to have serious doubts about the marriage however, as Diana was increasingly worried that their life together might be difficult. Diana’s chief cause for concern was her suspicion regarding the relationship between Charles and Camilla.
Diana was even said to have pressed Charles’ closest friends about the nature of he and Camilla’s relationship, hoping to find some clarity with regard to whether or not they were pursuing an affair.
These worries were exacerbated just days before the wedding, when Diana reportedly noticed a package with Camilla’s name on it on the desk of Charles’ secretary.
After demanding to be shown the contents, she was confronted with a bracelet, which bore the letters G and F. This was a reference to Gladys and Fred, the nicknames Charles and Camilla had for each other. This was a major blow for Diana, and confirmation of her worst fears regarding Charles’ feelings for Camilla.
A rocky start
The discovery of this bracelet may well have precipitated the downfall of Diana and Charles’ marriage, as she now had confirmation that he harbored considerably stronger feelings for Camilla than he did for her. However, their marriage was one populated by setbacks from the start, and we do mean the very start.
A mistake during a wedding ceremony is unwelcome at the best of times, let alone when hundreds of millions of people are watching you marry into a family bound entirely by tradition and strict rules.
A change in the script
Another part of the wedding ceremony that offered considerable cause for comment was the omission of a particular set of vows. At Diana’s direction, the promise to obey that is present in the Church of England’s vows for women was removed, and indeed she did not repeat it during the ceremony.
This created considerable conversation, as nobody had altered the vows in a royal wedding for years. The change was a clear indicator of Diana’s free spirit and strong will, which would cause rifts between she and the royal family over the years.
A honeymoon period
After the wedding, Diana and Charles’ marriage was a notoriously rocky one. They didn’t even get a honeymoon period, with Diana reportedly angry that Charles was ignoring her somewhat during their honeymoon.
The two experienced severe difficulties throughout their marriage as the differences between them only grew. Their problems had a very negative effect on Diana’s health, and despite the birth of their sons, and attempts by The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh to reconcile the couple, their problems proved insurmountable.
One of the major obstacles that Diana and Charles faced was the infidelity that the two of them were supposed to have engaged in throughout their marriage. Despite the fact that Charles and Camilla had supposedly ended their relationship prior to the wedding, in time rumors started up again that Charles and Camilla had resumed their affair.
Diana is said to have confronted both Charles and Camilla about this at separate times, engaging in a huge row with the prince.
There was, however, also consistent speculation that Diana was cheating on Charles, with several different affairs being rumored over their time together as husband and wife. One affair that was confirmed was her relationship with James Hewitt, who had been a riding instructor for the family.
The two were said to have had an affair that lasted from 1986 to 1991, with it even being suggested that Hewitt was Prince Harry’s real father. This was dismissed as untrue though, as the affair was revealed to have started after Harry’s birth.
A serious split
Eventually, the weight of Diana and Charles’ differences, along with their respective affairs, led to a separation, and they couple ultimately divorced slightly later. The break-up of their marriage was a hugely controversial issue, as the couple arguably had the most famous relationship in the world at the time.
It impacted both of their reputations massively, and led to even greater public speculation. It also stood to affect Charles’ ability to remarry, given that the Church did not relish the idea of a divorced and remarried monarch, as the monarch is the official head of the Church.
Diana and Charles’ divorce would have massive ramifications for both the public and the Royal Family, but for none more so than the two of them. The mark of their relationship would not fade quickly, and despite their divorce they were still influencing one another’s lives.
One story details Diana’s attempt to choose an outfit for a charity event in Australia. Her stylist presented her with a pair of Chanel shoes, which Diana promptly rejected, as the linked Cs of the logo reminded her of Camilla and Charles.
A powerful garment
One of the most iconic moments detailed after Diana and Charles’ divorce came with a choice as simple as picking a dress to wear. The night of a Vanity Fair party in 1994, Diana attended the function in a striking, form-fitting black dress that was far outside what a royal or former royal would be expected to wear.
The change was supposed to have been prompted after a televised interview the same day with Prince Charles, in which he admitted to cheating on Diana. What would have been Charles’ big day instead became Diana’s, and the one on the front pages the next day was her. The garment was afterward dubbed the revenge dress.
There are mixed reports regarding Diana’s relationship with the rest of the Royal Family, especially regarding The Queen. The Queen and Prince Philip were said to have tried to help fix Diana and Charles’ marriage, and after it became clear that it could not be repaired, attempted to unsuccessfully rein in her behavior somewhat.
As opposed to Charles, Queen Elizabeth is said to have been willing to let Diana maintain the title of Her Royal Highness after the divorce. However, it was also said that The Queen resented Diana somewhat, for being much more popular.
A new happiness
One of Diana’s more famous relationships after the divorce was with Dodi Fayed, the son of billionaire, and owner of Harrods in London, Mohammed Al-Fayed. The two were said to have enjoyed a whirlwind romance…
In which Diana was completely swept off her feet by the feelings she and Dodi had developed for each other. Unfortunately, despite the happiness the two had found with each other, Dodi was also a victim of the car crash that would claim both their lives.
Out of her element
Despite her overwhelming popularity, Diana was said to have been very at odds with the public nature of her life as a royal, and the attention that came with it. It’s reported that she was nervous around new people her whole life, even taking speaking lessons at one point to boost her confidence.
Diana would frequently express a desire to get away from the limelight that she was so constantly in, to be able to live her life in peace and anonymity.
However, regardless of her wish to be unknown, Diana was a figure of mass interest and adoration. She was the most popular member of the Royal Family by far, with the perceived unfair treatment of her at their hands damaging their reputation and public image in quite a serious way.
Throughout her life she was involved in several different kinds of activism, paying specific attention to the HIV/AIDS crisis, the clearing of landmines left by war, and cancer research.
Unfortunately, it would be Diana’s immense popularity that led to her tragic passing. The hounding of Diana by the paparazzi had reached near unbearable levels, and on August 31 1997, her car crashed while trying to avoid the paparazzi in Paris.
Only Diana’s bodyguard, Trevor Rees Jones, survived the collision, and news of the car crash quickly spread around the world. The media was condemned by Diana’s family and members of the public for the part they played in the tragedy.
Given her influence and profile, Diana’s funeral was a national event in Britain. Over 3 million people flocked to the streets of London to watch, with millions more watching the ceremony on television. Mourners would come to Diana’s home of Kensington Palace to pay their respects.
Over 1 million bouquets were left outside the palace, forming a pile 5ft deep, and her family home of Althorp in Northamptonshire, England, had to ask people to stop bringing flowers, as the number of people and flowers crowding the surrounding roads were said to be posing a danger to safety.
The period after Diana’s passing also saw a massive drop in public opinion of the Royal Family. They had already been criticized for being too cold and unfair to Diana, and these accusations only increased after her passing.
Buckingham Palace was widely condemned by the public for not flying the royal flag at half-mast, despite the reason for this being that no flag was being flown as The Queen was not in Buckingham Palace at the time. The royals continued to suffer from poor opinion for some time after the funeral.
The loss of a mother
Diana’s passing was obviously very difficult for William and Harry, who were 15 and 12 at the time. They have spoken openly about the difficulty they faced growing into adulthood having lost their mother, with Prince Harry having admitted that the event caused a very potent depression in him.
It has also informed their relationship with the press a great deal. To this day, they maintain a very careful and tightly curated interaction with the media, even more so now that the two of them are married and have had children of their own.
After Diana passed away, Prince Charles released a statement stating that he had no intention of remarrying. In time however, he did rekindle his relationship with Camilla, she having also divorced Andrew Parker-Bowles.
The relationship was controversial at first, with the public generally disapproving of what they saw as an insult to Diana’s memory. However, the Royal Family began a rigorous effort to improve Camilla’s image, and in 2005 the two married, with the support of the majority of the public.
An influential couple
To this day, Diana and Charles’ relationship has had a lasting impact on the Royal Family. Diana’s willfulness set a new precedent for how royals could act, with a legacy that offered freedom to Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle when they married into the family.
Their divorce also loosened up the rigidity with which the monarchs were supposed to live their lives, and made remarriage a much more palatable idea. In a way, the chaos of Diana and Charles’ marriage had positive effects, breaking down walls and ultimately giving the royals more space to breathe.
An unusual advice
However, it’s still unsettling to know there were so many ill feelings about this marriage, even before it started. We now know that both Charles and Diana had their doubts about their union prior to their wedding day – but as it turns out, they weren’t the only ones.
Someone close to Prince Charles actually gave him a very unusual wedding advice some time before the big day. What was the advice? To not get married at all.
This revelation was made by two royal biographers: Sally Bedell Smith, who wrote Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life; and Penny Junor, responsible for the book The Duchess: The Untold Story.
According to both authors, it was the prince’s cousin Norton Knatchbull and his wife Penelope who told him not to marry Lady Diana Spencer. And apparently, one of their concerns had also crossed Charles’ mind, as we’ve learned earlier.
Nothing in common
Telling a cousin (or any other person, for that matter) they shouldn’t marry someone is not an easy thing to do, but apparently, Norton Knatchbull felt like his reasons were strong enough for him to take this liberty.
According to the books, Norton and Penelope shared Prince Charles’ fear that the age difference between him and his bride would be a problem in their lives. The couple believed they wouldn’t have anything in common, and urged Charles to take their advice into consideration.
Making matters worse
Author Bedell Smith also wrote that Penelope had another concern about the upcoming union of Charles and Diana – apparently, she questioned Diana’s motivations for wanting to marry a royal, and she wondered about the true intentions behind their relationship.
According to the writer, Penelope didn’t seem to have a good impression of Diana, as she allegedly said the soon-to-be princess looked as though she was auditioning for the main role in a costume drama. Ouch!
Facts or fiction
Whether or not this is true, we do know that Charles married Diana, and they were unhappy for a large part of their marriage. And author Penny Junor claims that in one of those unhappy moments, Charles told Diana what his cousin had said about her.
It supposedly happened in the middle of “yet another screaming match,” when the prince exclaimed he “should have listened to Norton,” who had told him never to marry her. Diana’s alleged reaction? To ban the Knatchbulls from visiting their home ever again.
Looking in hindsight
As we’ve mentioned, both Charles and Diana had their doubts about the nuptials long before they actually happened. This is no surprise, since they only met 12 times before the fateful proposal happened.
But the doubts weren’t just expressed in words. Apparently, their whole body language spoke even louder than anything they could have said. In one of the recent documentaries about their lives, BBC journalist Angela Rippon reveals new details she noticed in hindsight when interviewing the couple one month prior to the wedding.
Tense body language
Looking back at filmed interview, Rippon claims that she noticed the tension rolling off of both Charles and Diana. She claims that on one instance, when she tells them she wishes them a “lifetime of happiness,” both act very strangely.
Rippon described how she got the feeling Charles was more relaxed in his sitting posture than Diana. She described how Diana was “slumped” in the chair, with her shoulders up. After Rippon’s statement, she described how Charles looks towards Diana after the statement as if waiting for her reaction. Diana catches his eye and looks at floor immediately.
The awkward proposal
According to royal expert Ingrid Seward, the proposal itself was also not the most romantic of gestures. Charles came to Diana, trying to warm up the atmosphere by telling her that he missed her, before taking her to the castle’s nursery. There, he went down on one knee. Her reaction, however, was one he didn’t expect.
Diana immediately started laughing. Seward claims that this was due to nerves. Another source claims that this was because she completely didn’t see it coming. However, the minutes after the anti-climactic proposal, Charles picked up his phone.
Trying to love each other
But despite the talk of tensions before and after the wedding, some people claim that the two did in fact wanted it to work. Mary Robertson, Diana’s former employer, gave her first-ever TV interview in the documentary For Charles and Di: The Truth Behind Their Wedding.
In her interview, Robertson claims that the Princess of Wales was actually “very much in love” with Charles, or his image. The documentary’s narrator claims that Charles, on his part, said that he was “sure he could” love her, even if he didn’t at the time.
Not wanting to divorce
In fact, Diana’s personal trainer and confidant, Jenni Rivett, the Princess didn’t even want to end the marriage to begin with. Rivett claimed that Diana “loved Charles,” wanting to be a “loving wife” to him. She was actually sad about the prospect of divorcing him.
Many also speculated that the reason she didn’t want to divorce her husband, despite knowing of his affair with Camilla, was because of their children. Diana’s own parents divorced when she was young, and she didn’t want Harry and William to go through the same painful experience.