Prince Charles and Princess Diana
The marriage of Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, and Lady Diana Spencer, was supposed to end happily ever after. But, with the benefit of hindsight, it’s fairer to say that it was almost certainly doomed from the start. As Diana herself stated in an explosive TV interview, there were three people in the marriage – the husband, wife and a third woman, the woman who Charles saw as the true love of his life and who he would eventually take as his bride several decades later.
Lady Diana was just 20 years old when she walked down the aisle in Westminster Abbey in July of 1981. The British public, as well as people around the world, were ecstatic. Their future king had found himself a perfect bride. Not only was Diana beautiful, she also had excellent aristocratic credentials and, despite it being the 1980s, she seemed to be happy to play the dutiful, subservient wife. So, when two children, Princes William and Harry, came along, it seemed like a match made in heaven. But soon, issues that had been there from the very start came to the fore.
Diana soon grew tired of the strict rules placed on her by tradition and protocol. She tried to bend, even break these rules and, in turn, the Royal Family saw her as troublesome. By the late 1980s, Diana learned that her husband was not being completely true to her. While a mistress or two might have been acceptable, the fact that he was once again seeing his former love, Camilla Parker-Bowles, was too much. Diana took lovers of her own and, by 1992, the couple had formally separated.
What made the marriage of Charles and Diana so toxic was that, rather than airing their grievances behind closed doors as previous generations of royals might have done, the breakdown of the relationship took place in the full glare of an insatiable media. Diana would make clear that she regarded her wedding day as the worst day of her life. She portrayed Charles as a cruel, uncaring husband. Newspapers and gossip magazines were only too happy to print such revelations. In fact, now, more than 20 years after Diana died in a car accident in Paris – and 22 years after she and Charles divorced – the public appetite for insights into the doomed marriage shows no sign of being satisfied anytime soon.