The July 1981 wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer came across as a real-life fairy tale to the hundreds of millions of people around the world who watched the ceremony. After years of bachelorhood, the 32-year-old prince had found his princess: a shy, beautiful 20-year-old English aristocrat. However, we all know that wasn’t a happy marriage.
Diana is a 16-year-old schoolgirl when Charles visits Althorp, Diana’s home, as a guest of her older sister, Lady Sarah Spencer. Despite the gap in their ages — Charles is 12 years older — Diana feels the prince appreciates her, later saying, “I made a lot of noise and he liked that and he came up to me after dinner and we had a big dance.”
She excitedly shares the news of her royal encounter after returning to school.
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In 1981, with the press in a furor about Diana, Prince Philip writes a letter to his son, advising Charles either to propose or to end things with Diana to protect her reputation. Charles sees this as an order from his father.
So Charles invites Diana to Windsor Castle and proposes. He expects her to take time to consider the commitment, given the demands that will be placed on his wife and is surprised when she doesn’t hesitate to accept him.
Buckingham Palace announces the engagement between Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer. When asked by an interviewer if they are in love, Diana answers, “Of course,” before Charles adds, “Whatever ‘in love’ means.”
In an interview for a documentary, Charles admits he conducted an adulterous relationship during his marriage to Diana. He explains this only happened after his marriage “became irretrievably broken down.” The prince’s secretary confirms that the prince was referring to Camilla.
A private conversation between Charles and Camilla was also recorded in December 1989; the scandal is called “Camillagate.” The full contents of the alternately racy and loving conversation come out in January 1993, revealing lines like Charles telling his lover, “I’ll just live inside your trousers or something,” perhaps as “a Tampax.”
The separation of Charles and Diana is announced in the House of Commons.
In an interview on the BBC television show Panorama, which was conducted without the royal family’s knowledge earlier in the month, Diana addresses her husband’s relationship with Camilla, saying, “Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.”