Many women are nervous before their wedding day. And as Diana Spencer prepared to wed Prince Charles, she had more than a right to be so, too. After all, she was marrying the heir to the British throne; as such, her life would be changed forever. It’s only now, though – 20 years after Diana’s death – that the princess’ true feelings about her big day have reportedly been revealed.
And one admission in particular that Diana allegedly made on that occasion is heartbreaking, as it may have helped change the course of her life altogether. As it is, though, she ended up marrying at a young age to a man who was in love with somebody else. Charles and Diana’s union, by many accounts, was an unhappy one; it also ended in divorce. And, tragically, just as Diana seemed to be moving on from her relationship with Charles, she was killed in a car crash in Paris.
On the evening of the accident, Diana had been riding in the car with her boyfriend, Dodi Fayed. He, too, lost his life in the crash, as did the driver of the car. But although there’s every possibility that Diana may have one day married Dodi had fate been kinder, she similarly may have been in no hurry to wed again.
After all, Diana had already been tested by her marriage to Charles. She had been only 16 years old when she met the Prince for the first time; he, by contrast, was more than ten years her senior. Yet while many other couples have forged strong bonds despite the large age gaps between them, there was a further potential complication for Diana. As the Prince of Wales, Charles also has privileges few others possess; he, then, was the more powerful figure in their relationship.
But although she might have been young and naive, Diana nevertheless wasn’t completely willing to bow to tradition. Demonstrating somewhat of an independent streak, she chose her engagement ring from a catalog instead of having one specially made for her – a rather unusual step for a royal bride. Snarky commentators would go on to nickname the piece of jewelry “the commoner’s sapphire.”
To the eagerly watching public, though, everything may have seemed fine as the wedding drew ever closer. But the cracks were there all along, it would transpire; they were just hastily glossed over. When Charles and Diana gave their engagement announcement interview in February 1981, for example, a reporter asked them if they were really in love. Charles would answer, however, “Whatever ‘in love’ means.”
And in a later interview, kept secret from the public, Diana confessed that Charles’ response to that question had “traumatized” her. At the time, though, royal followers may have had no idea of any reservations that Diana may have had about her relationship.
Indeed, Diana had spoken privately many a time about her marriage, the lead up to it and the pain she had suffered during it. Until after her death, however, few people knew what she had said or the unpleasant details that she had revealed. Journalist Andrew Morton was one of those who had some idea of Diana’s situation, though, through interviews she had given him for his book, Diana: Her True Story.
And Morton would later write, “It was like being transported into a parallel universe. The Princess talking about her unhappiness, her sense of betrayal, her suicide attempts and two things I had never previously heard of: bulimia nervosa, an eating disorder, and a woman called Camilla.” Camilla Parker-Bowles, of course, was the woman who Charles truly loved.
Furthermore, Diana knew that Charles still held a candle for his Camilla. And perhaps it was this that made her speak four simple but distressing words before her wedding. Knowing that guests were flying in from all over the world, that expensive merchandise was lining every shelf and that the entire world was watching her, Diana, it’s alleged, completely broke down.
“I can’t marry him,” Diana reportedly told her sisters. She must have known even at the time, though, that whether she wanted to or not, she now had no real choice in the matter. “I can’t do this; this is absolutely unbelievable,” the bride-to-be is said to have added. Her sisters, though, allegedly tried to talk her out of this mindset, reminding her that it was her face next to Charles’ on all the souvenirs. Pulling out of the wedding, then would make her at best a social pariah.
So, Diana did her duty, marrying Prince Charles in London in July 1981. In the pews were 3,500 lucky guests, while millions more watched the momentous ceremony on TV. And those onlookers may have assumed that the new princess was perfectly happy, as she smiled and waved to the crowds.
But once the celebrations were over and real life caught up, Diana arguably found herself stuck in a difficult position. To the outside world, she was living the dream: she was married to a prince and had titles and wealth to match. But Diana and Charles were incredibly unhappy. They had little in common, the age gap was too great, and Charles was still hung up on Camilla. Indeed, before long, he embarked upon an affair with the other woman.
It’s said, however, that Diana’s children – Princes William and Harry – brought her solace. What’s more, she reportedly refused to bend to any royal demands about how she should raise them, even driving them to school herself as often as she could.
According to Morton, though, being a mother didn’t stop Diana from feeling the need to confront her love rival. Indeed, in 1989 the princess reportedly encountered Camilla at a gathering and told her that she knew about her long-term affair with Charles. Reportedly, Camilla’s response was, “You’ve got everything you ever wanted. You’ve got all the men in the world fall in love with you, and you’ve got two beautiful children. What more do you want?” Diana is said to have answered, however, “I want my husband.”
This was all despite the fact that Diana had embarked on her own affair during her marriage to Charles. Specifically, her liaison had been with cavalry officer James Hewitt. That relationship, apparently, had lasted five years; it was one to which both would also confess in separate interviews in the ’90s.
Then, in 1996, Diana and Charles eventually divorced. They had been separated for a long time; the Queen herself had even advised them to legally part, so there was nothing holding them back. Reportedly, though, Charles had a little bit of revenge up his sleeve for the woman he was at war with. That’s because – allegedly at the prince’s insistence – Diana was stripped of the title “Her Royal Highness” after her marriage was officially ended.
Following the split with Charles, however, Diana began to put her life back together. She embarked on a two-year romance with heart surgeon Hasnat Khan, for instance, then started to date billionaire Dodi Fayed. On August 31, 1997, though, her life was ended, leaving the whole world reeling and her two sons motherless.
Diana certainly hasn’t been forgotten, though – not least by her sons. Indeed, William and Harry have since spoken to the media about the impact that their mother has made on their lives and the ways in which they have kept her memory alive. Both princes, too, have carried on her tradition of charity work. And when William proposed to Kate Middleton in 2010, he did so with the so-called “commoner’s sapphire.”
Fortunately, however, William and Kate’s marriage appears to be a more content one than that of the prince’s parents. And perhaps there’s a lesson that the royal family has learned from Charles and Diana’s relationship, too: namely, to make sure that the bride and groom are definitely happy to wed before the media circus gets underway.