Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s Tortured Relationship

The history of Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales, is not that of unhappy lovers. Told non-stop in films, TV shows, telly books and the gossip pages, it’s the story of a woefully mismatched couple who are hailed as the future of the English monarchy, and whose divorce almost wiped out the British Crown. Plagued by infidelity, allegations and deliberate press leaks, the ‘War of the Waleses’ gripped the world. But throughout the 20-year odyssey of Princess Diana and the then-Prince of Wales, there were moments of genuine affection, no matter how fleeting. “We fell in love little by little,” Princess Diana told the biographer Andrew Morton. “It wasn’t really dramatic. One blink and it would have been gone.”

1977: Charles and Diana meet

16-year-old Lady Diana Spencer and 29-year-old Prince Charles meet at their ancestral home in Althorp in the fall of 1977. At the time, Prince Charles was casually dating Diana’s brave older sister Lady Sarah McCorquodale. “I remember thinking what a very happy, amusing and attractive 16-year-old she was,” Charles recalled. “I mean lots of fun and bouncy and full of life and everything.”

The seeds are planted for a courtship that will captivate the nation and beyond. “He met Miss Right and she met Mr. Right,” her sister Sarah later said. “You just clicked. They share the same snickering sense of humor and both love ballet and opera and sports in all forms. It’s perfect and they’re both over the moon about it.”

Charles and Diana pose for photos at Buckingham Palace after announcing their engagement. Hulton German/Getty Images.

1980: Advertising begins

Prince Charles and Diana begin to fall in love in July 1980 while they are both staying with their mutual friend, Philip de Pass, in Sussex. There, the sensitive Diana comforts Prince Charles over the recent murder of his beloved father figure, Lord Mountbatten. Princess Diana recalled the conversation in Diana: Her true story:

“I said, ‘You looked so sad walking down the aisle at Lord Mountbatten’s funeral.’ I said, “That was the most tragic thing I’ve ever seen. My heart bled for you as I watched. I thought, ‘That’s wrong, you’re lonely – you should have someone to take care of you.’ In the next minute he was practically jumping at me and I found that very odd too and wasn’t quite sure how to deal with it.”

1981: The infamous engagement

In February 1981, the Prince of Wales proposed to Diana at Windsor Castle. “In my enormous immaturity, I thought he was very much in love with me, which he was, but he always had a kind of infatuated look about him when he looked back at it, but it wasn’t the real kind,” Princess Diana recalled . “‘Who was that girl who was so different?’ But he couldn’t understand it because his immaturity was quite high in that department as well.”

The couple’s awkwardness will be shown to the full at their formal engagement press conference on February 24. When asked by reporters if they’re in love, Prince Charles cynically replies, “Whatever love means,” prompting Diana to roll her eyes and giggle. “A lot of people got married with that age difference,” Prince Charles continues. “You are as old as you feel. I think Diana will keep me young apart from everything else…. I will be exhausted.”

The radiant 19-year-old Lady Diana strikes a more upbeat note. “With Prince Charles by my side,” she enthuses, “I can’t go wrong.”

Charles and Diana on the balcony of Buckingham Palace after their wedding.From Getty Images.

The wedding of the century

Prince Charles and Diana wed on July 29, 1981 at St. Paul’s Cathedral. Around 750 million television viewers are watching. According to Princess Diana, the couple had only met 13 times and she has deep reservations after discovering Charles’ lasting affection for his former girlfriend Camilla Parker Bowles. However, acc Diana: Her true storyHer sisters tell her, “‘Duch, your face is on the tea towels, so it’s too late to freak out.'” Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s Tortured Relationship

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