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The Ugly Truth About King Charles and Princess Diana’s Marriage



The Crown, the acclaimed Netflix series, had been steadily chronicling the narrative of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign, encompassing the triumphs and tribulations she encountered as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and, most significantly, a monarch. The majority of the events portrayed were drawn from reality, with the writers adeptly filling in any gaps through intuitive storytelling.

However, the series had been building up to the pivotal fifth season, which delved into the tumultuous chapter of the royal family’s history, where the genteel proceedings took a dramatic and spectacular turn. While the earlier seasons explored intriguing events, such as Prime Minister John Major’s resistance to the queen’s request for a government-funded yacht renovation, the focal point undoubtedly centered on the disintegration of King Charles and Princess Diana’s marriage.

As depicted in the fourth season, their union was already on shaky ground even before they exchanged vows on July 29, 1981, in front of 3,500 guests at St. Paul’s Cathedral, with an additional 750 million viewers tuning in globally. Nevertheless, following their nuptials, the couple embarked on the presumed long journey ahead, traveling the world, becoming parents to Prince William and Prince Harry, and fulfilling the duties expected of the Prince and Princess of Wales.

In the interview tapes she recorded for biographer Andrew Morton in 1991, Diana poignantly remarked, “I’ve got what my mother’s got. However bloody you’re feeling, you can put on the most amazing show of happiness.”

From the outset, Diana felt unsupported by her husband in her new and weighty role as a member of the royal family. She harbored a lack of trust towards Charles, convinced that he maintained a romantic involvement with his former partner, Camilla Parker Bowles, despite her marital status.

Diana alleged that Charles was dismissive of her overt cries for help, which included instances of self-harm such as throwing herself down the stairs while pregnant with Prince William in 1982. Charles accused her of “crying wolf,” according to her account. Although Charles arranged for Diana to see a psychiatrist in the fall of 1982, acknowledging the need for assistance, he expressed frustration to a friend, stating that progress seemed to be followed by regression.

Aside from her intense love for her children, Diana characterized the two-year period between Prince William’s birth and Prince Harry’s arrival in 1984 as a “total darkness” that she had suppressed due to the immense pain.

Simultaneously, Diana was undoubtedly emerging as a prominent public figure, her ability to connect with people making her more popular than her husband. She reflected that her outward smile masked the reality of her struggles, as it was more comforting for others to assume she was content.

Regarding Charles and Camilla’s relationship during his marriage to Diana, she was infuriated upon discovering a bracelet Charles intended to give Camilla before their wedding. Charles assured her it was merely a token acknowledging their past history together, and he would deliver it in person. Diana claimed she confronted Camilla at a party, stating her awareness of the situation, to which Camilla professed ignorance.

The passage recounts the strained relationship between Prince Charles and Princess Diana in the years leading up to their separation in 1992. It highlights the widely held belief that Charles had resumed his romantic involvement with Camilla Parker Bowles, despite being married to Diana. The narrative unfolds in a formal and objective tone, presenting the events and perspectives of the key individuals involved without overt emotional language or bias.

The passage details Charles’ alleged affair with Camilla, which was suspected by Diana, his close friends, and members of the royal family. It cites Charles’ own admission in a 1994 interview that he had intended to be committed to Diana but resumed his relationship with Camilla after their marriage had irretrievably broken down.

The passage also touches upon Diana’s coping mechanisms, including her decision to immerse herself in her work and public engagements to avoid dwelling on the marital troubles. It mentions her collaboration with Andrew Morton on a biography that would reveal her side of the story.

The events of 1991 are highlighted, including the family’s cruise along the Italian coast, portrayed as a “second honeymoon” by palace staffers, and Charles’ separate sketching trip to Tuscany, where Camilla was reportedly staying nearby.

Overall, the passage maintains a formal and objective tone, presenting the complex dynamics and events surrounding the breakdown of Charles and Diana’s marriage in a factual and impartial manner.

Initially, Mr. Colthurst conveyed to NBC News in 2004 that he commenced by orally reading the inquiries, but Diana found that process too sluggish. “She appropriated the questions from me and then affixed the microphone to herself, and with the tape recorder activated, she proceeded unimpeded,” he stated.

The 1991 Christmas festivities with the royal family at Sandringham were not precisely the pivotal, hallucinatory couple of days that the 2021 film Spencer—featuring Kristen Stewart’s Oscar-nominated portrayal of the princess—would suggest. However, Diana was genuinely endeavoring to discern how to be liberated while simultaneously remaining wedded to Charles.

“I believe I shall pursue a vastly divergent path from everyone else,” she prognosticated to Mr. Morton. “I intend to deviate from this arrangement and proceed to assist the common individual.” She acknowledged that this sounds “so condescending,” but affirmed, “I am being increasingly compelled in that direction.”

Indeed, Charles and Diana’s trajectories had diverged and were at times perceived as competing, such as when Charles sent floral arrangements to Mother Teresa while she was convalescing at a hospital in Rome in January 1992—and Diana personally visited her.

The disconnect persisted when the pair traveled to India together that February, the site of Diana’s infamous solo photographic opportunity outside the Taj Mahal. When queried as to why she described the sojourn as a “healing experience,” she informed the assembled reporters that they could “discern that” for themselves.

The “Squidgygate” scandal refers to the leaked and published transcript of an intimate phone conversation between Princess Diana and her close friend James Gilbey in 1992. The conversation, which took place on December 31, 1989, was obtained and published by The Sun newspaper. In the transcript, Gilbey repeatedly referred to Diana as “Squidgy” or “Squidge,” leading to the name “Squidgygate” being coined for the scandal.

The publication of the transcript was a significant event in the breakdown of Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s marriage, as it revealed the extent of Diana’s unhappiness and the strained nature of their relationship. The conversation highlighted Diana’s feelings of being tortured by her husband and the difficulties she was facing within the royal family.

The “Squidgygate” scandal was a major embarrassment for the royal family and further fueled the media frenzy surrounding the troubled marriage of Charles and Diana. It was seen as a breach of privacy and added to the mounting pressure on the couple to separate formally, which they eventually did in 1992.

The incident referred to as “Tampongate” was a highly publicized scandal that emerged in January 1993, involving a private conversation between Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles. Despite the apparent deterioration of Charles and Diana’s marriage, this incident added further strain and intrusion into their personal lives.

The controversy arose when multiple tabloids obtained and published the transcript of a surreptitiously recorded phone call between Charles and Camilla, dated December 17, 1989. In this conversation, Charles made a remark about his desire to “live inside” Camilla’s trousers, followed by a crass joke suggesting that, given his luck, he would likely be reincarnated as her tampon.

This incident, dubbed “Tampongate,” sparked widespread mockery and criticism, with comedians and public figures ridiculing the future king and queen consort. Dana Carvey, a comedian on Saturday Night Live, even portrayed Charles dressed as a tampon, further fueling the humiliation. The prince’s approval rating plummeted to a mere 4 percent in the wake of this scandal, a stark contrast from the 70 percent favorability he enjoyed prior to his engagement to Diana in 1980.

The incident not only called into question Charles’s fitness to rule but also highlighted the indignities and tortures that Camilla endured due to her love for him. In the same conversation, Camilla expressed her willingness to “suffer anything” for Charles, emphasizing the strength of their love despite the challenges they faced.

After separating from Charles in 1992, Diana tried to spend time away from London as much as possible in 1993, going on official tours to Nepal and Zimbabwe, and vacationing in Bali and the United States with her sons William and Harry.

In December 1993, Diana announced her intent to temporarily withdraw from public life, citing a need for “time and space” to process everything that had happened.

In June 1994, on the night Charles admitted his affair with Camilla in a TV interview, Diana made a bold statement by wearing a daring “revenge dress” to a Vanity Fair party – a short black off-the-shoulder dress that had been hanging in her closet for years.

Diana’s explosive 1995 BBC Panorama interview, where she discussed her marriage troubles and her own affair, was seen as the last straw that led the Queen to write to Diana and Charles telling them to divorce. Charles then wrote to Diana asking to end their “sad and complicated situation.”

After the 1995 interview, Diana chose not to spend Christmas at Sandringham with the royal family that year, breaking tradition.

The divorce proceedings between Charles, Prince of Wales, and Diana, Princess of Wales, were intricate and protracted, reflecting the complexities inherent in the dissolution of a royal marriage. The announcement of their agreement to divorce on February 28, 1996, marked a pivotal moment, yet the finalization of the terms required an extended period of negotiations.

While Diana’s initial statement outlined her retention of the Princess of Wales title, her residence at Kensington Palace, and an office at St. James’s Palace, Buckingham Palace refrained from immediate confirmation, underscoring the delicate nature of the situation. The palace’s response echoed the sentiment expressed during Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s announcement of stepping back from royal duties, emphasizing the complexity and the need for time to resolve the intricate issues.

The terms of the divorce were eventually settled on July 13, 1996, with Diana retaining her home, office, and sharing custody of her sons with her ex-husband. Additionally, she received a substantial financial settlement and an annual allowance for office expenses. However, a notable concession was her relinquishment of the style “Her Royal Highness,” though she retained her status as a member of the royal family.

The protracted negotiations and the eventual resolution of the terms exemplified the intricate nature of royal divorces, which necessitated careful consideration of various factors, including titles, residences, financial arrangements, and the well-being of the children involved. Despite the challenges, Charles and Diana ultimately reunited for significant family events, such as William’s confirmation, demonstrating their ability to navigate the complexities of their situation with dignity and grace.

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