Princess Diana never wanted to give up on her marriage to Prince Charles, not even after Charles publicly admitted to his affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles. Here's what finally changed her mind—or, should we say, "who."
When Lady Diana Spencer married the Prince of Wales in a fairytale wedding in the summer of 1981, she had reason to believe he still carried a torch for his former flame, Camilla Parker-Bowles. But Diana married him anyway, hoping for a fairytale ending. Instead, that ending was a rubber stamp on a set of divorce papers in 1996.
Princess Diana and Prince Charles together
Princess Diana and Prince Charles together
BALMORAL, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 06: Prince Charles With His Fiance Lady Diana Spencer During A Photocall Before Their Wedding While Staying At Craigowan Lodge On The Balmoral Estate (exact Day Date Not Certain) (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)
BALMORAL - AUGUST 19: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Princess Diana, Princess of Wales, wearing a suit designed by Bill Pashley, pose for a photo on the banks of the river Dee in the grounds of Balmoral Castle during their honeymoon on August 19, 1981 in Balmoral, Scotland. (Photo by Anwar Hussein/Getty Images)
UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 29: On July 29, 1981, Lady Diana SPENCER (aged 19) married Prince CHARLES (aged 32) at Buckingham Palace. (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 29: Prince Charles And Princess Diana On The Balcony Of Buckingham Palace On Their Wedding Day. The Princess Is Wearing A Wedding Dress Designed By David And Elizabeth Emanuel. The Prince Is Wearing Naval Dress Uniform. (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)
LONDRES, ROYAUME-UNI - 10 MARS: Lady Diana et le Prince Charles discutant avec la Princesse Grace de Monaco au Goldsmith's Hall, le 10 mars 1981 a Londres, Royaume-Uni. (Photo by Keystone-France\Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
(Original Caption) Queen Elizabeth joins the Prince and Princess of Wales on a Buckingham Palace balcony following their London wedding. (Photo by ï¿½ Wally McNamee/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)
The Prince and Princess of Wales arrive back at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland after their honeymoon, September 1981. (Photo by Terry Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images)
The Prince and Princess of Wales at the Braemar Highland Games in Scotland, September 1981. She wears a tartan suit by Caroline Charles and a tam o'shanter hat. (Photo by Terry Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images)
Prince Charles Prince Charles and the Princess of Wales (1961 - 1997, later Diana, Princess of Wales) at Caernarvon Castle during an official tour of Wales, 27th October 1981. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 22: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales leave St Mary's Hospital in Paddington with their baby son, Prince William (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)
Prince Charles and Princess Diana at Uluru, Northern Territory on 21 March 1983. . (Photo by Gerrit Fokkema/The Sydney Morning Herald/Fairfax Media via Getty Images)
UNITED KINGDOM - SEPTEMBER 04: The Prince And Princess Of Wales With The Queen Attending The Braemar Games In Scotalnd (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)
(Original Caption) Melbourne, Australia: Princess Diana and the Prince of Wales share a joke with Australian comedian Paul Hogan at a gala performance in Melbourne, April 14th.
Princess Diana (1961 - 1997) and Prince Charles arrive for a state reception in Hobart, Tasmania, 30th March 1983. The princess is wearing the Spencer family tiara and a dress by Bruce Oldfield. (Photo by Jayne Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 28: The Prince And Princess Of Wales Attending A Charity Ball In Sydney During A Trip To Australia (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)
Princess Diana (1961 - 1997) and Prince Charles leaving St Mary's Hospital, London with their new-born son Prince Harry, September 1984. The Princess is wearing a red coat by Jan van Velden. (Photo by Terry Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images)
Princess Diana (1961 - 1997) and Prince Charles at an Italian naval base at La Spezia, 20th April 1985. Charles is wearing a naval Commander's uniform, while Diana is wearing a white coat dress by Catherine Walker. (Photo by Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images)
The Prince and Princess of Wales visit a church in Florence during their tour of Italy, April 1985. The Princess is wearing a suit by Jasper Conran. (Photo by Jayne Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images)
VATICAN - APRIL: Diana Princess of Wales with Prince Charles have an audience with Pope John Paul II in the Vatican, Rome, Italy in April 1985 during the Royal Tour of Italy.Diana wore a black lace dress designed by Catherine Walker. (Photo by David Levenson/Getty Images)
Princess Diana (1961 - 1997) and Prince Charles on a skiing holiday in Malbun, Liechtenstein, January 1985. The princess is wearing a Head ski suit. (Photo by Terry Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images)
WINDSOR - JUNE 29: Princess Diana, Princess of Wales kisses Prince Charles, Prince of Wales as she presents him with an award following a charity polo match at Windsor Great Park on June 29, 1985 in Windsor, England. (Photo by Anwar Hussein/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - NOVEMBER 9, 1985: (FILE PHOTO) In this file photo issued October 31, 2005, Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales and Princess Diana, the Princess of Wales meet President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Mrs Nancy Reagan at the White House on November 9, 1985 during an official visit to America in Washington DC, USA. Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales is taking his new wife Camilla the Duchess of Cornwall on a visit to the United States which begins formally on November 1, 2005 (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)
VANCOUVER, CANADA - MAY 03: The Prince And Princess Of Wales During A Visit To Vancouver, Canada. She Is Wearing A Suit Designed By Fashion Designer Bruce Oldfield (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)
LONDON - AUGUST 4: Prince Edward, Viscount Linley, Prince Charles, Diana, Princess of Wales and the Queen at the Queen Mothers 87th birthday celebration on August 4, 1987 at Clarence House in London, England. Diana wore a dress designed by Catherine Walker. (Photo by David Levenson/Getty Images)
WINDSOR, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 26: The Princess Of Wales Presents A Medal To Her Husband, Prince Charles, After A Polo Match At Windsor (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)
AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 30: Diana, Princess of Wales and Prince Charles, Prince of Wales at the Central Coast Surf Carnival at Terrigal Beach, Sydney, Australia (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - MARCH 15: The Prince And Princess Of Wales attend a desert picnic on March 15, 1989 in Adu Dhab, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Georges De Keerle/Getty Images)
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - MARCH 16: The Prince And Princess Of Wales On A Walkabout In Dubai On The Gulf Tour. Diana's Outfit Is By Fashion Designer Catherine Walker And Hat By Milliner Philip Somerville. (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)
Princess Diana (1961 - 1997), wearing a Belville Sassoon dress, presenting Prince Charles with a trophy after competing at the Hola Cup polo match at the Guards Polo Club, Windsor, 29th June 1988. (Photo by Jayne Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images)
PARIS - NOVEMBER: Prince Charles and Diana Princess of Wales meet guests arriving at a dinner in the Elysee Palace in Paris, France in November 1988, during the Royal Tour of France. Diana wore a dress designed by Victor Edelstein. (Photo by David Levenson/Getty Images)
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But the truth is, divorce is never what Diana wanted. “Given the choice, she would have stayed and tried to make a happy marriage,” her personal trainer/confidant, Jenni Rivett, said in a recent episode of Yahoo’s The Royal Box. There was just one problem.
Diana didn’t have a choice.
“She loved Charles,” Rivett, who worked with Diana from 1991 until Diana’s death in 1997, said during the episode. She also spoke of the aura of melancholy Diana carried about with her as her marriage crumbled. “She wasn’t the one who wanted to separate or divorce. She was sad about it. She wanted to be a loving wife.” (Find out the real reason Prince Charles proposed to Princess Diana—it wasn’t for love.)
Moreover, she adored her children and didn’t want to put them through what she had gone through as a child when her own parents divorced. Despite the fact that she and Charles had been living apart since 1992, Diana was opposed to divorce, as she made clear in a televised November 1995 interview with Martin Bashir. It was during that same interview when Diana uttered the now-famous line, “Well, there were three of us in the marriage, so it was a bit crowded.”
In that interview, Diana also admitted to an affair with cavalry officer James Hewitt, who by then had betrayed her with his tell-all book about their relationship. Critics of the princess claimed her anti-divorce position was nothing more than an effort to make Charles look bad, theNew York Times reported in 1996. All of this rankled Diana’s mother-in-law, Queen Elizabeth II, who was still reeling from Charles’ 1994 public admission of his extramarital affair with Camilla.
Enough was enough, apparently, and in late December 1995, the Queen wrote to the couple, urging them to get a divorce and be done with it, the New York Timesreported shortly after the fact. A spokesman for the palace said the prince was in favor of a divorce. Finally, on February 29, 1996, Diana changed her mind—reluctantly—and agreed to a divorce. It was finalized in August of that year, and these are the 9 things Princess Diana lost after her divorce.
9 secrets about Princess Diana no one knew about until after her death
9 secrets about Princess Diana no one knew about until after her death
She recorded her thoughts on tape
Much of what we know about Princess Diana’s personal life is thanks to audiotapes she recorded herself. Once she recognized her marriage to Prince Charles was falling apart, she documented her side of the story on a tape recorder and gave the tapes to her close friend, Dr. James Colthurst. He, in turn, gave them to journalist Andrew Morton so her words could get out to the public. From those tapes, Morton published the biography DIANA: Her True Story—In Her Own Words in 1992. No one knew Diana had a hand in the book’s production until after her death. Here are some more surprising facts you probably didn't know about Princess Diana.
Her sister dated Prince Charles
There are definitely ways to improve your relationship with your sibling, but we’re not sure if sharing a boyfriend is one of them. Before Diana and Charles started going steady, he dated her sister, Sarah. She introduced the two when Diana was just 16 and takes credit for their falling in love, calling herself Cupid.
Her grandmother worked for the queen
As prominent a public figure as Queen Elizabeth is, there’s still a lot that the public doesn’t know about her. One of those more intriguing bits of trivia is that the Queen Mother was close friends with Princess Diana’s grandmother, Ruth Fermoy. She was one of Her Majesty’s ladies-in-waiting and later held the title Woman of the Bedchamber, which meant that she was the Queen’s right-hand woman and assisted with important social engagements. Here are some more facts (and scandals!) you never knew about Queen Elizabeth II.
She and her husband were related
The royal family tree can get pretty complicated, but don’t worry, there’s nothing incestuous about this marriage. Princess Di and Prince Charles were distantly related. Specifically, they were 16th cousins once removed, through King Henry VII.
She had a poor sex life
In her tape recordings, Princess Diana discussed her married life in great detail, even calling her wedding day “the worst day of her life.” Specifically, she talked at length about her lack of a sex life, saying that she and her husband had sex but it was “very odd.” By the time she made the recordings, their sex life had been going downhill for seven years. She went on to say, “There was no requirement for (sex) from his case. Sort of once every three weeks… and I kept thinking it followed a pattern. He used to see his lady (Camilla) once every three weeks before we got married.” Learn more about the real story of what happened between Charles and Diana.
She messed up her wedding vows
In hindsight, Princess Diana messing up her wedding vows may seem like a sign her marriage was bound to fail, but in reality, she just caught a case of wedding day jitters. During the vows, she called her husband “Philip Charles” instead of “Charles Philip,” mixing up his first and middle names. Here are some more little mistakes that happened on royal wedding days.
She ate in the kitchen
It was against royal family etiquette to eat in the kitchen with staffers and not in a dining room, but Princess Diana was no stranger to breaking protocol. Her personal chef, Darren McGrady, said she would just walk into the kitchen and eat at a countertop while he tidied up, which was unheard of coming from any royal. She would even make coffee for the two of them. Check out these stunning, rarely seen photos of the People's Princess.
She attempted suicide
One of the most troubling revelations from Princess Diana’s audiotapes was that she struggled with depression and even attempted to take her own life. She said in her recordings, “I was so depressed, and I was trying to cut my wrists with razor blades.” She also talked about having bulimia and that the eating disorder started after Prince Charles put his hand on her waist and said, “A bit chubby here, aren’t we?”
She was harassed by the paparazzi
With three new documentaries about Princess Diana set to premiere, Prince William and Prince Harry are opening up about their memories of their mother. Some are uplifting, like how she involved them in her charitable work. But their recollections of Diana dealing with the paparazzi are disturbing. As Prince William says in the ITV and HBO documentary, Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy: “If you are the Princess of Wales and you’re a mother, I don’t believe being chased by 30 guys on motorbikes who block your path, who spit at you to get a reaction from you and make a woman cry in public to get a photograph, is appropriate. Harry and I, we had to live through that.” Here's how Prince Harry and Prince William are keeping their mother's memory alive twenty years after her death.