Charles and Diana’s doomed marriage wasn’t helped by their 13-year age gap (Picture: Getty)
Charles and Diana’s relationship – and the subsequent involvement of Camilla Parker-Bowles – has been one of the most highly scutinised Royal marriages of all time.
What started as a seeming ‘whirlwind romance’ in 1979 soon spiralled, and resulted in infidelity, a bitter split, and a notorious interviews that have marked the Royal family ever since.
It’s since been largely blamed on their age gap, which further drove a wedge between them.
But how did the pair even meet in the first place? How did they get together and what was it that caused the marriage to break down?
Here’s what we know about their relationship…
Charles and Diana’s relationship was complicated and fraught from the start (Picture: Getty)
How did Charles and Diana first meet and how big was their age gap?
Prince Charles and a then 16-year-old Diana Spencer first met in 1977, at which time he was dating Diana’s older sister, Sarah.
In The Crown, Diana encounters Charles at her home, and is dressed like a fae while rehearsing for school’s production of A Midsommer Night’s Dream, and their interaction was brief.
But in reality, according to Daily Times in 1981, ‘As Diana remembers it’, they met in “the middle of a plowed field”‘ at a pheasant shooting.
In the same interview, Charles said: ‘I remember thinking what a very jolly and amusing and attractive 16-year-old she was.’
The pair met again in 1979, and began dating shortly afterwards.
Diana had Royal connections and played with Princes Andrew and Edward as a child, and lived on a house on the Sandringham estate.
As a result, she was already accustomed to Royal behaviour and protocol.
There was a 12 year age gap between them – Diana being only 20 when she said her vows and married the 32-year-old Prince.
By the end of 1981, Charles and Diana had got engaged, married and were expecting baby William
When did Prince Charles and Princess Diana get married?
After passing the ‘Balmoral test’ with flying colours in 1979 – a tested period where she met the entire Royal family for the weekend in their Scottish residence – Charles proposed.
Daily News reported at the time that she was present when the family heard the news that Lord Mountbatten, Charles’ beloved ‘Uncle Dickie’, had been killed in an IRA bombing in August 1979.
In The Crown, this is seen slightly out of date, with Mountbatten’s death seemingly spurring Charles on to find a wife, and then rushing things through with Diana as a result.
In Diana: Her True Story, it’s stated that the death made them closer, as Charles was ‘terribly lonely’.
Their engagement was made official on 24 February 1981, and they were married six months later on 29 July at St Paul’s Cathedral in London. More than 750million people tuned in to watch the Royal wedding.
By November, the pair had announced they were expecting their first child together, William.
The pair got engaged after she passed ‘the Balmoral test (Picture: Getty)
When did Diana and Charles get divorced?
Diana and Charles announced they were splitting in December 1992, soon after the breakdown of their relationship became public knowledge.
This included infidelity on both sides of the marriage.
Despite this, they remained lawfully together under the agreement that Diana would still assume a role within the Royal family, including joining Charles in succession when he was to replace Queen Elizabeth and become King.
However, their split became more public and messy after tapes of private conversations showing their infidelity were exposed – they’re now known as the Camillagate and Squidgygate tapes.
In December 1995, the Queen wrote to them requesting their divorce be finalised – which they finally did on August 28, 1996.
How involved was Camilla Parker-Bowles in Charles’ relationship with Diana?
In November 1995, Princess Diana held a controversial interview with Martin Bashir, during which she summed up the relationship with one sentence.
’Well, there were three of us in this marriage,’ she told the reporter. ‘So it was a bit crowded.’
Reports from inside the marriage claim Charles and Camilla, who dated when they were younger, had rekindled their relationship from around 1980 – a year before Diana and Charles married.
The affair was later exposed in biography Diana: Her True Story in 1992, followed by the release of recorded conversations between Camilla and the Prince in 1993.
In the conversations, the pair spoke intimately about their relationship, including one graphic moment where Charles compared himself to Camilla’s tampon.
Charles later came clean about their relationship, and said they had privately become an item in 1986 after his marriage to Diana had ‘irretrievably broken down’.
The Crown season 4 is available now on Netflix.
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