Prince Charles' marriage to Princess Diana was one of the biggest events of the late 20th century, but their union failed to live up to expectations due to Charles' secret affair.
Prince Charles's 1981 royal wedding to Princess Diana was not as peaceful as everyone thought. While the couple posed, all smiles, for the camera, Diana wasn't always happy due to the presence of Charles's old lover, Camilla.
Royal biographer Andrew Morton claimed the couple's marriage was not far from crisis due to Charles's insistence on remaining friends with his former flame, whom he met in the early 70s.
[Left] Diana, Princess of Wales (1961 - 1997) attends the Armistice Day wreath-laying ceremony on 11th November 1988 ; [Right] Prince Charles,The Prince of Wales kissing Princess Diana at prizegiving after a polo match at Cirencester. | Photo: Getty Images
To worsen Diana's heartache, Camilla was part of the guests who graced their royal wedding, and while sorting out gifts, the Princess of Wales found an engraved necklace from Charles meant for Camilla.
Diana was more than heartbroken when Charles told her he intended to set aside time for the Duchess of Cornwall. Diana would later claim that Camilla's presence was the main trigger for her failed marriage to Charles.
During her famous 1995 interview with BBC One's Panorama, Diana famously declared her relationship with Charles was crowded. She said,
"There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded."
Toward the latter days of her stay in the royal family, Diana was generous with the details of her doomed life with Charles, including their bizarre honeymoon and the poor treatment she received from the royal family. Here are more details about Diana's life behind the palace walls.
CHARLES AND DIANA'S RELATIONSHIP BEGAN AFTER HE BROKE UP WITH CAMILLA
Diana, Princess of Wales, at home in Kensington Palace, in an undated photo. | Source: Getty Images
Camilla had existed in Charles's heart way before he met Diana. The Prince of Wales met Camilla at a polo match at Windsor Great Park, and the duo had an instant connection.
They began dating, and it appeared as though Charles had found the love of his life. Still, their relationship did not receive the approval of the Queen and the royal family as Camilla did not come from a royal link and was deemed unsuitable.
Her relationship with Charles came to a sudden halt after the Prince went abroad to carry out his navy duty. Camilla then married her boyfriend, leaving the Prince of Wales heartbroken. The duo, however, continued their friendship.
Prince Charles and Princess Diana at home in Kensington Palace with their sons Prince William and Prince Harry. | Source: Getty Images
Princess Diana's first meeting with Prince Charles was far from love at first sight. The duo met in 1977 when Charles was dating Diana's sister, Sarah. The famous couple met at Diana's home.
Sarah ended her relationship with Charles, insisting that she could not see herself marrying the famous Prince. But, her 16-year-old sister, Diana, had a different impression. She told close friends that she would someday marry the heir to the British throne.
Charles later opened up on his first impression about Diana during a 1981 interview. He said, "I remember thinking what a very jolly and amusing and attractive 16-year-old she was. I mean, great fun, and bouncy and full of life and everything."
Diana Princess of Wales and Prince Charles during the Royal Tour of Canada in 1983 | Source: Getty Images
Charles and Diana did not meet again after their first meeting until 1980, when they were invited to stay at Philip de Pass's house in Sussex. The Prince had just lost his friend and a relationship, so Diana felt obliged to keep him company.
Recalling that night, the Princess said, "We were talking about Mountbatten and his girlfriend, and I said, 'You must be so lonely.' I said, 'It's pathetic watching you walking up the aisle with Mountbatten's coffin in front, ghastly; you need someone beside you."
Diana added, "Whereupon he leapt upon me and started kissing me, and I thought, urgh, this is not what people do. And he was all over me for the rest of the evening, following me around like a puppy."
Diana, Princess of Wales at the Lawn Tennis Championships at Wimbledon in 1995 | Source: Getty Images
Regardless of the 12-year gap between them, Diana and Charles began dating primarily via phone conversations. They only met in person 13 times before Charles proposed.
Despite being in love with Charles, Diana began to nurse doubts when the Prince gave a weak response after a reporter asked if they were in love. Diana had confirmed their romance, but Charles simply said, "whatever love means."
The Princess of Wales was dumbfounded by his lack of assurance and later said, "I thought, what a strange answer. It traumatized me."
THE WEDDING FROM THE INSIDE
Princess Diana on an official overseas visit to Italy on April 22, 1985 | Source: Getty Images
Princess Diana's royal wedding ought to have been the happiest day of her life, but the events leading up to the big day worsened her doubts and made her less excited about the union.
The People's Princess detailed the experience in the book "Diana: Her True Story in Her Own Words." In the days leading up to the wedding, Diana discovered Charles still had a soft spot for Camilla and had prepared a gift for her.
The Princess of Wales was livid at the discovery. She informed her sisters of her decision to call off the wedding. Recalling the incident, Diana said, "So I went upstairs, had lunch with my sisters who were there and said: 'I can't marry him, I can't do this, this is absolutely unbelievable."
Diana, Princess of Wales leaving St. Paul's Cathedral with Charles, Prince of Wales on their wedding day, July 29, 1981 | Source: Getty Images
Diana and Charles walked down the aisle on Wednesday, July 29, 1981, at St. Paul's Cathedral in London, United Kingdom. The new bride was feeling in love with her man on their big day, and she noted that "I remember being so in love with my husband that I couldn't take my eyes off him."
But walking down the aisle, Diana became uneasy after she spotted her rival, Camilla. In audiotapes to biographer Andrew Morton, she said, "So walking down the aisle I spotted Camilla, pale grey, veiled pillbox hat, saw it all, her son Tom standing on a chair. To this day, you know – vivid memory."
Diana said she felt like a lamb to the slaughter on her wedding day as thoughts of Camilla filled her mind and ruined her day. She said, "I was very, very calm, deathly calm. I felt I was a lamb to the slaughter."
DIANA'S HONEYMOON AND REVELATIONS ABOUT BEING "THIRD PERSON IN THE ROOM"
Lady Diana Spencer and Camilla Parker-Bowles at the Ludlow Races in which Prince Charles was competing in 1980 | Source: Getty Images
Diana's honeymoon was not what she had dreamed of. On the contrary, it was miserable as she was mostly obsessed with Camilla. The Princess recalled, saying, "I remember crying my eyes out on our honeymoon." She added, "My dreams were appalling. At night I dreamt of Camilla the whole time."
The Princess admitted that her early days as a princess were filled with insecure thoughts. Also, Charles worsened her fears by relying on Camilla for marital advice. Diana felt saddened by Charles' attitude towards their union.
She said she was "obsessed by Camilla totally. Didn't trust him, thought every five minutes he was ringing her up asking how to handle his marriage." Diana felt like she was the least important person in Charles's life, especially when she was with his family.
Princess Diana wearing one of the Royal tiaras, circa 1992 | Source: Getty Images
She recalled that Charles never paid close attention to her as his new bride but instead was on his toes in ensuring his parents were satisfied.
Diana spoke of the incident detailed in Andrew Morton's autobiography, "Diana: Her True Story In Her Own Words." She said of Charles, "He was in awe of his Mama, intimidated by his father, and I was always the third person in the room. It was never, 'Darling, would you like a drink?"
Diana added, "it was always 'Mummy, would you like a drink?', 'Granny, would you like a drink?', 'Diana, would you like a drink?' Fine, no problem. But I had to be told that that was normal because I always thought it was the wife first – stupid thought!"
Princess Diana sitting on a step at her home, Highgrove House on 18th July 1986. | Source: Getty Images.
The Princess of Wales also faced some health challenges in her early days in the royal family. Diana had a well-known battle with bulimia, and soon, comments about her thin frame began to spread.
The mom of two recalled feeling suicidal a few months after their wedding and being attended to by several psychiatrists and doctors who tried to sort her out. But her biggest challenge was Charles's swaying heart.
Princess Diana at a welcome ceremony on 31st March 1983 | Source: Getty Images
Shortly after their wedding, Diana discovered she was pregnant with their first child, William, but the experience was far from pleasant. Diana recalled feeling uncomfortable about the lack of support from Charles.
Charles grew uncomfortable with his wife's frequent illness due to her pregnancy. The Prince of Wales was also concerned about Diana's spell with bulimia and offered her little comfort.
Diana Princess of Wales and Charles Prince of Wales with Prince Harry and Prince William on the deck of the Royal Yacht Britannia in 1985 | Source: Getty Images
Diana spoke of the pregnancy, noting that she "Couldn't sleep, didn't eat, whole world was collapsing around me. Very, very difficult pregnancy indeed."
Diana said her morning sickness was something the royal family did not understand. Her constant fainting spells made them term her a problem.
The Princess of Wales recalled the experience, saying, "So I was 'a problem,' and they registered Diana as 'a problem.' 'She's different, she's doing everything that we never did. Why? Poor Charles is having such a hard time."
Princess Diana in Tasmania for the State Reception in Hobart, 30th March 1983 | Source: Getty Images
Diana acknowledged that her complicated pregnancies made her feel like a burden to the setup. She recalled one awkward moment when she threw herself down the staircase, and to her surprise, Charles was far from impressed.
According to Diana, "Charles said I was crying wolf, and I said I was so desperate and I was crying my eyes out and he said: 'I'm not going to listen. You're always doing this to me. I'm going riding now.'"
The fall left Diana with some bruises on her stomach, but she knew she would not lose the baby. Diana said of the moment, "The Queen comes out, absolutely horrified, shaking—she was so frightened."
Princess Diana giving a speech at the Eating Disorders 93 Conference on April 27, 1993 | Source: Getty Images
Prince Charles and Diana's marriage ended in a divorce, and both parties had their fair share of affairs. Charles and Camilla tied the knot years after Diana's death in a car accident.