The respective backgrounds of the Prince and Princess of
   Wales were an additional challenge in the creation of a
   happy family atmosphere. She had come from a broken
   home, while his upbringing had been formal to say the least.
   His early companion had been his nanny, and he lacked any
   close involvement with his parents. 

   The love of solitude to which the Prince adhered even after
   marriage, combined with his love of polo and hunting,
   inevitably left the Princess on many occasions without him.
   But both parents shared an adoration for their children. 

   Even as the world rejoiced on their wedding day, the
   Princess was aware that she had not entirely captured Prince
   Charles's heart. Yet she always felt that she would win him.
   He most probably felt that the marriage was akin to an
   arranged one, and some have said that he did not enter into it
   in the same spirit as his bride. When the Princess realised
   that Prince Charles was never entirely to reciprocate the love
   she felt for him, she, like many mothers, transferred much of
   her devotion to her sons. 

   The Princess celebrated her 21st birthday in July 1982, and
   that September she represented the Queen at the funeral of
   Princess Grace of Monaco in the cathedral at Monte Carlo. 

   The Princess was soon busily involved in the world of public
   duty. As the years went by, she evolved into a deeply
   committed member of the Royal Family. She swiftly became
   better informed  in the early days of her marriage a Fleet
   Street editor was surprised to hear Prince Charles explaining
   to her at lunch that Chancellor Kohl was the leader of West
   Germany. She also learnt the tricks of the royal trade,
   speaking easily to individual members of the public of all
   ages and possessing a good instinct as to what to talk about. 

   Yet in the early days she seldom made speeches in public,
   and when she did they were of the most formal sort. As she
   gained confidence, she began to write her own speeches,
   delivering them from the podium with calm assurance. She
   spoke of the importance of the family in everyday life, the
   rehabilitation of drug-users, and urged more compassion for
   those dying of Aids. When she and the Prince of Wales
   appeared together in television interviews it was not long
   before she was the more articulate of the two, leaving him
   almost monosyllabic, despite an earlier reputation for fluency.

   The modern manner is for members of the Royal Family to
   be actively involved with any organisation of which they are
   patron or president. Until she gave up most of her charitable
   commitments at the end of 1993, the Princess was never
   merely a figurehead, but served directly as fundraiser,
   promoter, chairman of meetings  and, of course, as public

   She gave her support to an enormous number of charities, in
   a wide range of fields. Among her key presidencies or
   patronages were Barnardo's; the Great Ormond Street
   Hospital for Children; Centrepoint; English National Ballet;
   RADA; the Royal Academy of Music; the Leprosy Mission;
   the National Aids Trust; the Royal Marsden Hospital; Help
   the Aged; and the National Meningitis Trust. 

   An exhausting round of overseas travel was also a feature of
   her marriage. Her first big overseas tour occurred in March
   and April 1983, when she accompanied Prince Charles on a
   visit to Australia. The infant Prince William went with them.
   They travelled extensively from the Northern Tterritory to
   Canberra, through New South Wales, Tasmania, Southern
   Australia, Western Australia, Queensland and Victoria. At
   that time the Australian Prime Minister, Bob Hawke, was a
   committed republican, but he was forced to concede that the
   Princess was "a lovely lady". 

   The Australian trip (followed on that occasion by 12 days in
   New Zealand) was the first of three such visits. In June they
   went to Canada where there was an outbreak of "Di-mania",
   a 1980s equivalent of Beatlemania. 

   In February 1984, the Princess made her first major solo
   visit abroad, to Norway to attend a gala performance of
   Carmen by the London City Ballet. Arriving in the snow,
   she was at once dubbed "The Snow Princess". 

   In the spring of 1985 she and the Prince of Wales went to
   Italy, a 17-day tour which included a visit to Sir Harold
   Acton at La Pietra, and to the Pope in Rome. Venice was
   perhaps the highlight of the tour, and here they were joined
   by Prince William and Prince Harry. 

   In October the Princess spent two days with the 1st
   Battalion The Royal Hampshire Regiment (of which she was
   was Colonel-in-Chief until she relinquished her military
   commitments on her divorce in 1996) in West Germany.
   Following their second Australian visit, they paused briefly in
   Fiji, and rested in Hawaii before visiting the Reagans in the
   United States. The White House dinner and dance was
   typical of the mid-Eighties bonanza-style entertainment
   favoured during the Reagan era, and the highlight of the
   evening was when the Princess accompanied John Travolta
   in a sensational dance to You're the One that I Want (from
   the film Grease), an experience which both enjoyed and
   which served to resurrect Travolta's flagging career. 

   Other destinations during these years included Austria, Japan
   (where there was more "Di-mania"), the Gulf states, Portugal
   and France. 

   In 1989 the Princess returned to the United States, this time
   for a less glitzy trip to New York, where she visited centres
   for the homeless and dying children in the Aids ward of
   Harlem Hospital. She was dubbed, in American parlance,
   "Bigger than Gorby, Better than Bush". There was a visit to
   Kuwait (where security was intense following the Salman
   Rushdie affair), and the United Arab Emirates. In June she
   and the Prince revisited Australia, and in November they
   went on a Far East tour, taking in Indonesia and Hong

   Visiting Nigeria in 1990, the Princess saw much suffering at
   first hand, and pointedly shook hands with the chief of a
   leper colony. In May the same year she and the Prince paid
   the first royal visit to a Warsaw Pact country, when they
   travelled to Hungary. In October the Princess went alone to
   Washington for a ballet gala and to further understanding of

   In November she and the Prince went to Japan for the
   enthronement of Emperor Akihito (a visit surrounded by
   controversy in Britain). There were also visits to Brussels, to
   British troops in Germany, to Prague, and to Expo 92 in

   Besides the birth of her two children, there were other events
   of significance in her years of marriage. She much
   encouraged the union between Prince Andrew and her friend
   Sarah Ferguson, and she was delighted when they married in
   1986. For some years they remained close friends and
   confidantes, and it was a cause of distress to her when that
   marriage came apart in the spring of 1992. 

   The Duchess of York had appeared to be a good ally at
   court, never as glamorous as the Princess, never likely to
   threaten her place in the esteem of the general public, but
   certainly her friend. But the arrival of the Duchess of York
   was, in retrospect, a damaging thing for the Princess of
   Wales, for she began to be tarnished by the new Duchess's
   fun-loving and sometimes irresponsible attitude. 

   The two may have seemed alike in character, but they were
   essentially different, the Princess being a great deal more
   dutiful and less interested in the perks. But the Duchess of
   York influenced her somewhat and it was during the time
   when they were close that the two then Royal Highnesses
   prodded their friends with the tip of their ferrule at the Royal
   Ascot meeting, one of a number of incidents that caused
   Establishment eyebrows to be raised. 

   Each girl represented an alternative fantasy for the young: to
   be like the Princess of Wales was to diet rigorously and
   undertake regular aerobics. The Duchess of York, on the
   other hand, made few concessions and her attitude was
   more one of "Take me as I am". In 1988 they were both in
   Klosters when their friend Major Hugh Lindsay was killed in
   an accident skiing off-piste with the Prince of Wales. This
   tragedy long dampened the spirits of all three. 

   For many years a small circle was aware of the not
   altogether happy state of the Princess of Wales's marriage.
   Much was written about this over the years, but the situation
   continued until The Sunday Times adopted the story in
   1992 and blew it up to sensational proportions. The public
   was left with another dream shattered, and the monarchy's
   image was tarnished. 

   The 1992 revelations suggested that the Prince and Princess
   of Wales had failed to establish a mutually happy rapport
   during their marriage. There were many obstacles to natural
   happiness. With nearly 13 years between them, they were
   almost of different generations, he being born in the late
   1940s, she in the early 1960s. The Prince was always of a
   serious disposition, inflexible in his way of life, not noted for
   his willingness to accept change. The Princess was initially
   more light-headed, though she developed considerably in the
   first decade of the marriage. She certainly entered the union
   with a more generous heart than her husband, who did not
   disguise his anxiety that the taking of a wife was an additional
   burden in an already busy life. 

   Despite her enormous popularity with the public, the
   differences in their interests seemed to divide them
   increasingly as the years progressed. Though they were both
   energetically and successfully involved in public life, the
   framework of their home life gradually eroded. He began to
   entertain separately. She spent more time in London,
   frequently away from Highgrove. Their problems were the
   focus of more attention than any couple could bear. Not only
   did they have to face their respective difficulties, but they had
   to do so in the full blast of media attention. 

   The strain began to show. The Prince of Wales had resumed
   his earlier association with a former girlfriend, Mrs Camilla
   Parker-Bowles. The Princess's name was linked with those
   of two men nearer to her age, the Old Etonian James Gilbey
   and the Life Guards officer James Hewitt. There were clear
   signs of marital discord during a visit to India in February
   1992, when the Princess spent time alone looking miserable
   at the Taj Mahal, and during a four-day trip to Korea in
   November that year, when the Prince and Princess, clearly
   unhappy in each other's company, were dubbed "The
   Glums" by reporters. 

   By the end of 1992, speculation about the state of the royal
   marriage had come to a head, fuelled by the release of a tape
   of an intimate conversation between the Princess and James
   Gilbey. There was talk of separate living arrangements, and a
   suggestion that reconciliation was now impossible. In
   December, John Major confirmed to the House of
   Commons that the couple were to separate. 

   Separation did little to reduce public interest, particularly
   after the discovery in 1993 of another intimate tape
   recording, this time of a conversation between the Prince and
   Mrs Parker Bowles. In December 1993 the Princess
   tearfully bowed out of public life, severing her links with most
   of the charities she had supported and begging to be left
   alone by the press. In 1994 Prince Charles admitted his
   long-standing and continuing relationship with Mrs Parker
   Bowles in a television interview with Jonathan Dimbleby. 

   Despite her pleas for privacy, the Princess remained very
   much in the public eye. As she set about putting her life in
   order during the period of personal confusion that followed
   the separation  visiting gymnasiums one day and
   psychotherapists the next  her every step was dogged by
   photographers and reporters. Yet her relationship with the
   media was always more complicated than she was prepared
   to admit. She may have been unhappy about some of the
   press ambushes, and about speculation on her association
   with married men such as the art dealer Oliver Hoare and the
   England rugby captain Will Carling, but there were
   undoubtedly occasions when she courted the attention, in an
   attempt to influence perceptions of her marriage and its

   Nowhere was this more evident than in her extraordinary
   decision  taken without consulting the Royal Household or
   even her own advisers  to appear on a special editon of the
   BBC Panorama programme in November 1995. She
   spoke frankly about her unhappy relationship with the Royal
   Family, her eating disorders, and her own and her husband's
   adultery. She announced her desire to be seen as "a queen of
   people's hearts". On August 28, 1996, the Prince and
   Princess of Wales divorced. 

   Throughout her marital difficulties, the Princess had remained
   devoted to her sons. After the divorce, when she and the
   Prince were given joint custody, she continued to invest
   considerable energy in their upbringing. She was an adoring
   mother, and there were many images of mother and children
   together, the most celebrated when the children ran to their
   mother's arms on Britannia after a period apart. The
   devotion was reciprocated, and her boys were a great

   After her divorce the Princess made a return to public life,
   associating herself particularly with the work of the Red
   Cross, and taking a leading  and sometimes controversial 
   role in the international campaign to ban landmines. Earlier
   this year she auctioned many of her dresses to raise money
   for charity. She also seemed to find new happiness in her
   private life, spending much of the past few weeks in the
   company of Dodi Fayed, who died with her. 

   When she married the Prince of Wales, Diana said on
   television that she saw her life as a great challenge. Realistic
   though she was at 20 years of age, she underestimated how
   great that challenge would prove and at what cost.


Make your own free website on