The fourth season of Netflix’s series The Crown has dropped, and this time the focus is not on Queen Elizabeth but on her son Prince Charles and his turbulent relationship with Lady Diana Spencer. When they married in 1981, Diana became a real-life fairytale princess for most of the world. But behind the scenes the situation was closer to a dystopia, according to both Charles and Diana in separate admissions. So, how did their marriage fail so spectacularly that people are still talking about it 25 years later? Here are eight reasons why Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s marriage was doomed from the start.
There was a huge age gap between Charles and Diana
Charles met Diana when she was still a young teenager, at a time when Charles was dating Diana’s older sister Sarah. But that relationship was brief. Later, Sarah bragged at playing cupid for the couple when they announced their engagement in 1981. This was not a case of love at first sight, by any means. Charles was in his 30s and heir apparent to the throne. It was expected of him to marry and continue the royal line. But the couple downplayed the gap, with Diana telling the Guardian in 1981, “I just feel you are as old as you think you are.”
Charles and Diana had little in common
Diana and Charles only had a dozen dates before marrying, not much time to get to know one another. But even stranger was the fact that they really had no common interests. Diana was very much a woman of the city, while Charles was a country man through and through. According to the book The Firm, Diana had seemed to enjoy the outdoors only until their engagement, when “she seemed suddenly to hate everything he had thought she loved.”
Diana secretly helped a writer with his tell-all book
When the scandalous book Diana, Her True Story came out in 1992, the question on everyone’s mind was “Where did the author get his information from?” It turns out that the author, Andrew Morton, got the goods straight from the princess herself. Morton admitted as much after Diana’s death in 1997, and later brought up tapes and notes of recorded and written statements to prove it. The book has since been retitled Diana, Her True Story – In Her Own Words.
Charles was having an affair the whole time
Diana famously quipped in a 1995 interview with Panorama that “there were three people in the marriage,” the third being Charles’s former girlfriend Camilla Parker-Bowles. Camilla and Charles had known each other since the early 1970s. But Charles was heir to the throne and Camilla was not considered wife material for a future king. Camilla went on to marry a friend of Charles, Andrew Parker-Bowles, but she and Charles continued their relationship, even up to and after Charles married Diana. And Diana allegedly knew it from the very start.
Diana admitted to having affairs herself
Meanwhile, Diana sought and found comfort elsewhere, first with a soldier, Jeremy Hewitt, and then with one of her bodyguards, Barry Mannakee. Diana admitted to reporter Martin Bashir in a 1995 interview that her relationship with Hewitt soured and he eventually turned the experience into a tell-all book deal. “I adored him. Yes, I was in love with him. But I was very let down.” Her relationship with Mannakee ended shortly before his death in a motorcycle accident in 1987. Of him, Diana said he was “the greatest love I’ve ever had.” But these short trysts were nothing compared to the long affair between Charles and Camilla.
Diana claimed Charles was the trigger for her bulimia
In Morton’s book and interviews, Diana claimed that her problems with bulimia started shortly after her engagement to Charles, when he “called her chubby.” She lost seven inches around her waist between her engagement and her wedding and continued purging herself right through her pregnancy with her first child, William. It was the worst kept secret in the palace, and according to Morton, the Queen herself blamed Diana’s behavior for the estrangement with Charles.
Secret recordings brought out the scandals of Squidgygate and Tampongate
In 1995, some secretly recorded conversations between Diana and her friend James Gilbey were leaked to the public and immediately named “Squidgygate.” This was because “Squidgy” was Gilbey’s nickname for Diana. The press couldn’t get enough of the story, though Diana said many times that Gilbey was never more than a good friend to her. The recording came from 1989, before Diana and Charles separated. Then, another recording from 1989 surfaced, this time between Charles and Camilla, where the Prince of Wales compared himself to a tampon and said that he would “just live inside (Camilla’s) trousers.”
Charles envied Diana’s popularity
One of the biggest challenges to their marriage, however, was Diana’s instant popularity and public success. Everywhere the pair went, the focus remained on Diana. Charles had grown up in the spotlight as the heir to the throne, yet now he not only had to share the spotlight, but he became eclipsed by her. According to Diana’s former butler Paul Burrell, Charles would go on rants after public events, saying, “I married you and made you royal; you weren’t born royal. Why do they want to see you?” Twenty five years after her death, Diana is still stealing the limelight from him.