Why Did Prince Charles & Diana Divorce? It Shook The Royal Family

After a tumultuous publicized relationship that stunned the world, many Royal fans and watchers of Netflix’s The Crown are wondering: why did Princess Diana and King Charles II divorce?

Princess Diana and the now King Charles wedded on July 21, 1981, in St. Paul Cathedral in London. The wedding amassed over 750 million TV viewers from all over the world. In the documentary, Diana: In Her Own Words, based on the bestselling book, Diana said in an audio recording about the wedding, “I don’t think I was happy. I never tried to call it off, in the sense of really doing that, but I think [it was] the worst day of my life.” Shortly after the wedding, Diana gave birth to Prince William in 1982 and to Prince Harry in 1984.

Prince William

The Prince and Princess of Wales always had a close eye on them and the media. Five years into the marriage, there were growing speculations that the couple was facing hardships regarding extramarital affairs and more ongoing disagreements. The couple was dubbed “The Glums” because of how unhappy they were during the marriage. By 1992, Prime Minister John Major announced that Charles and Diana were separating “amicably” and had “no plans to divorce.” However, by 1996, they finalized their divorce after Diana agreed.

Read below to read about Princess Diana and King Charles’ divorce and why they chose to split.

Why did Princess Diana and King Charles separate?

Princess Diana, King Charles
Image: Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Why did Princess Diana and King Charles separate? Princess Diana and King Charles split due to Charles’ affair with his current wife Camilla Parker Bowles. Though Diana later admitted to affairs while she was married to Charles, this particular affair with Camilla seemed to rock the world.

Diana first confronted Camilla about her knowledge of the affair. In a conversation between the two of them that was recorded in Andrew Morton’s book, Diana: In Her Own Words. Diana told Camilla, “I know what’s going on between you and Charles and I just want you to know that.” Camilla then retaliated, “You’ve got everything you ever wanted. You’ve got all the men in the world fall in love with you and you’ve got two beautiful children, what more do you want?”Diana responded, “I want my husband.”

British Prime Minister John Major announced the Prince and Princess of Wales’ separation in December 1992. The prime minister affirmed that the two would have “no constitutional implications and that they would “from time to time attend family occasions and national events together.” However, there wasn’t a plan to finalize their divorce.

The couple was also embroiled in two separate scandals where the British media released their private calls. The first set of calls evolved into a scandal and news story by The Sun called Squidgygate where Diana and her friend James Gilbey called each other affectionate names on their phone calls. A later, and much more known, scandal that affected their marriage was Camilagate where Charles is heard talking very intimately to Camila, much to the public’s shock. Charles later admitted to cheating on Diana in an interview with ITN. On asked if he was faithful to his wife, he answered, “Yes,” Then after a slight pause he added, “Until it became irretrievably broken down, us both having tried.”

In her interview with Panorama, the late princess famously said they, “didn’t want to disappoint the public.” She would also talk openly about the misery of the royal family and her own relationships with other men. When she was asked if she was “unfaithful” she responded, “Yes. I was in love with him. But I was very let down.”

Why did Princess Diana and King Charles divorce?

Princess Diana, King Charles
Image: John Rogers/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Why did Princess Diana and King Charles divorce? Per a New York Times article released on December 21, 1995, Buckingham Palace released a statement that the Queen had written to Charles and Diana urging them to divorce. On February 29, 1996, Princess Diana announced that she would be agreeing to divorce Prince Charles, “The Princess of Wales has agreed to Prince Charles’s request for a divorce. The Princess will continue to be involved in all decisions relating to the children and will remain at Kensington Palace with offices in St. James’s Palace. The Princess of Wales will retain the title and be known as Diana, Princess of Wales.” Diana’s lawyer, Anthony Julius, released a statement to BBC News, saying, “It was an exceptionally difficult decision and one which the Princess of Wales has taken with immense sadness and regret.”

Buckingham Palace released its own statement regarding the divorce. They said, “We can confirm that the Prince and Princess of Wales had a private meeting this afternoon at St. James’s Palace. At this meeting details of the divorce settlement and the Princess’s future role were not discussed. All the details on these matters, including titles, remain to be discussed and settled. This will take time.” The marriage was officially dissolved on August 28, 1996.

What were Princess Diana and King Charles’ divorce terms?

Prince Charles, Princess Diana
Image: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

What were Princess Diana and King Charles’ divorce terms? The Prince and Princess of Wales had a lot on their stakes when they divorced. When they divorced, Buckingham Palace announced, via The New York Times,  that Diana was able to hold her Princess of Wales titles. However, she was stripped of “Her Royal Highness” titles. They also said that Diana will always be “regarded as a member of the royal family” and “will from time to time receive invitations to state and national public occasions” at the invitation “of the sovereign or the Government.”

Buckingham Palace also allowed Diana to keep her apartment at Kensington Palace “with the Queen’s agreement.” She was given access to the jets used by the royal family, and she was also allowed “to use the state apartments at St. James’s Palace for entertaining.” Diana was also awarded a lump sum instead of monthly alimony checks, and the amount was said to be $22.5 million in cash plus $600,000 a year for her office.

In regards to custody, Charles and Diana reportedly spilt custody between Prince Harry and Prince William. However, this was the norm when the couple separated, and the two sons were attending boarding school at the time.

What happened after Princess Diana and King Charles’ divorce?

Princess Diana, King Charles
Image: Getty Images

What happened after Princess Diana and King Charles’ divorce? Shortly after the divorce, Princess Diana was speculated to be in a relationship with Emad “Dodi” Fayed, an Egyptian businessman. Meanwhile, Charles pursued a relationship with his girlfriend Camilla Parker Bowles and married her on April 9, 2005.

On August 31, 1997, Diana was killed after her car crashed in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel in Paris, France, following a chase from the paparazzi. She was 36 years old. Dodi Fayed, and the driver of the Mercedes-Benz W140, Henri Paul, were also pronounced dead at the scene. Diana’s bodyguard, Trevor Rees-Jones, survived the crash with serious injuries. Diana, who was still alive at the scene of the crash but was in critical condition, was rushed to the Pitie-Salpetriere Hospital where she died.

Charles was pronounced King on September 10, 2022, after his mother Queen Elizabeth passed on September 8, 2022, in Balmoral Castle, Scotland. Buckingham Palace confirmed the date of King Charles III’s coronation will be on May 6, 2023.

Diana: Her True Story—In Her Own Words
Image: Courtesy of Thorndike Press.

For more about Princess Diana, read Andrew Morton’s biography, Diana: Her True Story — In Her Words. The New York Times bestseller, which was first published in 1992, is the only authorized biography about Princess Diana. The book, which Diana collaborated on, includes raw and unfiltered quotes from the Princess of Wales about her unhappy marriage to Prince Charles, her relationship with Queen Elizabeth II, her life in the House of Windsor, and her hopes, dreams and fears for her children, Prince William and Prince Harry, before her death in 1997. The biography, which has been described as the “closest we will ever come” to a Princess Diana autobiography, was republished with new material in 2017 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the People’s Princess’s death.

Our mission at STYLECASTER is to bring style to the people, and we only feature products we think you’ll love as much as we do. Please note that if you purchase something by clicking on a link within this story, we may receive a small commission of the sale.