A new Prince Charles biography scheduled to appear on April the 4th will attempt to tell the tale of the Prince of Wales’ life. It includes previously undocumented insights into the tumultuous time leading to his wedding to Princess Diana back in 1981.
The book titled Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life is authored by the royal writer Sally Bedell Smith. It tells how Charles wept the night before the wedding to Diana since he reportedly felt “pressured” by the palace to go through with something he was not ready for.
At the time Prince Charles felt torn between Princess Diana and his former girlfriend, Camilla Parker-Bowles, who he would end up marrying much later in 2005.
Prince Charles and Princess Diana with children William and Harry in 1986
Charles and Camilla, then carrying her maiden surname Rosemary Shand, met in 1971 and started dating. They shared a sense of humor and Charles loved Camilla’s interest in the countryside and her lack of interest in fashion. According to author Bedell Smith, Camilla “always listened” and was very maternal.
After two years of dating, they split up when Charles was posted abroad with the Royal Navy in 1973. Military obligations were not the sole reason for the break up as Camilla’s past relationships made her an unlikely candidate to marry into the royal family. Charles was also only 24 and not ready to settle down.
Soon after, Rosemary Shand married her former boyfriend Andrew Parker-Bowles and became Camilla Parker-Bowles. Andrew was a friend of Charles’ and the three of them were in the same social circles, so it was only a matter of time before the Prince and Camilla would rekindle their romance.
Enter Lady Diana Spencer
When Charles started dating Lady Diana Spencer in 1980, she seemed like the perfect candidate: aristocratic and with an unchequered past. Charles received a letter from his father, Prince Philip, urging him to make a decision on where he stands with Diana or risk putting Diana’s reputation in jeopardy.
According to the book, Charles “wasn’t in love, he wasn’t ready,” and interpreted the letter as being pressured to marry. Author Bedell Smith, however, claims that the letter simply reiterated that “Charles should either propose to her or release her. In either event, he should make a decision shortly.”
Eventually, Charles proposed in February of 1981 and the couple married in July the same year in a ceremony followed all across the world. What followed was the better-known part of the story: a well-publicized unhappy marriage. Diana was thirteen years the Prince’s junior, they did not share any interests and she never bought into much of the royal family’s ways.
Charles and Diana went on to have two sons, William and Harry. The couple split in 1992 and divorced in August 1996, a year before Princess Diana died in a car crash in Paris. Prince Charles married Camilla Parker-Bowles in 2005 – the first time in history a heir to the British crown married a divorcée.