Royal expert Ingrid Seward’s new book My Mother and I details the relationship between King Charles and his late mother, Queen Elizabeth—but it also details Charles’ ex-wife Princess Diana’s relationship with Her late Majesty. Those who knew Diana found her “enchanting,” Seward writes, and, in the leadup to Charles and Diana’s wedding on July 29, 1981, the Queen “had just two reservations.”
Diana was only 19 to Charles’ 32 years old when he proposed in February 1981. By the time they married that July, Diana had just turned 20 that same month. “She wondered whether anyone that young could differentiate between the man and the prince,” Seward writes. “And she couldn’t help thinking that the Spencer girl would be far better suited to her younger son, Andrew.”
Andrew was born in February 1960 and Diana in July 1961; Charles was born in November 1948. From an age perspective alone, Andrew and Diana were a closer match than Diana’s 12-year age difference to the man who would become her husband.
Eventually, the Queen invited Charles and Diana to Birkhall on the Balmoral estate, where Seward writes Diana “looked marvelous, very relaxed, and quite thrilled with herself.”
Charles and Diana would eventually divorce in 1996, a year before Diana died in a car crash in Paris. Andrew would marry Sarah Ferguson, a friend of Diana’s, in 1986; they too would divorce in 1996. Long before anyone knew there was trouble in paradise—save for maybe the couple themselves—750 million people spanning 74 countries watched Charles and Diana’s so-called fairytale wedding on television. Diana herself later spoke about her wedding for his 1992 book Diana: Her True Story in Her Own Words.
“I remember being so in love with my husband that I couldn’t take my eyes off him,” she told Morton. “I just absolutely thought I was the luckiest girl in the world. He was going to look after me.”
In an excerpt from Lady Colin Campbell’s The Real Diana—which was published in 1998—Diana said of her wedding day that “It was heaven, amazing, wonderful, though I was so nervous when I was walking up the aisle that I swore my knees would knock and make a noise.”
Long before their 1996 divorce—and even before their wedding day—it was clear that Charles and Diana likely weren’t the right fit for one another. Footman Mark Simpson said of the relationship between the two that “Prince Charles wasn’t making any great romantic advances towards her, and I suppose the rejection was getting more acute, and she was becoming more and more unhappy,” he said, per The Mirror. “I wasn’t the right person to deal with it because I didn’t understand. It didn’t seem strange to me that Prince Charles was out most of the time and not spending every night having dinner with her. I understood that the royal family had a huge schedule that made family life almost impossible, unless they were at Balmoral or Sandringham.”
Simpson added that he and Diana “talked about everything” and claimed she opened up about how “unfeeling” the royal family was and how Charles wasn’t giving her attention. In My Mother and I, Seward writes that Diana turned to the Queen after her marriage to Charles began “crumbling,” and that Diana insisted “she was being victimized and no one understood her.”
Seward writes, per The Mirror, that “The Queen came to dread these meetings. She’d never had to deal with such outbursts in her life, and they left her feeling drained, despondent, and confused.” Seward cited a member of the Royal Household as saying that the Queen “just procrastinated” and that “no solution was ever put forward” about the issues Diana struggled with; eventually Charles and Diana separated in 1992 and divorced four years later. The next year, Diana was gone.
Seward’s My Mother and I is set for release on February 15.