Year
1981

Prince Charles marries Lady Diana

Nearly one billion television viewers in 74 countries tune in to witness the marriage of Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, to Lady Diana Spencer, a young English schoolteacher. Married in a grand ceremony at St. Paul’s Cathedral in the presence of 2,650 guests, the couple’s romance was for the moment the envy of the world. Their first child, Prince William, was born in 1982, and their second, Prince Harry, in 1984.

Before long, however, the fairy-tale couple grew apart, an experience that was particularly painful under the ubiquitous eyes of the world’s tabloid media. Diana and Charles announced a separation in 1992, though they continued to carry out their royal duties. In August 1996, two months after Queen Elizabeth II urged the couple to divorce, the prince and princess reached a final agreement. In exchange for a generous settlement, and the right to retain her apartments at Kensington Palace and her title of “princess,” Diana agreed to relinquish the title of “Her Royal Highness” and any future claims to the British throne.

In the year following the divorce, the popular princess seemed well on her way of achieving her dream of becoming “a queen in people’s hearts,” but on August 31, 1997, she was killed with her companion Dodi Fayed in a car accident in Paris. Tests conducted by French police indicated that the driver, who also died in the crash, was intoxicated and likely caused the accident while trying to escape the paparazzi photographers who consistently tailed Diana during any public outing.

On April 9, 2005, Prince Charles wed his longtime mistress, Camilla Parker Bowles, in a private civil ceremony. The ceremony had originally been planned for April 8, but had to be rescheduled so as not to conflict with the funeral of Pope John Paul II. After the civil ceremony, which the queen did not attend, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams blessed the union on behalf of the Church of England in a separate blessing ceremony. An estimated 750 guests attended the event, which was held at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor and was attended by both of Charles’ parents, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip.

Though Camilla technically became the Princess of Wales with the marriage, she has announced her preference for the title Duchess of Cornwall, in deference to the beloved late princess. Should Charles become king, she will become Queen Camilla, though she has already announced her intention to use the title Princess Consort, most likely in response to public opinion polls showing resistance to the idea of a Queen Camilla.

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