British Prime Minister John Major announces the formal separation of Charles, Prince of Wales and heir to the British throne, and his wife, Princess Diana. Major explained that the royal couple were separating “amicably.” The report came after several years of speculation by the tabloid press that the marriage was in peril, citing evidence that Diana and Charles spent vacations apart and official visits in separate rooms.
On July 29, 1981, nearly one billion television viewers in 74 countries tuned 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 Henry, in 1984.
Before long, however, the fairy tale couple grew apart, an experience that was particularly painful under the watchful eyes of the world’s tabloid media. Diana and Charles separated 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 of Wales,” 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 to 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. An investigation conducted by the French police concluded that the driver, who also died in the crash, was heavily intoxicated and caused the accident while trying to escape the paparazzi photographers who consistently tailed Diana during any public outing.
Prince Charles married the Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla Parker Bowles, on April 9, 2005.