Prince Charles and Diana—a timeline of the Prince and Princess of Wales' unforgettable royal relationship

Prince Charles and Diana met back in 1977 but it wasn’t until 1980 that romance blossomed

Prince Charles and Diana at an Italian naval base at La Spezia
(Image credit: Photo by Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images)

Prince Charles and Diana’s meeting changed the course of royal history forever as one of the Royal Family’s most iconic couples captured the nation’s hearts. 

Prince Charles and Diana are often regarded as one of the fairy-tale couples of the modern Royal Family. After meeting back in the 1970s, they later reconnected and went on to marry in one of the most magnificent royal weddings the world has seen. As devoted parents to future king Prince William and Prince Harry, they have also set the stage for the future of the Royal Family. And the Prince and Princess of Wales' romance has since been brought to life on screen in Netflix’s hit period drama, The Crown, with many eagerly looking forward to seeing the next Princess Diana in The Crown season 5.

Though some viewers have been left wondering how accurate The Crown truly is, that hasn’t stopped them from being captivated by the fictionalized account of this real-life royal romance.

Here we reveal all you need to know about Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s relationship, from their very first meeting to their royal wedding and divorce...

When did Prince Charles and Diana meet? 

Prince Charles and Diana met in November 1977. At the time, Prince Charles was dating the then-Lady Diana Spencer’s sister Sarah and he had been invited to join the family on a grouse hunt at the family home, Althorp House. His relationship with Sarah, however, was short-lived and she later reportedly shared that she wouldn’t marry him, “If he were the dustman or the King of England”. 

Prince Charles and Lady Sarah Spencer

(Image credit: Photo by Anwar Hussein/Getty Images)

At the time, it’s widely thought that Prince Charles was still in love with Camilla Shand, whom he had dated in the early 1970s. Though Camilla apparently didn’t have any "ambition" to be his wife and after things ended between them, she went on to marry Andrew Parker Bowles. The couple later divorced in 1995. Meanwhile, Prince Charles reconnected with Lady Diana in 1980 when they were both invited to stay at Philip de Pass’ house in Sussex.

The 2017 documentary, Diana: In Her Own Words, showed Diana telling her speech coach about their meeting, which took place shortly after he'd broken up with his girlfriend and his great-uncle and mentor Lord Mountbatten had died.

“We were talking about Mountbatten and his girlfriend and I said, ‘You must be so lonely.’ I said, ‘It’s pathetic watching you walking up the aisle with Mountbatten’s coffin in front, ghastly, you need someone beside you’,” Diana explained.

“Whereupon he leapt upon me and started kissing me and I thought, urgh, this is not what people do. And he was all over me for the rest of the evening, following me around like a puppy.”

After this significant meeting, their romance went from strength to strength and the two announced their engagement in February 1981. 

What was the age difference between Princess Diana and Prince Charles?

Princess Diana and Prince Charles’ age gap was 13 years and when they first met, she was 16 and he 29. According to Oprah Daily, the Prince of Wales opened up in their engagement interview about his first impression of Diana upon meeting her back in 1977. 

"I remember thinking what a very jolly and amusing and attractive 16-year-old she was. I mean, great fun, and bouncy and full of life and everything," he declared. 

By the time the couple went on to become engaged, Princess Diana was 19 years old and her future husband 31. 

Prince Charles and Diana’s wedding was in 1981

Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s wedding took place on 29 July 1981 at St Paul’s Cathedral. The couple departed from the more traditional choice of Westminster Abbey, where the Queen and Prince Philip married and where their son Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding later took place. This was reportedly due to the staggering number of guests attending, with the Cathedral offering more seating.

As reported by the BBC, the royal wedding was watched by a global television audience of 750 million in 74 countries, with 600,000 people eagerly lining the streets of London between the Cathedral and Buckingham Palace

It was here at the Queen’s primary London residence that their reception was held and there are several other fun facts that surround the Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s wedding

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales in an open carriage

(Image credit: Photo by Anwar Hussein/WireImage via Getty)

According to the Royal Family’s official website, the Princess was the first Englishwoman to marry an heir to the throne for 300 years. For this magnificent occasion, Diana opted to wear a silk taffeta dress with a 25-foot train designed by the Emanuels, which is now on display this summer at Kensington Palace. And whilst future generations have worn tiaras lent to them by the Queen, for her big day, Diana chose to hold her veil in place with the Spencer family diamond tiara. 

Her bouquet consisted of gardenias, lilies-of-the-valley, white freesia, golden roses, white orchids and stephanotis and she was assisted throughout the day by five bridesmaids that included the Queen’s niece, Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones. Prince Charles’ younger brothers, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward, attended as The Prince of Wales’ Supporters—a royal custom that exists instead of a Best Man.

Prince and Princess of Wales on the balcony of Buckingham Palace on their wedding day

(Image credit: Photo by Terry Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images)

After tying the knot, Prince Charles and Princess Diana set off on honeymoon, though her iconic honeymoon outfit “almost didn’t happen” after a misunderstanding at the designer’s shop. The royals spent part of their honeymoon at Broadlands, the Mountbatten family home, before they flew to Gibraltar to board the HMY Britannia for a 12-day cruise through the Mediterranean and then returned to Balmoral

After their marriage, Princess Diana and Prince Charles and their sons divided their time between their apartment at Kensington Palace in London and their countryside home, Highgrove House, in Gloucestershire. 

The Prince and Princess of Wales had two children

The Prince and Princess of Wales had two children together, Prince William and Prince Harry, who are counted amongst the most senior and influential members of the Royal Family today. Princess Diana gave birth to Prince William on June 21, 1982 at St Mary's Hospital, Paddington and she and Charles christened him William Arthur Philip Louis. 

He was soon joined by his younger brother Prince Henry Charles Albert David on 15 September 1984, born at the same hospital and most often referred to simply as Prince Harry. 

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales with Prince William

(Image credit: Photo by Anwar Hussein/Getty Images)

Both boys are understood to have had an incredibly close relationship with their parents growing up. Princess Diana was reportedly left “in tears” after Prince Charles decided Prince William should follow royal tradition and leave the family home for boarding school when he was eight, though she continued to write him heartfelt letters. 

The Princess of Wales’ sense of humor often shone through in her relationship with her sons and she is even said to have embarrassed William greatly on his 13th birthday with her hilarious choice of cake. 

He and Prince Harry were left devastated two years later when she passed away and earlier this year, they reunited for the unveiling of a memorial statue to the Princess of Wales on what would’ve been her 60th birthday.

Princess Diana with Prince William and Prince Harry

(Image credit: Photo by Jayne Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images)

The Princes honored her with a heartbreaking post that declared they wish every day that their mother was still with them as the statue was revealed at her former home, Kensington Palace. 

And whilst both brothers continue to reflect on their mother’s remarkable legacy, it’s thought that Prince Charles and Prince William in particular have grown closer than ever thanks to William’s wife Kate Middleton. Meanwhile, Prince Harry and his father have been surrounded by rumors of a royal rift in recent months. 

However, some have since suggested that Harry and Prince Charles have begun to heal their relationship since the birth of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s second child, Lilibet. 

Princess Diana’s interview with Panorama was in 1995 

Princess Diana’s interview with BBC Panorama has gone down in history as one of the most shocking royal moments. Taking place in November 1995, two years after her and Prince Charles’ separation was announced, the Princess spoke to journalist Martin Bashir about her personal life, sharing incredibly candid details about her and Charles’ marriage and the pressures of her public role. 

When asked by Martin about whether she believed Camilla Parker-Bowles could have been a "factor" in the breakdown of her and Charles’ marriage, Diana infamously replied, “Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.”

Martin Bashir interviews Princess Diana in Kensington Palace for the television program Panorama

(Image credit: Photo by © Pool Photograph/Corbis/Corbis/Tim Graham via Getty Images)

According to Town&Country, Prince Charles’ authorized biography claimed that in 1986, he began an affair with his former girlfriend, before Diana allegedly confronted Camilla about it in 1989. Whilst Tatler suggests that Princess Diana herself began an affair with former Household Cavalry officer James Hewitt in 1986 after they met at a cocktail party, though this reportedly ended when he was deployed to fight in the Gulf War. Nevertheless, Diana’s interview comments certainly left royal fans shocked.   

Earlier this year, Prince William shared a rare and “blistering” statement to the BBC after an independent inquiry found that Martin Bashir had behaved in a "deceitful" way to persuade Princess Diana to agree to the interview. 

The inquiry, which was conducted by retired judge Lord Dyson, also described the BBC’s probe into the interview back in 1996 "woefully ineffective."

Prince William spoke out to condemn the BBC for “evasive” reporting and expressed his belief that the interview contributed to Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s deteriorating relationship.  

"The interview was a major contribution to making my parents' relationship worse and has since hurt countless others," Prince William declared. 

How long were Prince Charles and Diana married? 

Prince Charles and Diana were married for fifteen years before their divorce was finalized. This year marks what would have been their milestone 40th wedding anniversary and Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s wedding cake slice has recently sold for a whopping $2,553. This came from one of their 23 official wedding cakes and was decorated with the royal coat-of-arms in gold, red, blue and silver.

The wedding cake on display at Charles & Diana Royal Wedding, 29th July 1981

(Image credit: Photo by David Levenson/Getty Images)

Originally given to Moyra Smith, who worked for the Queen Mother at Clarence House, she preserved the slice in plastic wrap and kept it safe in a cake tin until it was sold to Dominic Winter Auctioneers in 2008. It’s reported that this time around, the slice attracted far more attention than it did back then, perhaps due to the meaningful nature of this year’s anniversary.

Prince Charles and Diana divorced in 1996

Prince Charles and Diana’s marriage sadly ended in divorce on August 28, 1996. This came after the official announcement was made In December 1992 that the Prince and Princess of Wales had agreed to separate. Following this decision, the Princess was based at Kensington Palace, while Prince Charles was based at St James's Palace and continued to live at Highgrove House.

Prince Charles And Princess Diana On Their Last Official Trip Together

(Image credit: Photo by Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)

The official Royal Family website reports that it was decided collectively by the Queen, Prince Charles and Princess Diana that after the divorce was finalized, Diana would be known as Diana, Princess of Wales without her HRH styling. This style was given to her upon her marriage and so it seems that she was expected to give up use of it after their divorce.

When did Princess Diana die?  

Princess Diana tragically died on August 31, 1997 in Paris following a car accident. The vehicle in which the Princess of Wales was travelling was involved in a high-speed accident shortly before midnight and she was later taken to the La Pitie Salpetriere Hospital, where she underwent two hours of emergency surgery before passing away. Film Producer Dodi Fayed, whom Princess Diana was dating at the time, also died in the accident. 

The coffin of Princess Diana, Princess of Wales, leaves Westminster Abbey after her funeral service

(Image credit: Photo by Anwar Hussein/WireImage via Getty)

Prince Charles and Diana’s sisters, Lady Sarah McCorquodale and Lady Jane Fellowes, accompanied the Princess's coffin on its return journey to the UK. Prince Charles later walked alongside Prince William and Prince Harry behind her coffin on the day of her funeral on September 6. 

Following this poignant service, Princess Diana was later laid to rest in the tranquil grounds of the Spencer family estate.

Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Royal Editor with eight years experience working in publishing. Her specialist areas include the British Royal Family, ranging from protocol to outfits. Alongside putting her royal knowledge to good use, Emma knows all there is to know about the latest TV shows on the BBC, ITV and more. When she’s not writing about the next unmissable show to add to your to-watch list or delving into royal protocol, Emma enjoys cooking, long walks and watching yet more crime dramas!