Prince Charles and Princess Diana's marriage was a real fairytale because it has gruesome life lessons for women

It's been 40 years since Prince Charles and Princess Diana got married

Prince Charles and Princess Diana
(Image credit: Princess Diana Archive / Stringer / Getty Images)

Prince Charles and Princess Diana were married on 29th July 1981, four decades ago. Although we all love to look back at the wedding fit for a princess, their marriage was far from idyllic.


Prince Charles and Diana's relationship was sometimes hailed as a 'fairytale,' as the pomp and splendor of the royal wedding allowed spectators to assume that this union would be as magical as the day they were wed. 

Although their marriage ultimately ended in divorce, there are still some comparisons that can be made between the royal couple's relationship and the fairytales to which their wedding was compared.

It seems that their marriage may have been quite close to a real fairytale, with many of the most famous fables actually playing out some rather dark narratives for the women involved. 

Princess Diana

(Image credit: Fox Photos / Stringer / Getty)

Princess Diana was 20 years old when she got married

Princess Diana, or Lady Diana Spencer as she was known before her marriage, was only 20 years old when she married Prince Charles.

Prince Charles was far older than his bride and was 32 years old when he married Princess Diana at St Paul's cathedral. 

Like all good fairytales, the female protagonists are usually in their late teens or early twenties and a little bit too naive to be entering into such a high-profile marriage.

Although not all twenty-year-olds are naive, Princess Diana was described as having a 'childlike innocence' on many occasions. 

It was even reported that the day before her wedding, she was cycling inside Clarence House and shouting about her upcoming nuptials.

The Queen Mother’s page, William Tallon, shared details of the child-like energy Diana had the day before her big day.

Speaking to The Mirror, he recalled that Lady Diana rode around Clarence House on her bike, shouting, "I’m going to marry the Prince of Wales tomorrow. I’m going to marry the Prince of Wales tomorrow!"

“She was just a child, you know, just a little girl,” William explained. 

Her innocence was also demonstrated in an interview about their engagement announcement, Diana and Charles were questioned about their age gap and the Princess admitted, “I have never thought about it.”

Prince Charles on the other hand said, “I think that Diana will keep me young, apart from anything else."

He continued to say, “I think I shall be exhausted. I haven’t somehow thought about it. I mean, it’s only 12 years, and lots of people have got married with that sort of age difference. I just feel you are as old as you think you are.”

Prince Charles and Princess Diana

(Image credit: Anwar Hussein / Contributor / Getty)

Princess Diana was a 'lonely princess'

Although she was hardly locked away in a turret that was guarded by a dragon, Princess Diana often spoke about how lonely she felt during the early days of her marriage.

The Princess spoke about how isolating being married to Prince Charles was and many commentators have compared her to the lonely heroine who needs saving.

“Fairytales are all about lonely princesses,” said Kristen Radtke said in an article for Vanity Fair, “I’ve always thought of Diana as a kind of lonely icon. 

"I think about her a lot in terms of fairytale princess tropes, how since childhood Disney is presenting us with these beautiful, isolated women. 

"I think that helped us recognize her as familiar, because she was one of the first members of the royal family ever who seemed genuinely warm and removed somehow from the world she was supposed to be participating in, just like Cinderella or Rapunzel or any number of fictional princesses.”

Prince Charles and Princess Diana

(Image credit: David Levenson / Contributor / Getty Images)

Prince Charles cheated on Princess Diana

Infidelity and betrayal is a common trope in fairytale lore, whether it's a Prince being led astray by a witch in disguise, or a young princess being enchanted by a spell. 

Prince Charles famously cheated on Diana with his now-wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, who was known at the time as Camilla Parker-Bowles.

His relationship with Camilla was highly documented and the Princess was well aware of his infidelity. 

She once said about her marriage to Prince Charles, "Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded." 

Princess Diana

(Image credit: Bettmann / Contributor/ Getty)

In the Disney film adaptations of the original fairytales, Cinderella, Ariel, and Rapunzel all get their happy ending and the film ends in their marriage—that's the end of the story. 

For Princess Diana, her wedding may have been romanticized as the happy ending for a young woman to marry a dashing Prince and that's that, but in reality, this was just the start of her new life.

It seems that a fairytale wedding and a fairytale marriage, actually sounds like a bit of a disaster for pretty much everyone involved. 

If any life lesson can be gleaned from this royal fairytale, it's that we probably shouldn't wish for a fairytale marriage because it is really not all it's cracked up to be.

Laura Harman
Laura Harman

Laura is a news writer for woman&home who primarily covers entertainment and celebrity news. Laura dabbles in lifestyle, royal, beauty and fashion news, and her favourite stories to cover as anything and everything to do with television and film. She is also passionate about feminism and equality and loves writing about gender issues and feminist literature.


Laura loves drinking and eating and can often be found trying to get reservations at London's trendiest restaurants. When she's not wining and dining, Laura can also be found baking, hiking with her dog, shopping, and practicing yoga.