Princess Diana's uncomfortable body language in unearthed interview reveals relationship red flags

Princess Diana's body language in the 1981 interview hints at her strained relationship with fiancé Prince Charles

PARIS - NOVEMBER: Diana Princess of Wales at a dinner given by President Mitterand in November, 1988 at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France during the Royal Tour of France.Diana wore a dress designed by Victor Edelstein. (Photo by David Levenson/Getty Images)
(Image credit: David Levenson/Getty Images)

Princess Diana’s tense body language during an interview about her upcoming wedding has hinted at the royal's prenuptial fears, revealing a major red flag the public may have overlooked at the time. 

Princess Diana's uncomfortable body language in a television interview on her upcoming wedding was dismissed as shyness at the time, but viewers now believe it to be red flags of her unhappy relationship. 

In a recently unearthed appearance from 1981, the late Princess of Wales sits alongside her fiancé Prince Charles for a discussion on their high-publicized engagement with BBC journalist Angela Ribbon and ITV’s Andrew Gardner. The couple spoke about a number of issues in the interview, including their gratitude for the public’s wedding gifts, Diana’s part-time work teaching children, and the challenges of planning the guestlist for the big day. 

However, there’s one thing Ribbon now wishes she had picked up on - Diana’s uncomfortable body language. 

Speaking on the Channel 5 documentary, Charles and Di: The Truth Behind Their Wedding, the broadcasting veteran recalls the princess’s uneasiness throughout the interview. 

“Lady Diana was almost slumped in the chair, she was in new territory. She was out of her depth,” she said. 

At the time of the recording, Diana and Charles were still only getting to know each other. They had become engaged after reportedly meeting just 13 times during their courtship, and clearly lacked the natural rapport most newly engaged couples share. On top of navigating the emotional turmoil of their strained relationship, Diana was struggling to adjust to the pressure of life in the Royal Family. Unlike Charles, who speaks fluidly on-screen, Diana appears overwhelmed by the media's glare. 

“Put any 20-year-old in front of a television camera and say this is an interview about what could be one of the most important days of your life and it’s going to be seen by hundreds of millions of people around the world, and there is this man standing behind the person interviewing you making sure you get it right. Crikey, anyone would be nervous,” Ribbon says. 

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales, wearing a wedding dress designed by David and Elizabeth Emanuel and the Spencer family Tiara, ride in an open carriage, from St. Paul's Cathedral to Buckingham Palace, following their wedding on July 29, 1981 in London, England. (Photo by Anwar Hussein/Getty Images)

Princess Diana and Prince Charles on their wedding day on July 29, 1981 in London, England 

(Image credit: Anwar Hussein/Getty Images)

Diana’s discomfort surfaces at multiple points throughout the interview. 

Her smile immediately fades after answering questions and she repeatedly avoids eye contact with her husband-to-be. At one point, Diana even seems to show contempt for Charles, sarcastically calling him a ‘tower of strength’ in her acclimatization to royal life. The sirens of a doomed future were ringing but seemed to have been drowned out by the deafening chimes of royal wedding bells. 

Ribbon is now unnerved by her failure to detect Diana’s despair, which is now blindingly obvious in hindsight. She solemnly recalls the final moment of the interview, in which she extends her best wishes to the couple on behalf of the nation. It’s at this point that Diana turns her head away from Charles, pursing her lips and looking stoically to the floor. 

“That expression on Diana’s face at the end speaks volumes. Maybe we should have read so much more into that five seconds at the end the interview. It might have told us so much more about what was to come.”

Emma Dooney
Lifestyle News Writer

Hailing from the lovely city of Dublin, Emma mainly covers the Royal Family and the entertainment world, as well as the occasional health and wellness feature. Always up for a good conversation, she has a passion for interviewing everyone from A-list celebrities to the local GP - or just about anyone who will chat to her, really.

Emma holds an MA in International Journalism from City, University of London, and a BA in English Literature from Trinity College Dublin.