Revisit Prince Charles and Princess Diana's Engagement 40 Years Ago: 'Whatever in Love Means'

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Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

On this day 40 years ago, Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer (who later became known worldwide as Princess Diana) announced they were to marry.

The couple, who had only been dating for six months, made an official announcement via the Lord Chancellor at 11 a.m. on February 24, 1981. "It is with greatest pleasure that the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh announce the betrothal of their beloved son the Prince of Wales to the Lady Diana Spencer, daughter of the Earl Spencer and the Honourable Mrs Shand Kydd," the statement read.

In a joint interview with the BBC at Buckingham Palace, Charles said that he was "delighted and frankly amazed that Diana is prepared to take me on," while Diana described her husband-to-be as "pretty amazing" as she looked shyly up through her blonde fringe.

It was during this somewhat stilted and awkward interview with the couple that Charles made his infamous remark about the meaning of love, which Diana later said "traumatized" her. When asked if the couple were in love, Diana replied sheepishly, "Of course," while Charles said, "Whatever in love means," as he looked awkwardly to the floor.

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Charles revealed that they had managed to keep the engagement a secret, having proposed to Diana three weeks prior at a private dinner at Buckingham Palace. During the interview he explained that he wanted to give Diana time to consider her answer during a planned trip to Australia, but Diana accepted straight away and moved out of her apartment that she shared with roommates in Kensington to live in Clarence House until the big day.

Jayne Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images

Wearing a cobalt blue skirt suit from Harrods, it was the first time that the royal fiancée had been able to show off her engagement ring to the world. Encircled by a halo of diamonds and set in 18-karat white gold, the ring from Garrard features a 12-karat oval blue sapphire from Sri Lanka. It has since been passed down to her son Prince William who gave it to Kate Middleton on the day of their engagement.

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Chris Jackson/Getty Images; Tim Graham/Getty Images Princess Diana and Kate Middleton wearing the same sapphire engagement ring by Garrard

Charles and Diana married on July 29, 1981, in St. Paul's Cathedral in front of 3,500 invited guests and an estimated 750 million people around the world who watched on television.

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Anwar Hussein/WireImage Prince Charles and Princess Diana on their wedding day in 1981

After having their sons William and Prince Harry, the couple separated in 1993 and officially divorced in 1996. Tragically, Princess Diana died on August 31, 1997, in a car crash that shocked the world.