An Exact Timeline of King Charles and Princess Diana’s Separation and Divorce
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The Crown’s fifth season dove straight into the unraveling of King Charles and Princess Diana’s marriage; and considering how messy things got on the show (Tampongate, anyone?), you might be wondering how much of it happened IRL. Tbh, though there were some historical inaccuracies this past season, when it comes to Diana and Charles’s relationship…what you see on The Crown is pretty true. In fact, it’s honestly less dramatic than what happened in real life, so we went ahead and laid it all out in a handy (and very !!!!!) timeline.
Andrew Morton’s bombshell biography Diana: Her True Story is published amid claims that Diana was a source on the book. We now know that she was (Morton published another version of the book after her death with transcripts of her tape recordings), but either way, the book makes it clear that Charles and Diana have far from a fairy-tale marriage.
August 23, 1992
The Sun publishes Squidgygate, the transcripts of a recorded call between Princess Diana and her friend James Gilbey that took place in early January 1990. The call, while not that salacious, got its name due to James calling Diana “Squidgy” and “Squidge” multiple times.
November 3, 1992
Charles and Diana go on their final royal tour together and the vibes are…not great.
December 9, 1992
British prime minister John Major announces the separation of Princess Diana and Charles in a public appearance before the House of Commons. He keeps things pretty formal, saying, “This decision has been reached amicably and they will both continue to participate fully in the upbringing of their children.”
Charles and Diana are both at public engagements the day the news is announced, with Charles visiting an old folks’s home in London and Diana visiting a clinic in northeast England.
In their reporting at the time, the New York Times says the Palace has taken “pains” to say there is no “third party” involved but notes that Charles is rumored to be involved with his “old girlfriend” Camilla Parker Bowles and that Diana has been involved with an “unnamed man who called her ‘Squidgy’ and said he loved her.”
January 17, 1993
Tampongate goes down. In case you’re blissfully unaware, this moment involved a private and very NSFW phone conversation between Charles and Camilla (recorded in 1989) being leaked to the press.
Highlights (let’s be real, lowlights) include:
Charles: “Oh, stop! I want to feel my way along you, all over you and up and down you and in and out….”
Charles: “Particularly in and out.”
Camilla: “Oh, that’s just what I need at the moment.”
Charles: “Is it?”
Charles: “Oh, god. I’ll just live inside your trousers or something. It would be much easier!”
Camilla: “What are you going to turn into, a pair of knickers? Oh, you’re going to come back as a pair of knickers.”
Charles: “Or, god forbid, a Tampax. Just my luck!”
Camilla: “You are a complete idiot! [Laughs.] Oh, what a wonderful idea.”
May 30, 1993
Diana and Charles appear in good spirits at a public event together:
December 25, 1993
Diana joins Charles and the rest of the royal family for the annual Christmas walk in Sandringham:
June 29, 1994
Two years into their separation, Charles sits down for a televised interview at his Highgrove estate and admits he’s cheated on Diana. When asked directly if he was “faithful and honorable” when he married Diana, Charles answers, “Yes, absolutely.” But when confronted with the follow-up question, “And you were?” he adds, “Yes, until it became irretrievably broken down, us both having tried.”
The New York Times reports that his comments were actually leaked two days prior to the interview, leading to front-page headlines like “Charles: I Cheated on Diana” and “Di Told You So.”
On the same day as Charles’s interview, Diana steps out in her revenge dress:
November 20, 1995
Diana sits down with Martin Bashir of BBC’s Panorama, an interview that was obtained unethically. During the conversation, Diana speaks candidly about her relationship with Charles, famously saying there were “three people in [her] marriage.”
December 21, 1995
Buckingham Palace announces that Queen Elizabeth II has written to then-Prince Charles and Princess Diana, urging them to divorce:
“After considering the present situation, the Queen wrote to both the prince and princess earlier this week and gave them her view, supported by the Duke of Edinburgh, that an early divorce is desirable. The Prince of Wales also takes this view and has made this known to the Princess of Wales since the letter. The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will continue to do all they can to help and support the Prince and Princess of Wales, and most particularly their children, in this difficult period.”
February 29, 1996
Diana’s spokesperson reveals she’s agreed to divorce Charles, saying in a statement, “The Princess of Wales will retain the title and be known as Diana, Princess of Wales.”
A Palace spokesperson responds with, “The Queen was most interested to hear that the Princess of Wales had agreed to the divorce,” and confirms Charles and Diana met that day at St. James’s Palace; however, “details of the divorce settlement and the princess’s future role were not discussed.”
July 13, 1996
The details of Diana and Charles’s divorce settlement are revealed. While Diana is forced to give up the title of “Her Royal Highness,” she’s able to retain “Princess of Wales.” She is also able to keep her apartments at Kensington Palace, given access to jets used by the royal family, and told she can “use the state apartments at St. James’s Palace for entertaining.”
Buckingham Palace additionally announces that Diana will get a lump-sum payment in an amount reported to be $22.5 million in cash plus $600,000 a year for her office, per the New York Times’ reporting. It’s also made clear that the couple will have equal access to their kids, Prince William and Prince Harry. Sadly, however, Diana's new, post-royal life is cut short after a car crash in Paris a year later ends up being fatal.
For a deep dive on how Charles and Diana first got together, head here:
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