15 photos show how Princess Diana and Prince Charles' relationship changed over time

Mikhaila Friel
·5 min read
charles and diana relationship
The Prince and Princess of Wales at a polo match in 1985, left, and together in Windsor in 1992, the year of their separation. Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images
  • Prince Charles and Princess Diana got married at St. Paul's Cathedral in London on July 29, 1981.

  • Their marriage faced obstacles from the beginning, including Charles' relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles and the attention Diana received from the press.

  • Diana once called her wedding day to the prince "the worst day of my life."

  • The couple still experienced happy memories together throughout their 15-year marriage, however. Diana said they were at their closest just before their second child, Prince Harry, was born.

  • Here's how their relationship changed through the years.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Then-Lady Diana Spencer first met Prince Charles in 1977, when he was casually dating her sister Lady Sarah (pictured). Diana was just 16 at the time, and Charles was 28.

Prince Charles and Lady Sarah Spencer
Prince Charles and Lady Sarah Spencer in 1977. Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis/Getty Images

Diana and Charles reconnected in 1980, three years after they met. Press attention was an obstacle from the beginning of their relationship — this photo shows Diana being followed by photographers shortly before their engagement.

princess diana may 1980
Diana being followed by the press in 1980. Ian Tyas/Getty Images

Diana and Charles announced their engagement on February 24, 1981. When asked by an interviewer whether they were in love, Diana responded: "Of course." Charles said: "Whatever in love means."

charles and diana engaged
Diana and Charles at their official engagement photo call. Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

They tied the knot at St. Paul's Cathedral in London on July 29, 1981. They had their first kiss on the Buckingham Palace balcony, becoming the first royal couple to share their wedding kiss with the public.

princess diana prince charles wedding
Princess Diana and Prince Charles on the balcony of Buckingham Palace after their wedding ceremony. Getty Images

In audio of Diana that was later shared in the documentary "Diana: In Her Own Words," the princess called her wedding "the worst day of my life."

diana and charles palace balcony
Diana and Charles on the balcony. Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

The couple had their honeymoon in Balmoral, Scotland, where the royal family's holiday estate is. Diana revealed in the documentary that she saw Charles wearing a pair of cufflinks gifted to him by Camilla during their vacation.

Prince Charles and Diana
The couple in Balmoral. Anwar Hussein/ WireImage/ Getty Images

In 1983 they took their first overseas tour together in Australia with their firstborn, Prince William. It was the tour that secured Diana's position as the "people's princess," and the increasing press attention she received reportedly made Charles jealous.

Princess Diana First Trip Abroad - Spring 1983 - Australia
Prince Charles and Princess Diana visiting Australia with their first son, Prince William. Tim Graham Photo Library/Getty Images

Source: Vogue

Diana and Charles shared this sweet moment at a polo match in July 1984, two months before Prince Harry was born. Diana said in the documentary that they were "the closest we've ever, ever been and the closest we'll ever be," during this period.

diana and charles july 1984
Charles and Diana at a polo match. Len Trievnor/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Their marriage "went down the drain" when Harry was born in 1984, according to Diana. Here they are with their second son on the hospital steps shortly after his birth.

prince charles birth 1984
Diana, Charles, and Prince Harry. Tom Wargacki/WireImage/Getty Images

The couple still displayed affection in public throughout the years that followed, however. Here they are sharing a kiss at a polo match in 1985 ...

diana and charles polo kiss 1985
Charles and Diana shared a rare kiss in public. Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

... and another kiss during their visit to Oman the following year.

diana and charles 1986
Charles and Diana at a polo match in Oman in 1986. Anwar Hussein/Getty Images

With their two children, William and Harry, the Wales family appeared picture-perfect from an outside perspective.

princess diana and family 2
Diana, Charles, William, and Harry. Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

Behind the scenes, however, things weren't working out. The couple officially separated in 1992 and continued to carry out their royal duties separately. They didn't divorce until four years later, in 1996.

diana and charles south korea 1992
Charles and Diana photographed together in 1992. Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images

They still appeared in public together as a family in the years between their separation and divorce — here they are with William and Harry in 1994. This was also the year when Charles admitted he had an affair, saying he had remained faithful until the relationship "became irretrievably broken down, us both having tried."

diana, charles, william, harry 1994
Charles and Diana with their sons in 1994. Terry Fincher/Getty Images

Source: Insider

Diana shared her side of the story during the now-famous BBC "Panorama" interview in 1995, in which she said "there were three of us in the marriage, so it was a bit crowded."

diana panorama interview
Diana speaking on "Panorama." Pool Photograph/Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

Diana lost her HRH status after the divorce, and her title was restyled to Diana, Princess of Wales.

The princess died from injuries sustained in a car crash in Paris a year later. She was said to be on good terms with Charles before her death.

According to Tina Brown's book "The Diana Chronicles," released in 2008, the couple had become friends after the divorce, though Diana was said to have still had feelings for the prince. The claim has never been officially confirmed.

"Charles got into the habit of dropping in on her at Kensington Palace and they would have tea and a sort of rueful exchange," Brown wrote, according to Elle. "They even had some laughs together."

"It was definitely calming down, the boys were older. They talked about their philanthropies. And she had accepted Camilla. One thing she had finally done was really understand that Camilla was the love of his life, and there was just nothing she could do about it … But she said to me at that lunch that she would go back to Charles in a heartbeat if he wanted her," Brown wrote.

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