At the age of 20, Lady Diana Spencer exchanged vows with 32-year-old Prince Charles in the widely acclaimed “wedding of the century” on July 29, 1981. As she transformed from Lady Diana Spencer to the Princess of Wales, symbolized by the placement of her wedding ring, she gained global admiration for her endearing character.
However, the title also subjected her marriage to years of challenges and required her to navigate a multitude of royal expectations.
PennLive reported that despite challenges in her marriage, Princess Diana discovered joy in nurturing her two sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, born in 1982 and 1984, respectively. The devoted mother prioritized her children’s well-being, often bending the rules to ensure their happiness.
Prince William expressed his deep appreciation for his mother’s love, stating, “My mother smothered Harry and me in love, that’s one thing I can always say about her. I still feel the love she provided us after twenty years, which is a testimonial to her enormous heart and incredible ability as a mother,” as quoted by GQ.
While her connection with her children remained strong and loving, her marriage to Prince Charles faced challenges, including the strain caused by an extramarital affair.
As per historical accounts, Prince Charles and Princess Diana officially separated in 1992, but despite their separation, Diana continued to fulfill her royal duties. In 1996, at the encouragement of the Queen, the couple finalized their divorce after reaching an agreement. As part of the settlement, Princess Diana willingly relinquished her title of ‘Her Royal Highness’ and other privileges that would have secured her a claim to the British monarchy in the future. However, she retained the title “Princess of Wales.”
Reports suggest that the divorce proceedings extended over several years, primarily due to disputes related to finances, access, and Diana’s status. Diana, expressing her desire to maintain the title of ‘Her Royal Highness,’ emphasized her role as the mother of the future heir to the kingdom, a connection she wished to preserve.
The title was not just a formality; it held practical significance, as losing it would sever formal ties with her sons. Diana believed that adhering to various royal protocols, including bowing to her own children, would be required if she wanted to maintain a formal connection with her sons. The title became a crucial link to her role as a mother and her relationship with the royal family.
According to the New York Times, Queen Elizabeth II made the decision to allow Princess Diana to retain her title, as reported by Marie Claire. In contrast, Prince Charles reportedly strongly opposed this decision and was determined to strip his former wife of the title and its associated privileges.
Princess Diana was deeply distressed about the prospect of losing her title. Even when her mother suggested that starting afresh without the weight of a royal title might be beneficial, Diana remained silent for months, as reported by the Express.
During this challenging period, Prince William, who was just 14 at the time, couldn’t bear to see his mother in such distress. According to Paul Burrell, Princess Diana’s former butler, Prince William tried to console her and made a heartfelt commitment. Burrell recounted in his book, “A Royal Duty,” that Prince William assured his mother, “When I become King, I will return it to you.” This conversation reportedly left Princess Diana in tears.
Tragically, Princess Diana never witnessed her son’s ascent to the throne, as she passed away in a car accident in 1997, just a year after the divorce was finalized. Prince William, devastated by the loss of his mother at a young age, struggled with his mental health over the years.
In a quote from GQ, Prince William acknowledged the impact of his mother’s death on his mental health, stating, “…I’d gladly talk about my mental health difficulties if I had them. I suppose the closest I came was the trauma I went through when my mother died, the magnitude of the sadness, and I still haven’t dealt with it as effectively as I could have over the years.” He also revealed that it took him nearly 20 years to reach a point where he could talk more openly, honestly, and publicly about his mother and remember her better.