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‘War of the Wales’ Was a Battle Royal

When Princess Diana's fantasy marriage broke, things got messy

This is the sixth installment in a series of photos and videos remembering Princess Diana as we approach the 20th anniversary of her shocking death on Aug. 31, 1997. Please share your thoughts and memories of Diana in our Icons community forum.

“Malice in the Palace!” the headlines screamed, foreshadowing the unraveling of Princess Diana’s fairy-tale marriage long before her split from Prince Charles. Some would argue the royal couple was doomed from the start — a mismatch in age, emotions, and interests — but as early as 1985 a chill had set in. Their increasing estrangement is obvious in the photos from that time. 

By 1992 when they officially separated, the prince and princess were in the arms of others, and the real “War of the Wales’” began. Diana secretly collaborated with writer Andrew Morton on a tell-all book; Charles got caught on tape professing love, albeit crudely, for his lover, Camilla Parker Bowles. It all got so seedy that by 1995 the Queen actually pressed them to end it.

Diana called Aug. 28, 1996, the day she and Charles were officially divorced, “the saddest day of my life,” and yet she had a new life to live. One year and three days later, she was dead.

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