Meetings that made history: When Charles met Diana….
The meeting that shaped the monarchy…
It sounds like the title of a romcom but the romantic duo were, in fact, the future heir to the throne, HRH Prince Charles and his wife-to-be, Lady Diana Spencer.
© George Bush Presidential Library and Museum
Diana was born into the British nobility to the peer Viscount Althorp John Spencer and his wife, Frances, on 1st July 1961. She became known as Lady Diana Spencer in 1975, when her father inherited the title, Earl Spencer. After completing her education at a Swiss finishing school, she worked as a playgroup pre-school assistant in London.
Diana’s first meeting with Charles Prince of Wales was in November 1977, when she was only 16. However, at the time Charles was dating her sister, 22-year-old Lady Sarah. They were all guests one weekend at a country retreat, where Charles was playing polo.
Charles’ relationship with Lady Sarah eventually ended but he wasn’t to meet Diana again until the summer of 1980. By this time, Diana was 19 years old and had blossomed from the shy 16-year-old girl he had met three years earlier, into a more confident young woman.
According to media reports, Charles had decided early on that she was the woman he wished to marry and they enjoyed what was described as a whirlwind romance. Their fledgling relationship developed quickly, when Charles invited Diana for a sailing weekend in Cowes on board the royal yacht Britannia.
In November 1980, Charles invited his bride-to-be to the Royal family’s residence in Scotland. Diana attended Balmoral to meet the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Queen Mother. His family liked her from the onset and the prince continued to woo Diana in London.
He reportedly proposed on 6th February 1981 and Lady Diana agreed to become his wife but they kept their engagement under wraps until 24th February, when Diana showed off her £30,000 engagement ring to the press. During their engagement, she earned the nickname Shy Di in the press because she appeared a little phased by the media frenzy that followed them everywhere.
After the engagement, Diana left her job as a pre-school teacher. She was the first royal bride to have had a salaried job before marrying into the royal family.
Diana became Princess of Wales at the age of 20, when she married Charles in a fairy tale ceremony at St Paul’s Cathedral on 29th July 1981. Around 600,000 people lined the streets to watch the royal cavalcade pass by on their way to the ceremony and a further 750 million people watched the wedding on television.
The couple celebrated the birth of their first child – the future king of England – Prince William, on 21st June 1982. He is second in line to the throne, after Prince Charles. Their second son, Prince Henry – popularly known as Harry – was born on 15th September 1984. He is fifth in line to the throne.
Had Charles and Diana not met back in 1977, our future king, Prince William, would never have been born and the succession in line to the throne would have been vastly different. HRH Prince Andrew Duke of York would have been next in line to the throne after his older brother, Prince Charles.
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Posted by Julie Tucker
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