Princess Diana captured attention from the moment the world learned about her. Just 19 when she met Prince Charles, Diana looked like the most angelic, innocent young lady and it was clear to just about everyone that she adored her future king. But the fairytale between the pair started off on rocky footing; during their engagement announcement, Charles made the infamous comment, “Whatever love means,” when asked if he loved Diana (via Town & Country). Anyone paying attention could tell that his affections remained elsewhere, but people wanted to buy into the fantasy. The couple got married in a lavish ceremony, had two children, and looked to be the perfect royal pairing.
But as history dictates, things often go downhill quickly. Rumors of infidelity plagued the marriage between Diana and Charles, and in 1992, the couple announced that they were separating, as noted by History. Charles admitted that he had an affair while married to Diana in 1994 (per The New York Times), and a year later, Diana sat down with the BBC for an explosive interview that all but killed any hopes of the couple settling their differences.
So how did Diana’s life change after the pair finally called it quits? Here’s everything you need to know.
The world was exposed to Princess Diana's post-divorce persona after this shocking admission
Two years after Prince Charles and Princess Diana announced that they were separating, the world got a glimpse at the new Diana. According to Reader’s Digest, Diana attended an event in June 1994 and literally shocked the world when she stepped out in a stunning black dress.
Of course, to any royal fan, you know that the dress had significant meaning. Earlier that day, Charles’ tell-all documentary had aired, and he had finally admitted to his infidelity. As such, Diana busted out the “revenge dress” from her closet, matched it with a stunning pearl choker, and dazzled in front of the cameras. “We call it the ‘revenge dress’ [because] she wore it the same evening Prince Charles confessed to his adultery with Camilla,” Kerry Taylor, who auctioned some of Diana’s clothing, explained. “While some would have been like, ‘I can’t face it this evening,’ Diana went out in that dress looking drop-dead gorgeous. She made a big statement.”
In fact, Diana had owned the dress for three years, but had yet to be seen in it because she thought it was “too daring.” But her post-separation life gave her the guts to walk out in unapologetic style.
Princess Diana's relationship with her son, Prince William, changed profoundly due to her divorce
Divorce is hard on any kid, but imagine watching your parents battle it out in national (and international) headlines. As noted by Express, Princess Diana’s relationship with Prince William was significantly altered due to her divorce (an unwelcome change, we’re certain). Royal sources shared that Diana was “too emotional” when she was around William, as it was claimed that she “would cry on [his] shoulder” as her union to his father, Prince Charles, came to a close. It should be noted that William was just a kid at the time.
Jennie Bond, the former royal correspondent for the BBC, alleged that William would slide tissues underneath the door to Diana’s bathroom when he could hear her crying. He reportedly told her, “It’ll be alright mummy, it’ll be alright, I’ll look after you,” in her hours of need. Bond claimed that during the divorce, it should’ve been the other way around — that Diana should’ve been the rock for her sons, not vice versa. But additionally, the divorce did give Diana some freedom as a parent, and she even took her boys out to restaurants and amusement parks as a result.
Princess Diana lost this title after divorcing Prince Charles
Royal titles are a big deal — they signify important and noteworthy standings within the royal family. To that end, when she got divorced from Prince Charles, Princess Diana officially had to give up her “Her Royal Highness” title. If it doesn’t sound like a big deal, let us explain. According to The New York Times, Diana being stripped of her HRH title meant that she would have to curtsy to all of her former family members. This, of course, included her ex-husband and her two sons, who both had HRH titles at the time. Additionally, Queen Elizabeth was reportedly fine with the idea of Diana keeping her HRH title, but it was Charles who insisted that she give it up.
Diana was allowed to keep the Princess of Wales title, which at the time had become synonymous with her name in the public arena. Some royal experts have argued that if Diana had gotten married a second time, however, her Princess of Wales title would have most likely been taken away. Ironically, Prince Harry gave up his HRH title after stepping down from his role as a senior royal — talk about full circle (via Standard).
Princess Diana's financial control changed after her divorce
When Princess Diana and Prince Charles formally announced their divorce, it shocked the world. At the time, The New York Times wrote that the shift would “irrevocably” alter Diana’s life, and a large portion of that change had to do with her finances. The newspaper reported that Charles “formally declared” that he would cease paying Diana’s bills. Eric Golding, the administrator who oversaw the couple’s settlement, signed a letter that included, for example, that the bills from 40 of Diana’s favorite stores were to be sent directly to her from then on, marking a significant shift from her life as a royal.
“With effect from 2 September 1996, any expenditure incurred by or on behalf of Her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales, on or after that date should be invoiced directly to the Princess of Wales’s Office, Apartment 7, Kensington Palace, London,” the letter wrote, which was dated on August 21, 1996 — just a year before Diana’s tragic death. Given that Diana was a fan of many designers, including David Sassoon and Catherine Walker, it’s safe to say that she incurred quite the tab (via Vogue).
Princess Diana walked away from her divorce with a huge settlement
Princess Diana was of course afforded the spoils of royal life. But after she got divorced, she was granted a massive settlement. As noted by The News, Diana walked away with an estimated £17 million, which is about $23.7 million. But that was in 1996, and it is estimated that in today’s money, she settled for about £31 million, which is equivalent to $43.2 million. On top of her massive pay out, Diana was granted an annual allowance of £400,000 (about $557,000) — but of course, that’s about £730,000 today (or roughly $1.01 million).
Apparently, Prince Charles did not take the news about Diana’s settlement very well. In her book, “The Diana Chronicles,” Tina Brown wrote, “The Prince was first stunned, then outraged, when, in April [he was] presented with Diana’s final £17 million term.” But Diana recognized that although the situation was devastating, she had the upper hand. Charles was reportedly “desperate to be rid of her,” so she used the opportunity to negotiate on her own behalf. Diana allegedly went to Queen Elizabeth and made it clear that if her terms weren’t fulfilled, she wouldn’t agree to the divorce.
Princess Diana's place of residence did not change, but her office headquarters did
One of the first shared assets that gets discussed in divorce proceedings is the house — who gets to keep it, who moves out, and how long there is before selling becomes an unavoidable consequence? Well luckily for Princess Diana, being forced out of her residence of Kensington Palace was never on the table (after all, it’s been in the royal family for ogles of years).
Marie Claire reported that Diana retained residence at the palace, and was afforded apartments eight and nine — of course, the apartments weren’t the one bedroom, one bathroom walk-ups of our 30s, but rather three stories of property. One story, on its own, served as a nursery for Prince William and Prince Harry. In addition, Diana had to move her office as a result of her divorce. However, as noted by The New York Times, her office in St. James’ Palace was cleared out, as it was next door to Charles’ office, and her professional setup was established in Kensington. Her drawing room at Kensington doubled as her office space, and as noted by Marie Claire, the room was full of her favorite books.
Diana was able to keep some royal perks when it came to travel
Any fan of the royal family knows that there are protocols on top of protocols. When it comes to traveling, for example, two heirs to the British throne cannot fly together (meaning that Prince William technically isn’t allowed to travel with his children, as they are all heirs to the throne). When Princess Diana got divorced from Prince Charles, her life — when it came to traveling — was altered in an interesting way. As noted by The New York Times, “much of Diana’s financial future [was] in her own hands,” after the divorce, including her vacations.
That was a big change for Diana, as typically royal family members are afforded large budgets for traveling — so much so that they can afford to stay in exquisite hotels in amazing locations. However, that benefit ended when Diana and Charles got divorced. Diana also faced other travel limitations, and unless she was venturing on private vacation, Queen Elizabeth and the Foreign Office had to give their consent before she could leave the country.
After her divorce, Princess Diana lost almost her entire staff
Most, if not all the royals are granted a significant staff. For example, Queen Elizabeth has staff members that do the strangest things for her — including breaking in her shoes, and waking her up to the sound of bagpipes (via Insider). Princess Diana and Prince Charles were most likely granted a well-rounded staff when they were married, but according to Vanity Fair, Diana’s staff was stripped down to just three members when she and Charles got divorced.
When she established her post-divorce life in Kensington Palace, Diana had a cleaner, a cook, and a dresser. As such, her butler, Paul Burrell, wore many hats and fulfilled many of the services that were not occupied by individual staff members. Reader’s Digest revealed that he served as a driver, an assistant, a delivery serviceman, a close companion, and as the “crying towel” holder. Yes, you read that correctly.
In fact, Diana and Burrell shared such a close bond, that Diana once said that he was “her rock,” as noted by The Sun. Prior to working for Diana, Burrell had worked as Queen Elizabeth’s footman, so he knew a thing or two about maintaining royal life and decorum (and the crying towel).
Princess Diana's relationship with her security protection changed after her divorce
Princess Diana was hounded by members of the public, members of the media, and just about everyone else as soon as it became clear that she was romantically involved with Prince Charles. A famous photo of Diana leaving her job as a teacher sparked years of paparazzi interest, and as such, her safety was of the utmost importance. But as noted by The Telegraph, her relationship with her police protection changed drastically after her divorce. Diana was offered a security detail after her divorce was finalized, but she refused it, as she reportedly thought that the officers near her were reporting her actions to Charles (via International Business Times).
Lord Condon, the former commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, revealed during a hearing at the High Court in London that he had asked Diana many times if she’d be willing to ramp up her security in the years after her separation from Charles. However, on many occasions, she wouldn’t budge. We hear you asking why, but she had a pretty good reason. “She was making judgments about who she could believe was on her side and who was not,” Condon explained.
Princess Diana had to deal with rumors about her ex-husband's infidelity, even after their divorce
Princess Diana and Prince Charles separated in 1992, so it was really only a matter of time before they got divorced. However, in the immediate aftermath of the announcement of their official divorce in 1996, Diana had to deal with Charles’ infidelity and, of course, Camilla Parker Bowles. At the time of the divorce announcement, The New York Times reported that over that very weekend the shocking news broke, Charles was spotted with Camilla. The two were spending time together at a mutual friend’s house in Wales, and were even photographed talking with the people they were staying with.
As The New York Times put it, the photos were proof that Charles had never given up his love affair with Camilla, “whom many Britons blame, at least in part, for the demise of the royal marriage.” Let us just remind you that The New York Times wrote that in 1996, even though it reads like it could’ve been written yesterday. In addition, Diana had to deal with the public’s speculation as to whether or not Charles and Camilla would ever get married. Talk about a stressful situation.
As a result of the divorce, Princess Diana had to give this back to the royal family
We can’t even begin to imagine just how stressful a divorce is, let alone a divorce that is so public. Yet that was the situation that Princess Diana was in, and not only did she have to navigate difficult terrain, but she was forced to give back an item to the royal family. As noted by Town & Country, Diana had to give back the Cambridge Lover’s Knot tiara, which was given to her by Queen Elizabeth as a wedding present. That had to have stung.
As far as her other jewelry was concerned, Diana got to keep most of it. Famously, she kept her sapphire and diamond engagement ring, and the ring in question was left to Prince Harry at the time of her death — yes, you read that correctly. According to the New Zealand Herald, the ring was originally left to Harry, but he gave it to his older brother, Prince William, so he could pop the question to Kate Middleton with it. Kate has since been seen in the famous ring, as well as the Cambridge Lover’s Knot tiara, both nods to the late princess.
After her divorce, Princess Diana started dating again
When one relationship ends, new ones can begin, and by the time Princess Diana and Prince Charles’ divorce was finalized, they had already been separated for four years. As such, Diana got back into the dating game, and didn’t have to hide behind closed doors (as both she and Charles were having affairs when they were married). As per People, Diana was romantically involved with Hasnat Khan, a surgeon, in 1995 — while she was still married, but separated from her then-husband. The outlet noted that she had even taken steps such as meeting Khan’s parents, and Khan had even met Prince William and Prince Harry.
But the two weren’t meant to last, and Diana was later involved with Dodi Fayed. Fayed was an Egyptian heir, and his father, Mohamed Al-Fayed, famously owned Harrods department store. Diana and Dodi were linked in 1997, and were together for just a few months before their lives were both ended in a tragic car accident in Paris, France. Dodi’s father has since maintained that the incident that took his son’s life, as well as Diana’s, was not an accident (via the BBC).
Surprisingly, Princess Diana's relationship with Prince Charles improved after she divorced him
It is not super common for divorced people to get along well, but after the bitterness surrounding their separation had died down, Prince Charles and Princess Diana were seemingly getting along. As noted by The Telegraph, Diana had a luncheon with Tina Brown, the then-editor of The New Yorker, shortly before she died and shared that she and Charles “were on the best terms they’d been for a very long time.” Brown dished about the sit down to The Telegraph, and shared some details that were a bit shocking, but also a touch heartwarming about the princess’s life post-divorce.
“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 shared. “They even had some laughs together.” So what contributed to their improving relationship? Things between them in the headlines had quelled, their children were getting older, and Diana had finally come to terms with Camilla Parker Bowles. “But she said to me at that lunch that she would go back to Charles in a heartbeat if he wanted her,” Brown revealed, adding just a twinge of heartbreak to the otherwise improving relationship.
Princess Diana made a name for herself as an advocate for this issue following her divorce
As a member of the royal family, Princess Diana was always on the scene when it came to royal work, and she made quite the name for herself as a patron and advocate. But it was after her divorce when Diana truly came into her own, and her work in the minefield-ravaged lands of South Africa and Botswana really put her on the map. Photos of Diana walking through cleared minefields garnered international attention, and according to Town & Country, her dedication to the issue put a spotlight on a travesty that just seldom talked about.
During her famous visit to Angola in 1997, Diana was championing an international treaty that would ban land mines, and her confidence gave the much ignored issue the spotlight it needed. Diana died tragically shortly after, and we think it’s safe to say that she was just getting started in her philanthropic work. As such, her son, Prince Harry, returned to Angola and picked up where his mother left off. His visit to the country where Diana turned heads was described as a “particularly significant and poignant journey,” and it’s certainly one we won’t forget.
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