Were Princess Diana and Prince Charles ever truly in love — or was their 1981 fairy-tale wedding nothing but the first step in a decade-long sham? Prince Charles, now 65-years-old, never speaks about such intimate matters. And Diana took the truth to her grave when she died in a 1997 car crash.
Regardless of whether their marriage was phony from the start, there remains no doubt that, by 1992, the royal couple had fallen apart. But at the time, the British — and for that matter, American — public were still mostly in the dark about the depth of the division between Princess Diana and Prince Charles.
While the couple were by that time living apart and rumors were rampant about their rocky marriage, the reality of their relationship finally exploded into the open on Valentine’s Day in 1992 when a photo — seen above — circulated around the world that showed what appeared to be a deliberate humiliation of the Prince by Diana.
“As he went in to plant a seemingly affectionate kiss on her cheek, Diana was having none of it. She made a point of ducking her head away at the last moment, leaving Charles to land the awkward smackeroo somewhere behind the Princess’s ear.”
In his new book, On Duty With The Queen: My Time as a Buckingham Palace Press Officer, a tell-all that reportedly has Prince Charles and his 88-year-old mother, Queen Elizabeth II, enraged, former royal aide Dickie Arbiter reveals the behind-the-scenes story of that infamously cringe-worthy photograph.
The story really starts way back in 1980, the year before Charles and Diana were married, when the then-32-year-old Prince visited India’s Taj Mahal. He vowed then and there to return one day not alone, but with his future bride.
Fast forward to 1992, when Prince Charles and Princess Diana were on a royal tour of India. But instead of taking his wife of 11 years to visit the wondrous building, Charles opted to attend a business meeting, leaving Diana to visit the Taj Mahal on her own.
A few days later, Charles was playing in a polo match, and Diana was scheduled to hand out awards after the match. Still furious over her husband’s Taj Mahal snub, the Princess at first refused. But Arbiter, he said, somehow talked her into fulfilling her obligation.
But when she handed an award to Charles he committed yet another inexplicable faux pas — and forgot to kiss her. When he attempted to make up for the painful gaffe, returning to kiss Diana on the cheek, the Princess chose that moment to take her public revenge, leaving Prince Charles hanging with his puckered lips in the air.
“Incensed, the Princess swivelled her head so that the kiss landed near her ear,” Arbiter recalls in his book. “The crowd, as well as those of us accompanying the royal couple, could only cringe. The Prince had clearly been intentionally humiliated, and we knew he’d be furious.”
Princess Diana and Prince Charles made their separation public later that year. They divorced in 1996, and just a year later Princess Diana was dead.