Princess Diana, Prince Charles Stunned World With Divorce Announcement 22 Years Ago Today

Princess Diana and Prince Charles
Patrick Riviere / Getty Images

After four years of separation, Princess Diana and Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, formally divorced on August 28, 1996 – 22 years ago today.

Fans of the royal family had hoped that the couple could work out their issues after beginning their relationship with what was considered largely a fairytale courtship and wedding.

But, after 15 years of marriage and two sons, Princes William and Harry, the couple formally dissolved their union.

The monarchy hoped for a happy ending for the couple who wed on July 29, 1981, with nearly one billion television viewers in 74 countries tuning in to watch the royal spectacle that led up to the union of Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, and Lady Diana Spencer, a young English schoolteacher.

History recalled that the couple was married in a grand ceremony at St. Paul’s Cathedral in the presence of 2,650 guests.

Their first child, Prince William, was born in 1982, and their second, Prince Harry, in 1984.

The couple’s relationship troubles began soon after they announced their engagement, but the issues were not part of the media frenzy prior to their wedding day.

Diana, insecure and shy about relationships, realized that her husband was still involved with a woman he had been in love with for years, Camilla Parker Bowles.

The stress of planning such a grand wedding in the public eye, as well as her soon-to-be husband’s commitment issues, took a toll on the young Diana, and those closest to the princess alleged that she call off the wedding before the big day, according to the book Diana: Her True Story.

Two wedding dresses were designed for Princess Diana
  AP Images

The book, which revealed intimate details about the couple’s deteriorating relationship, originally published in 1992, was produced with the full cooperation and input of Princess Diana.

Charles’ relationship with Camilla continued throughout the couple’s marriage, leaving Diana to figure out who she was as a royal. This led the princess to philanthropy, becoming a champion of causes such as AIDS and children’s issues.

The couple’s marriage floundered under the eyes of the world’s tabloid media. Diana and Charles announced a separation in 1992, though they continued to carry out their royal duties.

In August 1996, two months after Queen Elizabeth II urged the couple to divorce, the prince and princess reached a final agreement.

  Lionel Cironneau / AP Photo

Princess Diana’s divorce settlement, according to History, included her right to retain her apartments at Kensington Palace and her title of “Princess of Wales.”

She also agreed to relinquish the title of “Her Royal Highness” and any future claims to the British throne.

Just one year after the couple finalized their divorce, Princess Diana was killed alongside her companion Dodi Fayed on August 31, 1997, in a car accident in Paris.

Prince Charles would later marry his longtime mistress, Camilla Parker Bowles, on April 9, 2005.