Prince Charles Sent Diana A Gift Hours Before Their Wedding, But It Didn’t Allay Her Fears

Princess Diana & Prince Charles during a tour of Australia
Patrick Riviere / Getty Images

The night before Princess Diana’s wedding to Prince Charles in 1981, she received a gift from him in the form of a family signet ring, along with a touching note from her husband-to-be.

The gift is not surprising for a member of the royal family. Charles wears a signet ring on his pinkie finger as his wedding ring, and his brother, Prince Andrew, also wore one during the decade he and Sarah, Duchess of York, were married. Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, was also spotted wearing one at a royal engagement last week.

According to the Sun, while Diana later described the gift as “very nice,” it didn’t prevent her from spending the night “sobbing her eyes out.”

Royal biographer Andrew Morton, author of Diana: In Her Own Words, reports on what the People’s Princess had to say about the special occasion.

“I remember my husband being very tired – both of us were quite tired. Big day. He sent me a very nice signet ring the night before to Clarence House, with the Prince of Wales feathers on and a very nice card that said: ‘I’m so proud of you and when you come up I’ll be there at the altar for you tomorrow. Just look ’em in the eye and knock ’em dead.’ Great anticipation. Happiness because the crowds buoyed you up – I don’t think I was happy.”

The couple tied the knot on a Wednesday, and two-days earlier had to be in St Paul’s Cathedral practicing for the big day. Given the high anticipation of the event, the media swarmed their rehearsal, reminding a young Diana about the pressure she would be under once she said “I do.”

The princess remembered that aside from the growing anticipation around the wedding among the press and the public, she was having to deal with other things behind closed doors, including suspicions of her husband’s continued affair with his ex-girlfriend Camilla Parker-Bowles. Just days before the wedding, Diana had discovered a bracelet he had sent to Camilla.

The resultant stress, coupled with the fact that she had no one to talk to about her fears and her young age at the time, lead to Diana spend the night before her wedding sobbing uncontrollably.

Her pre-wedding jitters turned out to be well-founded, as just a few short years into their marriage she realized Charles was indeed still seeing Camilla behind her back. The foreboding of her nerves before her wedding were only a prelude to the many tears she would shed within her marriage before it eventually ended in the early 1990’s. Diana and Charles officially split in 1996, just a year before her sudden death in a car crash in Paris.