The rocky road that was the marriage of Prince Charles and Princess Diana is well known the world over. There are many who to this day are angry with Charles about his affair that ruined what could have been a fairytale life and dream come true for Diana. When they divorced after 15 years of marriage, reactions among the public ranged from anger with Charles to relief and hope that perhaps Diana could go on to a better life and the joy that she was at last free of a miserable marriage. When she died a year later, however, the entire world mourned.
Diana’s death also stirred up anger among her fans who hated the media attention they knew was a thorn in her side and believed contributed to her early and tragic demise. This anger was fueled also by the total absence of any reaction from the palace for several days. The queen did finally issue a public statement on Diana’s death, but many have wondered how Charles reacted. Unsure whether he ever loved her, they wondered if her death had upset him. Cheat Sheet reports that royal author Tina Brown who wrote The Diana Chronicles and appeared in 2017’s documentary Diana: 7 Days That Shook The Windsors described the impact of Princess Diana’s death on her ex-husband, Prince Charles.
Prince Charles was notified of Diana’s death soon after her death at about 3 a.m. on August 31, 1997. Brown said that the news hit him hard and that he was worried about the fallout with the public and the impact on their sons William and Harry.
“He was absolutely distraught. He fell apart… He knew, instantly, that this was going to be a terrible thing, that…he will be blamed, that they [the royal family] will be blamed, for the death of Diana.”
Given the hour, he debated about waking William and Harry to tell them the news. Queen Elizabeth eventually made the decision for him, saying that it would be best to let them sleep and tell them when they woke. He made what he called a surreal trip to Paris with Diana’s sisters Lady Sarah and Lady Jane to collect her body.
The queen also made the decision to take the boys with the rest of the family to Balmoral Castle in Scotland where they could deal with the death of their mother in a more private manner. They were at Balmoral when Diana’s body arrived in London. They made no comment whatsoever on Diana’s death and photos of William and Harry attending church with their grandmother the morning after their mother died was seen as cold by the British public. Finally, on September 5, the royal family returned to London, and Queen Elizabeth paid tribute to Princess Diana in a live broadcast. However, it was a statement by then Prime Minister Tony Blair that stuck with so many around the world. In that statement, he referred to Diana as “the People’s Princess.” It’s a term used by many in the years since her passing.