Years after Princess Diana’s death, some journalists have mixed opinions about her reaction towards a statement made by Prince Charles following their engagement. It was February of 1941 and Diana was only 19-years-old. She’d left her home and her job as a kindergarten assistant to move into the Clarence House following her engagement. She wasn’t used to life in the spotlight and was taken aback by the constant questioning she faced by the media. On this particular occasion, journalists were asking the newly engaged couple whether or not they were in love. Diana gave the expected response of “yes.” However, Prince Charles answer to the question was not quite what she had hoped for. “Whatever ‘in love’ means,” he said, according to Honey.
The prince’s half-hearted response was enough to disturb Princess Diana, a sentiment that she later said would carry on into their marriage. The princess discussed this particular exchange of words in a documentary entitled, Diana: In Her Own Words, which aired in the UK. The documentary included a series of recorded interviews of Diana taken over a span of time and produced in the ’90s by Diana’s speech coach, Peter Settelen.
While some still think this old interview was a sign of what would later come in the marriage between Princess Diana and Prince Charles of Wales, others believe his response was just taken out of context. Sally Bedell Smith, author of Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbably Life told People that the prince was likely joking when he responded in this manner. Instead, she believes Princes Charles had overthought the seemingly simple question. “You should look at those words in the context of the series of interviews he gave in the 1970s about what he wanted in a wife and what being in love was all about. He can over-think things and was thinking out loud. I don’t see it as a cynical, cruel statement. She giggled and you don’t get any sense of her raising her eyebrows. It was only later when it came up — and it was misquoted to be, ‘Whatever love means’,” she said.
Bedell Smith went on to say that Prince Charles’ response to the question about love was taken out of context many times throughout the years and was later used against him when his marriage to Diana began to unravel. Nevertheless, many will continue to form their own opinions about what the strange interview really meant those many years ago.