Not All Princesses Get Their Happily Ever Afters: The Tale of Charles, Diana, and Camilla
In the wee hours of July 29, 2981, millions of Americans dragged themselves out of bed to watch a royal wedding between HRH Charles, Prince of Wales, and Diana Spencer, daughter of a peer of the Realm in London. Collectively we oohed and aah-ed at the royal coaches, The Dress, tiaras, major and minor royals, and of course the carriage ride of the bride up to the steps of St. Paul’s. The moment she stepped from the coach in all her diaphanous wrinkled silk glory, veil wafting in the wind, we were completely smitten with this young girl about to get her fairy tale come true.
Diana Spencer was three years younger than me, an innocent from a fractured family like mine, except her father had stuck around and mummy had left three young girls behind. Anyone with half a brain would know this young, sweet girl was hefting major emotional baggage, but then we are talking about the Windsors who have some exceeding dim bulbs in their membership.
Before the royal marriage proposal, before she’d wandered into the radar of her husband-to-be, Diana’s marriage to the Prince of Wales was doomed. Not because of her emotional baggage, but because her prince fiance’ and his mistress planned to keep up their relationship. No matter that Charles would one day be the head of the Church of England as king, no matter the importance of wedding vows, or the heart of a young girl, Charles and Camilla were a couple. The problem was that Bowles-Parker would not do as a princess back then. Charles needed a bride who could give him heirs to the throne of England, and Camilla Bowles-Parker was unmarriageable in the eyes of his family and church. She was married, and therefore no innocent, virginal candidate.
So Charles proposed, Diana accepted, expecting her Happy Ever After, but even before the wedding discovered Charles was in love with Camilla. Diana went through with the wedding despite the shabby evidence of her fiance’s unfaithfulness, and as the cliche’ goes, the rest was history.
She gave her husband three beautiful boys, royal heirs, and privately fell apart while Camilla Bowles-Parker won.
If I were the Brothers Grimm, I would say the Homely Prince won the Wicked Witch, sacrificing the beautiful princess. The anti-HEA. Romance readers would attack me with torches and pitchforks, and the fairy tale aficionados would do likewise.
As we all know, the prince and princess divorced and left a lot of ugliness in the press. Diana went looking for a grown-up man for her HEA, and died tragically in a Paris traffic tunnel. Charles made a stiff upper lip and brought her home to be buried, finally showing some manly cojones. The antithesis of that beautiful royal wedding played out in Westminister Abbey, as we said goodbye to a woman who deserved her happy ending, but was cheated out of it.
While I listened to her brother chastise the Royals for their treatment of his beloved sister during the funeral, I was sitting in the proverbial “amen corner”.
When Charles wed Camilla, I rolled my eyes and said “well, someone got their HEA, even if it was the people who’d left such tragedy and wreckage behind.”
The two beautiful boys that Diana tragically left behind have grown into men, and they still bear the stamp of her huge, loving heart. Two men came from that tragic day in 1981, and Diana’s boys will always have a place in my heart. They seem to know her tragedy is not theirs, and their own happy ever after is dependent on the things they were taught by their loving mother.