A Look at Prince Charles and Princess Diana's Tumultuous Relationship Through the Years

It was great...until it wasn't.

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Getty ImagesGeorges De Keerle

Prince Charles and Princess Diana have a complicated history, to say the least. They first met in 1977 while Charles was dating Diana's older sister Lady Sarah McCorquodale (I know), and even after the births of their two children, Prince William and Prince Harry, the press was relentless about publicizing the affair Charles was having with Camilla Parker Bowles (whom he's now married to). Ahead, we take a look back at the evolution of Charles and Diana's relationship through the years. It wasn't all sunshine and roses, but there were definitely some sweet moments.

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Charles And Lady Sarah Spencer
Getty ImagesTim Graham
1977

Here, Charles is pictured next to Lady Sarah Spencer, who introduced him to her sister Lady Diana Spencer the same year. Though Charles and Sarah dated briefly, she reportedly said she wouldn’t marry Charles “if he were the dustman or the King of England.” And so began the relationship of Charles and Diana. Lady Sarah apparently called herself "cupid" knowing she brought them together.

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January 1980

Talk about foreshadowing. Diana and Camilla Parker-Bowles both attend the Ludlow Races where Prince Charles is competing. Charles and Camilla met in 1970 and dated briefly, but broke up when Charles left for the Royal Navy in 1971. Camilla married British Army officer Andrew Parker-Bowles in 1973.

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Press Attention
Getty ImagesIan Tyas
May 1980

The press starts to follow Diana, 19, even more closely when rumors circulate that she and Prince Charles would soon be engaged. They reportedly spent time together on just 12 occasions before their engagement.

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Diana Charles Engagement
Getty ImagesTim Graham
February 1981

Charles, 32 and Diana, 19, announce their engagement to the world and pose outside of Buckingham Palace. Look. At. That. Ring.

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Princess Diana
Getty ImagesMirrorpix
May 1981

Diana attends her first public engagement with Prince Charles at a Gala Charity Concert at Goldsmith's Hall in London.

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Charles Diana Balmoral
Tim Graham
May 1981

Prince Charles and Diana vacation at Balmoral Castle in Scotland during their engagement. And yes, those are Hunter rainboots.

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Prince and Princess of Wales
Bettmann
June 1981

Then she attends her first Royal Ascot (think: the British version of the Kentucky Derby). Meghan Markle attended her first Royal Ascot with Prince Harry 37 years later.

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Charles Diana Wedding Rehearsal
Getty ImagesTim Graham
July 1981

Diana and Charles walk out of their wedding rehearsal holding hands (a great sign!).

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Charles Diana Wedding Kissing Hand
Tim Graham
July 1981

Charles and Diana are married on Wednesday, July 29 at St. Paul's Cathedral and she officially becomes Diana, Princess of Wales.

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Balmoral Honeymoon
Getty ImagesPrincess Diana Archive
August 1981

The very happy-looking couple are pictured on their honeymoon together at Balmoral Castle. Diana's wearing an iconic suit by Bill Pashley.

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Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales
Tim Graham
June 1982

A year after their wedding, Princess Diana gives birth to her and Charles' first son, Prince William, at St. Mary's hospital after announcing her pregnancy in November. It's reported that Diana "threw herself down the stairs" when she was four months pregnant in a desperate attempt for Charles to listen to her.

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February 1983

Home life at Kensington Palace looks great on Charles, Diana, and William (who looks crazy similar to his son, Prince George).

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Royals At The Braemar Games
Getty ImagesPrincess Diana Archive
September 1983

The Palace announces that Charles and Diana are expecting their second child, but a week later Diana suffers a miscarriage.

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Diana Charles Baby Harry
Tim Graham
September 1984

In a turn of events, 23-year-old Diana quickly becomes pregnant again. A year later, she gives birth to her and Charles' second child, Prince Harry. Apparently Charles "desperately" wanted a girl and said, "Oh God, it's a boy...and he's even got red hair" when he saw him. Poor Harry.

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Prince Charles, Prince of Wales kisses Diana, Princess of Wa
Getty ImagesTim Graham
June 1985

Diana gleefully kisses Charles after she presents him with a prize at a polo match in Cirencester. Meghan did the same recently for Harry at the Sentebale Polo Match.

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December 1986

The family of four look very happy in a portrait taken at their home in Kensington Palace, but this is the same year Charles re-kindled his relationship with Camilla.

During all of this Diana suffered from bulimia, which reportedly began soon after she and Charles got engaged when he called her "chubby."

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Anwar Hussein Collection
Getty ImagesAnwar Hussein
February 1989

Princess Diana finally decides to confront Camilla about the affair with her husband at her sister's birthday party (not at the event pictured here, though it's the same year). “I was terrified of her. I said, ‘I know what’s going on between you and Charles and I just want you to know that,'” Diana recalled on tape for her biographer, Andrew Morton.

“She said to me: ‘You’ve got everything you ever wanted. All the men in the world fall in love with you and you’ve got two beautiful children, what more do you want?’ So I said, ‘I want my husband’. And I said, ‘I’m sorry I’m in the way...and it must be hell for both of you. But I do know what’s going on. Don’t treat me like an idiot.'”

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Charles And Diana Visit Cameroon
Getty ImagesTim Graham
March 1990

Charles and Diana visit Cameroon and the body language says...a lot. They continue to perform their royal duties together despite the unhappiness Charles' affair has clearly caused.

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Anwar Hussein Collection
Getty ImagesAnwar Hussein
October 1991

A year later, Charles and Diana look pretty unhappy on the first day of their royal tour in Canada. It's getting harder and harder for them to hide their feelings about each other in public.

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Anwar Hussein Collection
Getty ImagesAnwar Hussein
February 1992

Despite the kiss shown here—during their official visit to India in February—things were not well. In May, journalist Andrew Morton publishes Diana: Her True Story in Her Own Words—the biography that details her husband's extramarital affair and what life was really like for Princess Diana in the Palace.

Seven months later, British Prime Minister John Major formally announces the separation of Charles and Diana. They continue to carry out their royal duties as they have been during the years of infidelity.

The same year, tapes also leak of Diana's conversations with close friend James Gilbey. He nicknames her "Squidgy," and the phone calls become known as "Squidgygate."

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In memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, who was killed in an automobile accident in Paris, France on August 31, 1997.
Getty ImagesAnwar Hussein
June 1994

Charles admits to the world in a TV documentary that he had an affair with Camilla. He says he was faithful "until it became irretrievably broken down, us both having tried." The same evening, Diana steps out in the LBD, pictured here, appropriately referred to as the "revenge dress."

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Princess Diana Being Interviewed
Getty ImagesTim Graham
November 1995

Martin Bashir's bombshell interview with Princess Diana, entirely planned and executed in secret, is aired to the world. She talks about everything from her bulimia to her relationship with Prince Charles, but most notably she discusses her husband's affair with Camilla to which she frankly states, "Well, there were three of us in the marriage so it was a bit crowded."

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July 1996

The royal couple make their divorce official on July 15, 1996 after 15 years of marriage. Diana's royal title is taken away from her, and Charles suggests he wouldn't re-marry anytime soon.

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August 1997

A little over a year after the divorce, Princess Diana dies in a car crash in Paris. There are lots of theories about the princess' death, which was completely devastating for her children and family. Pictured are her sons, William, 15, and Harry, 12, next to their father observing the memorials left by strangers to mourn Diana. Eight years after Diana's death, Charles marries Camilla at Windsor Guildhall.

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2018

Today, Diana's children and daughters-in-law Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle continue to honor her through their family traditions and fashion choices. She remains an icon and “the people’s princess."

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