Princess Diana Revealed to a Royal Author the Real Reason Why Her Marriage to Prince Charles Ended Not Long Before She Died in 1997

And no, it apparently wasn’t Camilla Parker-Bowles.

Prince Charles and Princess Diana
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Just before Princess Diana died in the summer of 1997, royal author Ingrid Seward said that the then-Princess of Wales divulged to her why her 15-year marriage to then-Prince Charles collapsed—and it wasn’t because of his affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles.

Speaking to The Sun, Seward recalled a conversation she had with Diana not long before her untimely death, which came just 368 days after her divorce from Charles was finalized on August 28, 1996. (The two married on July 29, 1981, separated in 1992, and ultimately finalized their split four years later; Diana died on August 31, 1997 as a result of a car accident in Paris.) In that conversation, Seward revealed that Diana told her that Camilla wasn’t the reason for their relationship’s demise. 

Lord Palumbo greets Princess Diana, wearing a short black cocktail dress designed by Christina Stambolian, as she atttends a Gala at the Serpentine Gallery in Hyde Park

Revenge dress aside, Diana told a royal author that Charles' years-long extramarital affair with Camilla wasn't the cause of the demise of their marriage.

(Image credit: Getty/Tim Graham)

“She had this specter of Camilla in her head the whole time,” said Seward, who, in addition to writing numerous books about the royal family, is editor-in-chief of Majesty Magazine. “She was obsessed. Yet, when I last spoke to her, I brought Camilla up, and she said, ‘Oh, it wasn’t Camilla that ruined our marriage.’”

What, pray tell, was the cause? “She said, ‘It was the people around my husband,’” Seward continued. “I thought to myself, ‘It wasn’t Camilla? You’ve been complaining and complaining about her all these years.’”

Princess Diana and Camilla Parker-Bowles

Forces other than Camilla were at play that broke the marriage down, Diana said.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Prince Charles and Princess Diana in 1983

The couple, seen here in 1983, showed cracks in the marriage early on.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Seward added “But she changed tack and said it was the environment in which keeping a royal marriage together, you’ve got to be very strong, and probably far more mature than she was.”

Princess Diana and the Lady Dior bag

Diana, seen here in 1995 in Liverpool.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

King Charles and Queen Camilla at the Easter service

Queen Camilla, seen here at Easter service with King Charles, has been the backbone of the royal family as her husband battles cancer.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Camilla has stepped up and stepped in for her husband, now King Charles, for most of 2024 as he battles a form of cancer still undisclosed to the public. “People really respect her,” Seward said of the Queen. “She was 50 when she got into this family, and now she’s 76. Unless you’re born into it, it’s quite hard. The Windsors have massive energy. Charles as a young man used to run everywhere, Prince Philip would run everywhere. Camilla doesn’t have that kind of energy, and it really takes it out of her and I think a lot of people have a lot of respect for her.”

Rachel Burchfield
Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor

Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.