We all know that guy who likes to tell horrible dad jokes at every occasion. Most of the time, it’s slightly obnoxious, but generally not harmful. After looking over old footage from royal events, it becomes clear that Prince Charles is one of those guys. However, the joke he liked to repeat wasn’t just annoying, it was actually hurtful to Princess Diana, and may have intensified the breakdown of their marriage.
Prince Charles made a terrible joke about “two wives”
One of the big issues in Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s marriage was his affair with Camilla Parker Bowles. So, when he joked that he wished he had two wives, Princess Diana was not impressed. But Prince Charles, on the other hand, thought his joke was so funny that he repeated it multiple times.
The first time Prince Charles made the terrible joke was during an event in Brecon, Wales, where he and Princess Diana had to walk down the street to greet the crowd. According to the documentary Wallis Simpson- Royal Stories, fans were so excited to meet Princess Diana that whenever she walked away from them, they would try to call her back. The crowd was also excited to see Prince Charles, but not nearly as much as Princess Diana.
Later that day, during a banquet speech, Princess Charles made his joke about the event. “I’ve come to the conclusion,” he said, “that really it would have been far easier to have had two wives to cover both sides of the street. And I could have walked down the middle directing the operation.”
The listening crowd responded with roars of laughter, but Princess Diana kept a blank face, and her head bowed. It’s unclear if Princess Diana knew about Prince Charles’ relationship with Parker Bowles at the time he made the joke, but judging from her reaction, she probably did. Princess Diana learned about the affair early in their marriage, although it wasn’t known to the public until many years later.
Prince Charles joked about “two wives” again in South Korea
But it seems that Prince Charles didn’t learn his lesson about just how awful his joke was. Toward the end of their marriage, Prince Charles and Princess Diana made a trip to South Korea, where he made the exact same joke, told the exact same way during a state dinner with South Korean officials. Once again, the audience roars with laughter, but Princess Diana only gives a small smirk. At this point in their marriage, she knew it was over between them.
The trip to South Korea was supposed to be a “reconciliation tour” to show the public that their marriage was happy and well, despite media reports that the relationship between them had been strained for quite some time. For Princess Diana, hearing him tell the joke once again must have been an awful experience.
This time, the public back in the United Kingdom wasn’t as receptive to his joke. The news of his affair with Parker Bowles had become public knowledge, and many considered his remark to be inconsiderate. However, Prince Charles made this joke somewhat of a habit at royal engagements. He also said it in New Zealand in 1983, and even once again after he had separated from Princess Diana in 1992.
Prince Charles made other jokes about polygamy
Although his “two wives” joke was repeated often, it wasn’t the only joke about polygamy that Prince Charles made in his lifetime. Once, on a trip to India, while he was still courting Princess Diana, a reporter asked him about his prospects for a wife. Prince Charles answered: “I’m encouraged by the fact that if I were to become a Muslim, I could have lots of wives.”
The press was shocked by his strange answer, and so they did not report it correctly in the news. Instead, choosing to change his words into a respectable comment about how love built the Taj Mahal.
Several years later, Princess Diana was able to get the last word in during an interview with Martin Bashir, in which she echoed Prince Charles’ joke by saying: “Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.”