Prince Charles and Princess Diana Were Involved in a Royal Train Sex Scandal Before They Got Married

It may not seem like that long ago, but times were different when Prince Charles and Princess Diana got married.

At the time, the British royal family put a lot more emphasis on lineage for royal wives, and they were also obsessed with the concept of virginity. That’s why the Prince of Wales wasn’t permitted to marry Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall like he wanted to.

The concept seems outdated by modern standards. However, it can’t be overstated how important it was that Diana remain a virgin until her wedding night. It was so crucial that her allegedly visiting Charles late at night — even after they were engaged — caused a huge scandal.

Prince Charles got pressured into marrying Princess Diana

Prince Charles and Princess Diana pose for their official engagement photo
Prince Charles and Princess Diana | Anwar Hussein/Getty Images

When Charles proposed to Diana, the pair had only been on a few dates and didn’t know each other well. But the heir apparent was already past 30 and royal courtiers were getting anxious for him to settle down with a suitable bride.

Diana checked all those boxes. She was young, beautiful, and came from a good family. She was also a virgin, which at the time was a prerequisite for any future queen consort. The public became quite obsessed with the status of Diana’s virginity. Especially when it was called into question after a royal train scandal.

Tabloids claimed Charles and Diana met secretly on the royal train

Prince Charles and Princess Diana board the royal train
Prince Charles and Princess Diana board the royal train | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

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The British Royal Train is used to transport senior members of the British royal family and their staff to various places. But back when Charles and Diana were still courting, this legendary train also became the source of scandalous speculation.

According to NZ Herald, the headlines in November 1980 read that Diana was smuggled onboard the royal train at night while Charles was there too. The pair at that point was engaged, but not married, making any after-hours trysts strictly off limits.

The Sunday Mirror wrote, “there followed hours alone together for the couple whose friendship has captured the country’s imagination,” insinuating that there was some hanky panky happening on the train.

And what makes the story even more shocking in retrospect is how Diana visited Camilla’s house soon after these alleged meetups. Of course, she didn’t realize at that point that her fiancé was in love with Camilla.

Princess Diana didn’t appreciate the train rumor stories

Princess Diana gets into a car outside her London apartment in 1980
Princess Diana | Jayne Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images

Prince Charles wasn’t happy to see his intended wife as the subject of tabloid fodder. And Diana also wasn’t thrilled with the insinuations. As NZ Herald reported, the Princess of Wales denied the whole thing and felt indignant at the implications.

“I was sooo shocked. I simply couldn’t believe it. I’ve never been anywhere near the train, let alone in the middle of the night,” she told Daily Mail.

“Even though they rang me up first, they printed it anyway. Afterwards they rang up to apologize but that doesn’t change people’s minds about what they think when they read a story like that.”

The royal train scandal eventually faded into obscurity once Charles and Diana became involved in even more shocking controversies, like infidelity and divorce. But it still serves as the first of many scandals between the British royal family’s most infamous couple.