Princess Diana Was Forbidden From Getting Close to Prince Charles Before Their Royal Wedding

Princess Diana and Prince Charles didn’t have a normal courtship by any measure. The royal pair only went on a handful of dates before getting engaged and they barely knew each other when they tied the knot. Plus, there was the pesky detail of Charles being in love with another woman.

It turns out these royals had an even weirder courtship than people realized. In a 1992 interview, Diana’s biographer revealed that the Princess of Wales wasn’t even allowed to call her betrothed by his first name until they were officially engaged. And that’s not the only way they didn’t know each other.

Royal courtiers pressured Prince Charles to marry Princess Diana

Prince Charles and Princess Diana at the opening of Mountbatten Exhibition at Broadlands
Prince Charles and Princess Diana | Bettman/Contributor via Getty Images

Charles fell quickly and deeply in love with Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall when the two were both young adults. But the powerful people in charge of the royal family convinced the future king that Camilla could never be his queen. Instead, they pushed Charles to find a young, virginal bride from a respectable family to become his wife.

The Prince of Wales followed duty instead of following his heart. He had first met Diana Spencer while he was dating her older sister Sarah. Even though the pair didn’t have similar temperaments and only went on 12 dates before becoming engaged, Diana certainly checked all the boxes for suitable royal wife material.

Charles and Diana got engaged in February 1981 and wed in an extravagant ceremony that same July. 

Diana was only permitted to call Prince Charles ‘Sir’ at first

Prince Charles and Princess Diana during their engagement announcement
Prince Charles and Princess Diana | Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

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The British royal family has dozens of rules when it comes to titles and signs of respect. Surprisingly, these customs extended beyond commoners and even applied to Princess Diana before she and Charles became engaged in 1981.

Diana’s biographer Andrew Morton recounted how Diana was forced to address Charles in a specific way during their courtship.

“It was not until Lady Diana was formally engaged to His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales that she was given permission to call him ‘Charles.’ Until then she had demurely addressed him as ‘Sir,'” Morton wrote in Diana: Her True Story, Business Insider reported. 

Unsurprisingly, this formality did not apply both ways. “He called her Diana,” the biographer continued. “In Prince Charles’ circle this was considered the norm.”

Diana had to stay a virgin until her wedding night

It was bad enough that Princess Diana had to call her boyfriend, “Sir.” But she was also forbidden from becoming intimate until after the official wedding. The public became obsessed with the status of 19-year-old Diana’s virginity.

According to Vanity Fair, Diana’s uncle Lord Fermoy said in an interview with the Daily Star: “Purity seems to be at a premium when it comes to discussing a possible bride for Prince Charles at the moment . . . Diana, I can assure you, has never had a lover.”

Princess Diana and Prince Charles had an epically disastrous marriage

Prince Charles and Princess Diana attend a royal event
Prince Charles and Princess Diana | Anwar Hussein/WireImage

The awkward titles were just a harbinger of disaster for Charles and Diana’s marriage.

Not only did the couple barely know each other when they wed, but also they were poorly matched from the start. Charles was raised to keep his true feelings hidden while Diana’s more emotionally expressive nature was the exact opposite. She wanted him to open up while he wished she would stop being so dramatic.

And Diana always knew Charles preferred Camilla. The two even had covert nicknames for each other, which they used once they began an extramarital affair several years into Charles and Diana’s royal marriage. It’s safe to assume Camilla was never forced to call Charles “Sir” like Diana was.