The late monarch and King Charles‘ first wife had a complicated relationship for a number of reasons. Here’s why the women didn’t always see eye to eye.
Queen Elizabeth didn’t think Princess Diana would find royal life difficult
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip were very happy when then-Prince Charles proposed to Lady Diana Spencer. In fact, the royal family matriarch and patriarch pushed for it as they wanted their son to marry a woman they saw as a “suitable” bride.
Diana was from an aristocratic background as the Spencers were a prominent family with close royal ties. Diana’s grandmother even worked for the queen so the monarch assumed her future-daughter-in-law understood what royal life entailed and would easily be able to transition into the Princess of Wales role.
But that wasn’t the case.
Instead, after she married Charles, Princess Diana found many aspects of being a member of the Firm difficult and detailed her experiences in audio recordings.
Diana sought the queen’s support when she told her about Charles’ affair
In a taped conversation with her speech coach, Diana revealed what Queen Elizabeth told her when she went to her about her marital problems. The princess was hoping her mother-in-law would intervene in some way but according to Diana, she did not.
“So I went to the top lady, sobbing, and I said ‘what do I do. I’m coming to you, what do I do?’ And she said ‘I don’t know what you should do. Charles is hopeless,’” Diana recalled, adding, “And that was it, and that was help.”
The queen, however, was very upset when her son and Camilla’s affair became public knowledge. She reportedly called Charles’ mistress a “wicked woman” and banned her from the palace for some time.
The queen had enough and told Charles and Diana to divorce
Charles and Diana separated in 1992, but the two did not keep quiet about the problems in their marriage including their extramarital affairs.
The now-king admitted to cheating on his wife in a televised interview in 1994. The following year Diana went on TV and gave her own explosive interview about their troubled marriage and that’s when Queen Elizabeth had enough.
Following the princess’s Panorama interview, the monarch sent a letter to both Charles and Diana strongly advising them to get a divorce. The prince wrote back shortly after saying he was in favor of a divorce but Diana took two months to respond. Ultimately though she saw no other choice and agreed as well.
The days after Diana’s death were the most controversial of the queen’s reign
The days after Diana’s death were some of the most controversial for the queen during her reign. Other than a brief statement that she and Prince Philip were “shocked and distressed by the news” there was nothing but silence from the royal family as they remained in the Scotland Highlands for several days.
While London continued to erupt in grief, it was reported that Queen Elizabeth was carrying on business-as-usual and even took Prince William and Prince Harry to church the morning their mother died. That action was viewed as cold and really rubbed people the wrong way.
The cries for the monarch to return to England and address what had happened grew louder. Finally, five days after Diana’s death, she and Prince Philip pulled up to Buckingham Palace and saw the outpouring of emotions and the growing memorial from mourners to the People’s Princess.
Upon her return, Queen Elizabeth did what the nation had been waiting for and gave a televised speech about Diana who she said she “admired and respected especially for her devotion to her two boys.”