Why Did Princess Diana Say “I Can’t Marry” Prince Charles?

It’s no secret that Princess Diana and Prince Charles did not have a picture-perfect marriage. At first, they seemed like the perfect couple that had fallen straight out of a fairy tale. However, not long into their marriage, there were rumors swirling around (that have since been confirmed) that both Prince Charles and Princess Diana were having extramarital affairs. When you combine that to the fact that they also started to seem distant to each other whenever they were out in public, it didn’t take many fans long to notice that there were definite cracks in their relationship.

However, even though they had a short courtship and engagement that led to Princess Diana walking down the aisle to marry her prince, she looked so serenely happy. This is the reason why so many people are confused about why she got a case of cold feet right before the wedding. So, why did Princess Diana say that she couldn’t marry Prince Charles? Here is what we know.

Prince Charles and Princess Diana were not in love

Prince Charles and Princess Diana
Prince Charles and Princess Diana | Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

Prince Charles had first dated Camilla Parker-Bowles in the early 1970s. After they had been seeing each other for about a year, Princess Charles left to join the Royal Navy and was gone for eight months. Parker-Bowles had a hard time waiting for his return, and when Prince Charles finally did return, he found out Parker-Bowles was engaged to another man. While Parker-Bowles was off starting a family with her new husband, Prince Charles was left with the daunting task of trying to find a wife and start a family of his own.

In 1977, Prince Charles met a 16-year-old Diana Spencer while he was dating her sister, Lady Sarah. Apparently, Prince Charles was much more interested in Princess Diana than he was in her older sister, and the two started up a romantic relationship about two years later when Princess Diana was 18 and Prince Charles was 31 years old.

Prince Charles and Princess Diana had actually only seen each other a handful times when Prince Charles started feeling pressured by his family to get married. When he proposed to Princess Diana, she and Prince Charles had only seen each other on 12 different occasions.

Princess Diana and Prince Charles’ marriage was rocky from the start

Even though Parker-Bowles and Prince Charles had broken up and had seemingly moved on, they still secretly loved each other. The world may not have found out about Prince Charles’ love for Parker-Bowles until a few years after he and Princess Diana married, but Princess Diana had known about it before she had ever even walked down the aisle. 

Prince Charles and Parker-Bowles had remained close friends after the break-up. And when he proposed to Princess Diana, he had reportedly gotten a gold bracelet custom made for his “friend” Parker-Bowles in order to celebrate the grand occasion, which had seemed a little bit odd to everyone, especially Princess Diana. In an interview, Princess Diana had also once said that she had overheard Prince Charles telling Parker-Bowles that he would “always love” her right before he and Princess Diana got married.

Not only was Prince Charles flirting with his ex-girlfriend while he was engaged to Princess Diana, but she had said that while they were engaged, he had also made a comment about how she was starting to get fat. She had also said that his comment was one of the things that had started her down the dangerous path of bulimia.

Why did Princess Diana say she can’t marry Prince Charles?

Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s engagement was riddled with insecurities and trust issues, so it is no wonder that Princess Diana had major doubts about saying “I do” to the Prince of Wales.

According to the Telegraph, Princess Diana had once told her biographer, Andrew Morton, that the day before her wedding she went to her sisters and said: “I can’t marry him, I can’t do this, this is absolutely unbelievable.” Her sisters didn’t show the most compassion and had told her that it was too late to change her mind and that she would have to go through with the wedding regardless of how she had felt about the Prince of Wales at the time.