Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales, wearing a pale pink dress designed by ...

A Royal Expert Has A Theory Diana Didn't Really Want To Divorce Charles

“I don’t think she ran out of that marriage.”

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Much has been said — especially in the past year — about the dissolution of Princess Diana’s marriage to Prince Charles. But according to royal expert Emma Cooper, who executive produced CNN’s six-part docu-series Diana, there’s a common misconception about Diana’s divorce. “I think that even after the separation in 1992, they still carried on doing engagements. I don’t think Diana ever really wanted to truly give up,” Cooper told Us Weekly in a Nov. 2 interview.

Diana and Charles separated in 1992 and finalized their divorce in August 1996. In Cooper’s words, though, the divorce was Queen Elizabeth’s decision. “Did [Diana] really want to do that? Look, I don’t know,” she argued. “It feels to me, from the evidence of all the testimony that we had in her own words, that it was hard for her.”

One telling anecdote was Diana’s reported reaction to receiving her divorce papers. Cooper claimed she told a royal correspondent “the one thing she wanted to do” was talk to Charles. “Then she said, ‘Oh, but I couldn’t, because I know he’d just think I was silly again,’” Cooper recalled. “I thought, ‘That’s somebody who is not walking out of a marriage without feeling emotion. And actually, on that day, she was also wearing her wedding ring. She was photographed with her wedding ring on. So, I don’t think she ran out of that marriage.”

The royals got engaged in 1981 after dating for just a few weeks; they married several months later in July 1981. But their relationship was infamously rocky: Charles had an affair with his now-wife, Camilla Parker Bowles, and Diana was open about the immense pressure she felt as a new (and very young) member of the Royal Family. “The night before the wedding I was very, very calm, deathly calm,” she told Andrew Morton for Diana: Her True Story In Her Own Words. “I felt I was a lamb to the slaughter. I knew it and couldn't do anything about it.” In recorded tapes, she referred to her wedding day as the worst day of her life.

Still, Cooper thinks she felt a tenderness towards Charles — especially as a co-parent. “It’s clear that he’s a good father, and it’s clear that they parented very well,” she said. “It would appear to us… Charles and Diana had no problems bringing up their children together, whether they were together or apart, and you can see in the sort of deep love that their sons have for both of them.”

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Charles didn’t always have the warmest words about his late ex, but some sources say he did have love for her. Simone Simmons, a psychic and close friend of Diana’s, told the Daily Mail that she thinks Charles realized how much he cared about her after her sudden death in August 1997. “I don’t think he realized how much he loved Diana until she was gone,” Simmons said in 2019. “She was the first person who showed him real love.”

Diana and Charles’ tumultuous relationship has been the subject of several recent on-screen adaptations, including the Netflix hit The Crown and the fictionalized film Spencer. In Cooper’s opinion, it’s no surprise we’re still so fascinated by her. “I really did feel that she’s the blueprint for a modern woman because she was not allowed to do many things that we are now allowed to do. She wasn’t allowed to be vulnerable,” she told Us Weekly. “I kind of thought this was absolutely fascinating that she was frequently chastised for showing her complexity as a woman when that’s just being a woman.”