We all love to sit around and fantasize about fairytale weddings and royal romances. After all, who doesn’t love a good love story, especially when it involves a handsome prince and a gorgeous princess? Since we get obsessed with all of the details in royal relationships, we’re often horrified when the curtain is pulled back and everything isn’t as rosy as we thought. Just like commoners, royals aren’t immune to divorce.
Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana had one of the most shocking divorces of all time. Prince Andrew, the future king’s younger brother also had a divorce that was riddled with scandal and humiliation. Despite all of this, royals try to handle divorces with as much dignity and grace as they can muster. An alarming amount of protocol must happen when royals get divorced. You won’t believe what Princess Diana had to do in the wake of her failed marriage (page 12).
1. A modern revolution
Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones | AFP/Getty Images
- Princess Margaret’s 1978 divorce was the first in modern royal history.
Divorce is a modern revolution amongst the royals. In fact, there was a massive crisis in 1936 when King Edward VII decided to abdicate the throne because the crown refused to grant him permission to marry American commoner, Wallis Simpson. Simpson had been divorced twice before. There would be no Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex without the W/E scandal.
In fact, when Queen Elizabeth’s sister, Princess Margaret wanted to marry divorced military man Peter Townsend, parliament refused to grant their permission. The princess went on to marry Antony Armstrong-Jones, a photographer. When their marriage ended 18 years later in 1978, it was the first divorce for a senior member of the royal family since 1901.
Next: The royal family doesn’t grant quickie divorces.
2. A long waiting period
Princess Diana and Prince Charles | Patrick Riviere/Getty Images
- The People’s Princess and the future king were separated for three years before finally divorcing.
Though the relationship may have fizzled long ago, the crown wants to be sure that there is no room for reconciliation. Therefore, when royals decide to get divorced, they are typically forced into a trial separation that can go on for several years.
When Princess Diana and Prince Charles decided to pull the plug on their 14-year marriage, the pair first separated in 1992. In her interview with Panaorma, the late princess famously said they, “didn’t want to disappoint the public.” At the time, the former couple didn’t believe they would actually ever divorce.
Instead, they were resolved to try and live sperate lives. However, they did finally divorce in 1995 after the queen got sick of the scandals and back and forth between them.
Next: The queen will usually try to get royals to change their minds.
3. Royal intervention
Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth | Fiona Hanson/AFP/Getty Images
- Princess Diana confided in Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh about her failing marriage.
Since they’ve been married for like 100 years, it’s clear that Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth are not fans of divorce. However, three out of four of their children have ended their marriages. Still, that doesn’t stop the highest ranking royals from intervening at the start of divorce talks.
When Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s marriage began to crumble, the older couple tried to help with reconciliation. Prince Philip and Princess Diana, who called the duke “Pa,” often exchanged letters about her failing marriage. In one letter, the navy man finally gave up explaining, “I will always do my utmost to help you and Charles to the best of my ability. . . but I am quite ready to concede that I have no talent as a marriage counselor.”
Next: Skipping the paperwork
4. Living separate lives
Princess Caroline of Monaco-Hanover and Prince Ernst August of Hanover | Valery Hache/AFP/Getty Images
- Princess Caroline and Prince Ernst try to pretend that they aren’t still married.
With the massive amounts of paperwork and heartache, sometimes it is just easier for royals to live separate lives rather than going through the headache of a divorce. Princess Caroline of Monaco, Princess Grace and Prince Rainier’s eldest daughter, married Prince Ernst August in 1999. However, since the prince is quite the womanizer, the pair have been separated since 2009 and live two different lives.
Unfortunately, Prince Ernst doesn’t know much about tact and decorum. He has often been in the news for his various run-ins with the law. He also enjoys openly frolicking with other women.
Next: The last resort
5. A golden ticket
Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips | STF/AFP/Getty Images
- A huge scandal will certainly speed up a royal divorce.
Though royals like to keep things civil when it comes to divorce, when a massive scandal comes into play, the crown allows royals to get out of their marriages swiftly. The queen’s only daughter, Anne, Princess Royal, was granted a speedy divorce from her first husband, Captain Mark Phillips when news broke that he’d fathered a child outside of their marriage.
The princess was allowed to marry her true love, Timothy Laurence that same year, and Phillips was expelled from the princess’ country home Gatcombe Park. As a result of the scandal, his divorce settlement and social status dwindled significantly.
Next: A lifelong grudge
Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson | Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images
- There is a reason why Sarah Ferguson is essentially a royal pariah.
If you cross someone in the House of Windsor, don’t ever expect to receive a seat at the table again. In 1992, after six years of marriage, Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, decided to pull the plug on their relationship. The marriage ended in a whirlwind of topless photos and tabloid scandals.
The duchess was photographed sunbathing topless with John Bryan, an American financial manager. Bryan was also sucking Furgeson’s toes in some of the pictures. Needless to say, the royals were beyond miffed. Though Prince Andrew and Fergie have since reconciled and even live together today as a couple, the royals have not forgotten.
In fact, Fergie is often excluded from royal events (including Prince William and Duchess Kate Middleton’s 2011 wedding). It is said that Prince Philip can’t even be bothered to be around her.
Next: A lifestyle in jeopardy
7. Booted off the civil list
Princess Margaret | Victor Blackman/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
- Princess Margaret was nearly left penniless because of her divorce.
The royals have come a long way regarding how they think about divorce. However, for Princess Margaret who left her husband in the late ’70s, it nearly cost her everything, As a high ranking royal, the princess’ lifestyle was funded by the civil list. It’s a list of folks who receive money from the government.
According to Christopher Warwick’s biography, Princess Margaret: A Life of Contrasts, the late-princess’ divorce nearly got her booted from the list. Though she was able to keep the access to her funds, she was branded a “royal parasite” and treated horribly.
Next: Collecting millions
8. A cash payout
Princess Diana | Vincent Amalvy/AFP/Getty Images
- Royal divorces usually result in million dollar settlements.
Though bad marriages are terrible for everyone, we can’t lie and say that being a royal isn’t without its perks. Though you’re under a microscope, a lavish life filled with opulence and luxury isn’t anything to sneeze at. Therefore when a divorce happens, exiting parties usually leave with pretty hefty cash payouts.
When Sarah Ferguson divorced Prince Andrew in 1992, she was given a lump sum settlement of $3 million pounds. It wasn’t a ton of money, but she’d only been married for six years. In contrast, when Princess Diana and Prince Charles divorced, the late princess was granted about $22.5 million in cash, as well as about $600,000 a year earmarked to maintain her private office.
Next: New love is often tricky
9. Unable to marry again
Prince Louis and Princess Tessy | Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images
- Some royals might opt for an annulment over a divorce.
When Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla Parker Bowles tied the knot in 2005, the pair, who had been previously married to other people, had to say their vows in a civil ceremony. Marrying in the Church of England was not a possibility.
Prince Louis and Princess Tessy of Luxembourg will also face this issue if they ever want to marry again. The pair wed in 2006 and have two children. They announced their divorce in January 2017, the first royal pair to do so in a decade.
However, should they find love elsewhere, it might be hard for them to wed again. The Catholic church does not recognize divorce because it is a civil decree, not a religious one. If they want to wed again, they may have to receive an annulment.
Next: The most legit source of information
10. An announcement from the place
Queen Elizabeth II | Bruno Vincent/Getty Images
- The palace always makes formal announcements about divorces within the royal family.
Queen Elizabeth II has ruled for seven decades, so she’s pretty old school when it comes to things like divorce. However, on December 20, 1995, after seeing that the marriage between Prince Charles and Princess Diana was hopeless, she chose to issue a statement through the place.
It said, “After considering the present situation, the queen wrote to both the prince and princess earlier this week and gave them her view, supported by the Duke of Edinburgh, that an early divorce is desirable. Both Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip will continue to do all they can to help and support the Prince and Princess of Wales, and most particularly their children, in this difficult period.”
Next: An attempt at smoothing things over
11. Statements of regret
Prince Joachim of Denmark and Princess Alexandra | Sean Gallup/Getty Images
- Royals must learn to keep their true emotions hidden, even in the midst of a divorce.
Being a royal means that you have to put on an air of grace and decorum at all times. Even if you can’t wait to be free of your spouse, there is a presumption that the divorce will be handled politely. Unfortunately, this means statements of regrets will be sent to the public.
Prince Joachim of Denmark and his first wife, Alexandra Manley, divorced in 2005 after 10 years of marriage and two children. The pair had to endure not just the pain of separation, but they also had to contend with Queen Margrethe II and her husband Prince Henrik’s public statement saying they “deeply regretted” the divorce.
It looks like the prince and Manley regret nothing because they both went on to marry other people.
Next: The main thing Princess Diana had to give up
12. Giving back the titles
Princess Diana | Daniel Luna/AFP/Getty Images
- After her divorce, Princess Diana was no longer called ‘Her Royal Highness.’
Titles are tricky and they can be left alone or taken away in the event of a divorce. Though Queen Elizabeth wanted to let Princess Diana keep the title of Her Royal Highness after the divorce, Prince Charles was adamant that it would be taken away.
After being stripped of her title, the People’s Princess had to curtsy to anyone who had it, including her children. At the time, 14-year-old Prince William told his mother, “Don’t worry, Mummy, I will give it back to you one day when I am king.”
Next: Assuring the Commonwealth
13. Appeasing the public
Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles at their wedding | Hugo Burnand/Pool/Getty Images
- To get the public to accept his new marriage, Prince Charles had to jump through hoops.
Royals are supposed to be model citizens, therefore just because they are now granted divorces doesn’t mean that they don’t come with various conditions. When Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla Parker Bowles tied the knot in 2005, they had to adhere to certain rules and regulations.
Not only did they have a civil ceremony, Prince Charles’ mother, did not attend. Also, because the prince’s first wife, Princess Diana was so beloved, he had to assure the public that the Duchess of Cornwall would never be queen.
Next: Only the queen can save you
14. A queen’s agreement
Princess Diana | Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
- Princess Diana did not have to give up everything after her divorce because the queen stepped in on her behalf.
If someone leaves the House of Winsor because of a divorce, everything that they’d become accustomed to as a married royal would continue to be accessible only if the queen agrees. When the divorce between Princess Diana and Prince Charles was finalized, the mother of two was granted an apartment at Kensington Palace (where Prince William and Kate Middleton now live), and her jewelry collection (except for the Lover’s Knot tiara).
Because Queen Elizabeth liked her and agreed, she was also granted access to the royal family’s jets and she was able “to use the state apartments at St. James’s Palace for entertaining.
The Duchess of York got none of these privileges.
Next: Modern day marriages
Meghan Markle at the premiere of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire | Andrew Cowie/AFP/Getty Images
- Meghan Markle’s first marriage was a non-issue for the royals.
Since 1936 when King Edward VII gave up his crown for love, or even since 2005, when Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla Parker Bowles married under a long list of conditions, a lot has changed. In fact, because the royals have seen so many divorces, Prince Harry’s marriage to the previously divorced Meghan Markle was really no big deal.
Kim Darroch, Britain’s ambassador to the United States explained, “Times have moved on a lot, and the royal family has moved on with them. The Church has moved on as well and there are a lot of features of modern life that would have been difficult to imagine 50 years ago.”
Follow Aramide Tinubu on Twitter @midnightrami.
Read more: Royal Wedding Traditions Every Bride and Groom Must Follow
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