In her new book, Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life, Sally Bedell Smith writes that Charles didn’t marry Diana because he loved her, but because his father was pressuring him to.
After Charles and Diana had been on their first few dates in 1981, Charles’ father wrote him a letter urging him to either propose to Diana immediately or break up with her to save her reputation since the media was so involved in their courtship, even early on. Charles always felt bullied by his father, so that’s how he interpreted the letter — bullying him into proposing to Diana long before he was ready.
“He wasn’t in love, he wasn’t ready,” Charles’ cousin, Pamela Hicks, who read the letter, told Smith. “He saw it as a ghastly threat. Psychologically he assumed his father bullied him, so he read it as a bullying letter.”
The letter wasn’t bullying — it was “measured and sensitive,” Hicks said. She also said that Charles, who was 32, wasn’t ready to get married, but neither was Diana, who was only 19 at the time. Regardless, they got engaged even though they had only been on a few dates.
The tumultuous relationship between Diana and Charles is getting a lot of attention lately. Smith’s book explores it in depth, and Ryan Murphy’s Feud will feature it in its second season next year.