How Princess Diana overshadowed Charles during their marriage

History repeating itself? As picture-perfect Kate risks ‘stealing the limelight’ from the King, how Princess Diana overshadowed Charles during their marriage (and even after their divorce!)

  • Princess Diana’s star shone brightly during, and after her marriage to Charles
  • READ MORE: Princess Diana believed ‘Charles wasn’t cut out to be King’ and was ‘stuck in a rut’ after their divorce, royal expert claims

As royal insiders express concern that the Princess of Wales risks overshadowing King Charles with her glossy solo appearances in recent weeks and months, a familiar pattern may be resurfacing.

During his life in the public eye, Charles has been the victim of upstaging on several occasions, most notably during his marriage to Princess Diana. 

Early on in their 15-year marriage, it became clear that the young Diana was the rising star in the royal family, with royal fans queueing for hours to see her over the heir to the throne, Charles, on their joint engagements.

So popular was Diana that, during the couple’s first joint royal tour of Wales after becoming the Prince and Princess of Wales, Charles even admitted to crowds of adoring fans that his wife was the person they had come to see.

Throughout their marriage, Diana continued to steal the limelight from Charles as she shone in the public eye with her keen eye for fashion, striking beauty and her deep compassion for others.

As reports emerge that royal insiders have expressed concern that the Princess of Wales risks overshadowing the King with her glossy solo appearances (pictured at the Chelsea Flower Show on Monday), FEMAIL looks back on Charles and Diana’s marriage as the late Diana stole the limelight from her husband

After millions around the world tuned in to watch the wedding of Charles and Diana, the couple took their first trip to Wales as a married couple in October 1981.

While many people around the world were mesmerised by the young Lady Diana on her wedding day, this trip is widely recognised as the first time the then-Princess of Wales won over the British public as she shone while her husband stood in her shadow.

Throughout the visit, royal fans were keen to meet the newlyweds – but had a particular fondness for Diana. As the couple visited people in communities with high unemployment and new mothers on maternity units, members of the public were struck by Diana.

Archive footage of the visit shows the couple being greeted by crowds, who can be heard chanting: ‘We want Princess Di!’ 

The Princess’s popularity was so stark, it even prompted Charles to tell some royal fans: ‘There’s the person you’ve come to see,’ ITV reports.

Princess Diana’s notorious revenge dress, designed by Christina Stambolian, was debuted at the Vanity Fair party at the Serpentine Gallery in London in 1994, the same night King Charles appeared on national television and admitted he had had an affair

Princess Diana’s star first began to shine brighter than her husband’s on their first joint trip to Wales after their marriage, in October 1981, where royal fans were much more keen to meet the Princess of Wales than her husband 

At the time, the royal couple were still blissfully happy and, while Charles acknowledged his new wife’s outstanding popularity, he seemed unthreatened by it.

The royal tour concluded at Cardiff City Hall where Diana delivered a speech to the people of Wales as she received the Freedom of the City (which Charles had received himself 11 years earlier).

Addressing the attendees first in English, Diana spoke of her gratitude at receiving the Freedom Scroll. 

She continued: ‘I’d like to try to express my thanks to you in Welsh, also.’

After repeating her thanks in Welsh, Diana received a standing ovation from the Lord Mayor, her new husband and all those in attendance at City Hall. 

As Diana concluded her speech, she paid tribute to the Welsh people, who were ‘very special’ to her.

At the time, Diana’s engagement was hailed a ‘triumph’ by the press, as she cemented herself as a hugely popular figure in the public eye.

Two years later, the royal couple travelled across the world to visit Australia and New Zealand for the first time in a joint engagement.

Once again, Diana’s star shone brighter than her husband’s, as royal fans were desperate to catch a glimpse of the Princess over Charles.

In fact, the contrast in popularity was so stark, it was dramatised in an episode in series four of The Crown, where Josh O’Connor’s Charles shouts: This was supposed to be my tour!’ at Emma Corrin’s Diana.

As a fictional depiction of real-life events, it is a scene that exaggerates the tensions between the pair. However the angry exchange is derived from an obvious wedge that had been driven between the couple during the 1983 visit, which may have been down to Diana’s soaring popularity.

The 40-day tour of Australia and New Zealand took place against an already tense background, as the royal visit clashed with a growing republican movement across Australia and serious calls were being voiced for the nation to leave the Commonwealth. There were also concerns about new mother Diana taking Prince William with her, as she did not want to be separated.

Despite a few early setbacks on the couple’s royal tour of Australia in 1983, two years after they married, the Princess of Wales was lauded by local press for her professionality and popularity amid a wave of republicanism sweeping the nation

Despite no longer being married into the royal family, Diana’s star continued to shine as she won the hearts of the British public (pictured in 1995 meeting royal fans)

However, aside from a few awkward moments upon arrival, Princess Diana was once again lauded by the local press during the tour, which saw the couple span 30,000 miles.

The Sydney Morning Herald said of Diana: ‘Despite the predictions, Diana, apart from some strain and tiredness, has fared well. She might be made of tougher stuff than many think.’

And as the tour continued it became clear that Princess Diana was the star of the show, with Charles walking in her shadow.

A news report from ABC at the time noted how communities in the Riverland had ‘come to see’ Diana – while also noting her professionality.

The broadcaster said: ‘The Princess seemed more anxious to meet the people than did her husband. She dispensed tidbits concerning Prince William’s health, the weather, and jokingly inquired of an elderly citizen if she had any whiskey in her picnic baske,’ as reported by Vogue.

Clips from the trip showed adoring fans holding up signs for Princess Diana, calling her ‘beautiful’. 

Cracks soon began to appear in Charles and Diana’s marriage, with the Prime Minister John Major announcing their divorce in the House of Commons in December 1992.

For several years the marriage had been blighted by rumours of an affair between King Charles and now-Queen Camilla. While the rumours had swirled for years, King Charles did not admit the affair until after he and Diana had separated. He admitted his infidelity on national television on June 24, 1994, in an interview with Jonathan Dimbleby.

But even then, the eyes of the nation were on Princess Diana, who stole the limelight with her now-notorious revenge dress.

Stepping out at the Serpentine Gallery in London to attend a Vanity Fair party, Diana donned a figure hugging, off-shoulder black frock designed by Christina Stambolian in a last-minute deviation from the Valentino dress she had planned to wear.

Her look was so breathtaking it cemented her place in newspapers the following day, stealing headlines that Charles had hoped to dominate with his tell-all interview in which he shared his side of the story over the breakdown of his marriage.

Following the couple’s separation, Princess Diana’s popularity remained high among members of the public, who still gathered in swathes to meet her during appearances where she carried out charity work following her divorce.

Up until Diana’s tragic death in 1997 in a car crash, she remained popular, with her death itself prompting an outpouring of grief from an adoring British public, who lined the streets to pay their respects during her funeral procession. 

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