When Diana and Prince Charles officially divorced in 1996, they’d already been separated for four years.
And according to the late Princess of Wales’ former butler, it would have remained like that had the Queen not intervened and ordered the couple to formally divorce.
Speaking at an event on the Gold Coast yesterday, Paul Burrell claims that Queen Elizabeth sent Diana an uncharacteristically cold letter instructing her to divorce her son.
“It is a myth the princess wanted a divorce,” Burrell says, according to 9Honey, “She didn’t want a divorce, she wanted a separation.”
He recounts that one day, “The princess called me up to her room and she said, ‘You should see this. Look at this’.
“And it was a letter with the royal crest of Windsor Castle… It was in the Queen’s hand and her writing was: ‘I have consulted with the Archbishop of Canterbury and with the Prime Minister and, of course, with Charles and we have decided that the best course for you is divorce’.”
Diana’s reaction, he says, was “That’s rich! They get to decide whether I divorce”, and from that moment she felt as though her fate was out of her hands.
While on the surface there doesn’t seem to be much of a difference between a separation and a divorce, the mum-of-two was trying to avoid the latter for the sake of her children after her parents divorced when she was very young.
There was also the matter of her royal title, which she fought to keep during her divorce proceedings because having it taken away would mean she would lose all formal connection with the royal family, and would have to curtsy to her ex-husband and sons.
Unfortunately for Diana, she lost that battle, and confided in 14-year-old William at the time.
According to Paul, Wills tried to comfort his mum by making a beautiful promise to restore her title when he becomes king. Sadly, he will never be able to come good on that promise, with his mum tragically dying in a car accident a year later.