WHEN she first met her future husband, Diana Spencer was a shy 19-year-old with little experience of life.
Within 10 months she was walking down the aisle with Prince Charles, then 32, in the most high profile wedding of all time, with the eyes of the world upon her.
With the fourth series of The Crown focussing on the couple’s romance and the subsequent breakdown of their marriage, there’s renewed interest in what went on behind the closed doors of Kensington Palace.
Now dating expert Karen Mooney, who once worked in the Royal household, says Prince Charles and Princess Diana were a match made in hell – and were never going to work.
“The marriage was doomed from the start,” she exclusively tells the Sun.
“They had nothing in common. She was in awe of him and he was the Prince of Wales. It was a bit like a fairy tale for her. But, of course, it ended up being completely the reverse.”
But Karen is keen to point out Prince Charles was not the villain of the piece but a victim of circumstance.
“Charles was desperately unhappy with the situation too,” she says.
“Obviously, he was in love with Camilla Parker-Bowles at the time but he was the next in line to the throne, so he had to find somebody to bear his heirs and he did what was expected of him.
“It’s terribly sad. Hopefully, the Royal family has now evolved and realised that people have to marry for love.”
Whirlwind romance moved too fast
The whirlwind romance of Prince Charles and the teenage Diana Spencer captured the imagination of the nation.
The sweet-natured nursery school teacher and the heir to the throne first met when she was 16 and Charles was dating her older sister Sarah, in 1977.
Three years later when both romance blossomed after they were both invited to stay at Philip de Pass’s house in Sussex.
With Charles under pressure to marry someone who could provide an heir to the throne, things moved fast, with an engagement announced in February 1981.
“From the first date to him proposing was five months and they were married after 10 months,” says Karen, founder of one of the UK’s leading introductions agency, Sara Eden, and former head of civilian staff at the Palace’s protection unit.
“They didn’t know each other and at 19 you don’t know your mind. They had nothing in common and as time went by, that really showed.”
‘Needy’ Di desperate for love
Brought up by a father who epitomised the British stiff upper lip, Prince Charles wasn’t one to gush with emotion.
But Diana, whose own parents’ divorce had left her deeply unhappy, was desperate for love.
“She was very warm, slightly childlike,” says Karen. “She needed to be needy. She needed to be liked and she wanted him to love her.
“He was a lot colder because he had been brought up as a royal, with nannies and governesses.”
Age gap and intellect gap
At 32, Charles was 13 years Diana’s senior – a factor which Karen believes played a huge part in their incompatibility.
“The age was a massive issue,” says Karen.
“When you’re older and have a 13-year age gap it is not too bad. But when you’re 19 and 32, going on 33, that’s a huge age gap. You have no shared memories or experience, if you talk about the past.
“She was a very naive, unworldly 19-year-old. He’d been to Cambridge and was obviously very intellectual.
“But he was the Prince of Wales and all of a sudden he was paying her attention so she was flattered. But they had absolutely nothing in common.”
Jealousy over ‘People’s Princess’
Thrust into the spotlight, “Shy Di” struggled to fit into royal life and that would have taken its toll on the marriage.
“She had a very unhappy childhood then all of a sudden, she’s walled up at Clarence House and then Kensington palace and she’d taken on this massive role as the Princess of Wales,” says Karen.
“It must have been hard for her to suddenly have to live with a family that she didn’t really know.
“I don’t think anyone expected Diana to be loved as much as she was, and for her to have such power in the end, because she became the ‘People’s Princess’, and people adored her.
“I think there’s probably a little bit of jealousy there as well. It was a very toxic relationship in the end, which was very, very sad for William and Harry.”
The marriage finally broke down after the birth of Prince Harry, in 1984, and Diana later claimed that Charles had resumed his romance with Camilla Parker-Bowles. The Prince and Princess of Wales divorced in 1996.
After being banned from marrying Camilla by the royal family, forcing both into unhappy marriages, Charles has now found happiness with his first love.
“I think they’re incredibly well matched,” says Karen.
“They’ve got history and obviously know each other very well. They’ve loved each other for a very, very long time.
“At least he’s happy now. When people are forced into situations or relationships that they don’t really want to be in it makes them very unhappy.
The Crown is ‘fiction not fact’
The Crown has been criticised for its portrayal of the Royal family and particularly Prince Charles, who is seen ranting and raving at a fragile Diana as their marriage falls apart.
Dickie Arbiter, the Queen’s former press secretary, told the BBC: “It’s a hatchet job on Prince Charles and a bit of a hatchet job on Diana.”
He added: “It’s just sensationalising, making Charles and Camilla out to be the villains. Charles is portrayed as vicious. He’s not vicious.”
Culture secretary Oliver Dowden has called for a disclaimer on each episode, flagging that it is fiction.
“I fear a generation of viewers who did not live through these events may mistake fiction for fact,” he said.
Although the marriage was obviously unhappy, Karen also believes The Crown’s version of events should be taken with a large pinch of salt.
“You have to remember that this is a drama, it’s not a documentary,” she says.
“It’s going along the lines of what happened, but nobody knows exactly what went on behind closed doors and what the relationship was truly like so I don’t believe it’s a true representation of the marriage.”