England's Prime Minister John Major announced on 9th December 1992:
"Buckingham Palace has made it known that the Prince and Princess of Wales will separate. Their Royal Highnesses are not seeking a divorce. Their position in the constitution remains the same. This decision has been agreed by both parties, the care of the children will continue to be shared by both."
They were only a few words, spoken quietly. But they were enough to set all the nation into shock. so it was now official, what every newspaper reader, every television viewer had long guessed. In spite of this the knowledge was still a shock. The romance of Diana and Charles existed no longer. Over and done with! The pair had actually been on a state visit to Korea in November. All an act! And suddenly everyone remembered that no common ground was to be recognised on the photos any more. Charles and Diana couldn't even look at each other in the eyes any more. What must have been running through their minds? Today one knows that this state visit must have been a true nightmare. As the official separation resulted in hard wrangling between the lawyers, without speaking of the emotional injuries. All parties realised that the public would take the separation of Charles and Diana very badly. To whom would the most sympathies lie? Who would the guilt for the breakup of the marriage be pushed on to? Would the nation separate into two separate camps?
Naturally the Royal Family was keen to set Charles in the best possible light.
And surprisingly only five months before Major's announcement recorded telephone conversations turned up with the most explosive contents. Whispers of love between a man called James Gilbey and Diana! It was the infamous "Octopus Conversation".
I don't want to get pregnant.
Darling, that won't happen, OK?
You can't think like that. Nothing will happen, darling. You won't get pregnant.
I watched East Enders today. One of the actresses had had a baby. She thought it was her husband's.
It was another man's.
My octopus, kiss me. O God. Is this feeling not wonderful? Do you like it too?
Yes, a lot.
This telephone conversation had already happened in 1989. Amateur funk radio listeners were supposed to have secretly listened to it and then sold it to newspapers two years later. Or was it the secret ? The timing of the exposure makes one think. As Diana then appeared guilty for the break-up of her marriage. But what really happened then, in 1989? Did the Princess of Wales have a relationship? And who is this James Gilbey? The pair certainly knew each other and were friends with one-another. He was Diana's confidant during difficult married years. Diana later admitted to have led this listened to and publicised telephone call. But this was far from a marriage-breaking relationship. The press scandal was perfect.
Yet Charles and his people were not allowed to celebrate early. Amateur radio listeners not only listened in to her calls, but also those of her husband. And now for the first time it really got embarrassing: The Prince of Wales was recorded during a highly erotic telephone conversation to his long-time mistress Camilla!
He said that he would most like to turn into a tampon, so that he could always be with her. Laughter was able to be heard the whole world over. It is interesting that this conversation had also been held in 1989, and was also publicised in the year of the separation. Coincidence?
Obviously the Palace had no concept yet of how it could limit the damage, or how Diana came through all the scandles and sensational stories amazingly unscathed - apart from through gradual exclusion. In fact Diana completed a few official visits alone in 1993. She was in Zimbabwe for four days in order to visit charity groups out there, and in the summer she went to Bergen-Hohne (Germany) as the Honourary Group Captain of the Home Regiment of the Light Dragoons. She appeared decisive about wanting to make something out of the separation. She was strengthened by still being in the centre of public interest.
For outsiders it is difficult to imagine how something like this could work: to live two lives - one official and one private. But through a more exact observation one can see that the pair had been doing exactly that for some time. Finally at the beginning of August the last chance for a reconcilement was arranged.
The separated pair met in London's St. James Palace and discussed the possibilities for an arrangement, or a reconcilliation. One of Diana's most important demands is said to have been that Charles must avoid any further contact with Camilla. The meeting passed without success.On 3rd December 1993 the obviously pained Diana announced in her speech at a charity event in London that she would withdraw from public life and above all dedicate herself to raising her sons. The emotional speech stirred the whole nation and sympathisers of Diana the whole world over. The Queen had feared exactly that and had therefore tried to stop the daughter-in-law from taking the dramatic step in public.
Behind the backdrop a new role for Diana was feverishly being searched for.
In April 1994 Diana was named as the Special Ambassador of the British Red Cross and the right path was being taken, however yet again a good starting point was torpedoed through others' intentions. In August 1994 terrible accusations were hurled at Diana, she had supposedly made nuisance phone calls to Oliver Hoare, a common friend of her and Charles. Desperately she armed herself and informed the press that she could not have made the phone calls as she had not been present at the time of the calls. She accused Prince Charles' advisors of plotting against her. It did indeed emerge that Diana had not made the calls.
Charles' advisors advised him to talk openly in order to improve his miserable public image. In June 1994 the Prince acknowledged in a television interview that after five years of investing in the stability and to save his marriage this broke up, as he had given up. Once again his already low popularity level sank even lower, the media turned into the laundry room for the Royals' dirty washing.
As the media grew to be even more on the side of the betrayed Diana and idolised the ever more beautiful, ever more excitingly dressed woman, the sensational book "Princess in Love" appeared in the USA. The author was James Hewitt. In the book Diana's former bodyguard and sons' riding instructor stated that for five years he had been not only the confidant, but also Diana's lover. By doing so he broke the code of not exposing the palace through the writing of personal memoirs: Diana had been supposedly desperate, hungry for love and insatiable at that. Every man at Diana's side finished as her lover. She was accused of being a marriage breaker. She moved from one alleged sex scandal to the next. Diana's nerves lay blank.
The shock for the public was large, puzzling advice about the truth or deception. At the palace they read the alleged scandalous stories with mixed feelings, they hoped ever more for a reconciliation between the pair, at least for a limitation of the damage. In a cautious statement from the palace Charles and Diana both announced together that they were neither discussing a divorce nor a financial settlement. The last installment of the investigative novel followed exactly one year later, in November 1995. On the wedding anniversary of Elizabeth II and Prince Philip the BBC broadcast the interview wit Diana, in which the Princess admitted the affair with Hewitt, she said she had been lonely, the marriage had made her sick and in need of loving care - and she had been a little in love, had however been disappointed. She declared that she was not interested in a divorce and could imagine a role for herself as in the completely unique role of "Ambassador of the Heart" for the interests of the nation. Four days later the nation who had seen the suffering Diana on the television judged wit ha majority of 56 percent that the deeply injured Princess deserved sympathy. Only nine percent voted in the questionnaire in favour of the obviously guilty Charles.
The Queen again had to limit the damage of this to the monarchy and still in November she undertook talks with Prime Minister Major in order to discuss the future role of the unbroken, attractive and still socially engaged Diana. In order to end the unbearable public speculation and accusations the Queen ordered, in two separate letters, Charles and Diana to get divorced.
On 28th February 1996 Diana had to agree to a divorce.
On 15th July 1996 the divorce was presented before the High Court.
On 28th August at 10.27 am the marriage was annulled.
20 pounds for administration costs were to be paid.