Princess Diana and Meghan were innocents who discovered being a princess is no fairytale – Helen Martin

Little girls who love fairy stories and classic tales might well fantasise of marrying a Prince and becoming a Princess. They’re inspired by Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and more.

Monday, 15th March 2021, 7:00 am
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle ride in an Ascot Landau after their wedding ceremony at St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle (Picture: Paul Ellis/PA)

Most young women who have absorbed some history and reality, and learned even a fraction of how the Royal Family operates, no longer dream of a Prince.

A royal life is tough, not something that allows freedom, independence, personal decisions or political opinions. It’s not just a family, it’s known as the “Firm” with discipline and strict compliance. It’s not possible to blame them or the women who don’t understand what they are marrying into.

Prince Charles’s first love was Lucia Santa Cruz, the daughter of the Chilean ambassador to Britain. They met in 1969 when he was 21. Marriage might have been on the cards but, while much of the UK sympathised with him, that was forbidden because, as the heir to the throne, he wasn’t allowed to marry a Catholic.

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They stayed close friends and funnily enough, Lucia introduced him to Camilla Shand in 1972, his second love. But then she married Andrew Parker-Bowles.

By 1981 and aged 33, Charles was under pressure to marry someone as he had to produce heirs. It had to be an innocent “Miss”, ideally an aristocrat, not a divorcee, not someone who had any “reputation”. Diana, aged just 19, was selected.

At their engagement interview, there was a slightly awkward moment when they were asked if they were in love. Diana said “Of course”. Charles smiled, and mumbled “Whatever ‘in love’ means.”

Diana, Princess of Wales, pictured in 1987 (Picture: Shields Gazette)

No-one can really blame Charles or Diana. It was a royal process. Poor Diana hadn’t had an easy family life. Her parents had separated, her father had custody of her, and had a new partner. Diana wasn’t an academic, she’d been through some stress, but still at such a young age, she still seemed to believe she was almost in a “fairy tale”. She was extremely naïve.

Meghan Markle seems to have been another who thought marrying a royal prince was some sort of celebrity status, supreme wealth and individual success. Oprah Winfrey’s early question was, had Meghan researched or learned about Royal family life? Meghan said no, she hadn’t. She didn’t even know she was to curtsy to the Queen, let alone do precisely what she was told as part of the “Firm’s” duty.

Someone asking what colour her and Harry’s baby’s skin might be was assessed by Meghan as racism. It may just have been curiosity of someone in an insular, unique and rare family.

It’s pretty obvious that Kate, partnered with Will at university, learned from her parents and Will, and possibly researched all about her royal future, becoming committed to carrying out her royal “job” and complying to make herself a perfect Prince’s, or eventual King’s, wife and mother to heirs.

Diana and Meghan were innocently delusional. Harry is the unlikely sixth heir following Charles, Will, George, Charlotte, and Louis, hence he can go to the US and live a “normal” but celebrity life which should suit Meghan. I don’t really think anyone is to blame.

The Queen is 94, Prince Phillip is 99, Charles is 73. If the monarchy ends, or is at least modernised, conflicts and rows like this won’t happen again.

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