With the news of Queen Elizabeth’s death at the age of 96 on Thursday, the sad demise of Princess Diana struck many in the minds of many.
“I want to be the queen of the hearts of the people, but I don’t see myself as the queen of this country,” Princess Diana told journalist Martin Bashir in her famous 1995 TV interview.
Even though she had been formally separated from her husband for almost three years by then, it was a blast that rocked the entire nation. And it was a prediction that turned out to be correct.
When Diana and Prince Charles divorced eight months later, the princess relinquished her right to be the next Queen of England. She also had to be given the title of “HRH” (Her Royal Highness). After the divorce, it was agreed that her new title would be Diana, Princess of Wales.
Although the Queen was prepared to keep Diana HRH, according to reports, Prince Charles insisted that she leave it. The loss officially left Diana with an HRH bound to curse for others – including her ex-husband and even her own children, Prince William and Prince Harry.
Whether this rule was enforced or not is unknown. At the time of the divorce, the palace said in secret that Princess Diana “will continue to be treated as a member of the Royal Family.”
But would the death of Queen Elizabeth affect Diana’s title if the princess had not died in a car accident in 1997?
“She would have kept her title of Princess of Wales, as it was part of the original divorce agreement,” Dr Robert Morris, constitutional expert at University College London’s Constitution Unit, told The Post. If the princess had remarried, she would have lost her title and most likely went back as Lady Diana.
According to Diana’s butler Paul Burrell, when Diana lost her HRH, a 14-year-old Prince William told his troubled mother: “Don’t worry, Mom, I’ll give it back to you one day when I become king.”
In fact, some believe that Diana would have been eligible for the title of “Queen Mother” if she were alive when she did. But her eligibility would have been complicated by divorce, as well as the title Queen Mother, which also means “‘widowed queen consort”, which Queen Elizabeth’s mother – the widow of King George VI – bore, did not apply to Diana.
However, as king, William would have the power to bend the rules, so chances are high that he wanted to celebrate his mother’s status in some meaningful way.
And that’s not likely to change anything for Charles’ current wife, Camilla.
When the two married in 2005, Buckingham Palace announced that Camilla would become HRH The Princess Consort after Charles ascended the throne, a move that was considered out of respect for Diana. However, in February 2022, the Queen reversed the decision, stating to Camilla her desire to become Queen Consort, meaning that Camilla would take the title of Queen Camilla.
Royal writer Stewart Pearce, her close friend in Diana’s final years, believes Diana may have blessed her. “I’m sure Diana would be in full support of this … She would have lived for 26 years with the idea of separation.”