For Diana, the 26-year-old Princess of Wales, it was a year of living dangerously. For the first time, she strained visibly at the leash of permissible royal conduct with a series of public marital mini-rebellions that had the world wondering if her love connection to Prince Charles, 39, had come undone. Many of the infractions were trivial—such as sitting on the hood of her husband’s beloved Aston Martin—but others were not. The princess invented last-minute commitments to avoid dinners with Charles and his circle of older friends and flirted openly with attractive, young male companions. The couple spent unprecedented time apart without bothering to write. There were few public displays of affection between them, and rumors abounded of tears, tantrums and extramarital tête-à-têtes.
As far as we know, Diana hasn’t sought professional help. Perhaps she should. So with tongue in cheek and a tip of the hat to the Ladies’ Home Journal’s feature, we offer our fantasy version of: Can This Marriage—and Monarchy—Be Saved?
“I’m sick and tired of taking all the blame,” said the princess, a trim bottle blond. “If he’s not off playing polo, he’s going on about the roses in his organic garden. What happened to that Prince Charming I married? All right, so he did make me kiss his signet ring on the first date. But he was witty, sophisticated and respected by everyone. He must have been; they all called him ‘Sir.’ I mean, I was so in love that I never even noticed his ears until later.
“I suppose I had a fairy-tale vision of marriage. I thought it would be castles, servants and horse-drawn carriages forever. The problem is, it is. And Chuck seems so much older to me now, especially when I see his brother and my sister-in-law having such fun. He won’t dance; I don’t ask him. He hates my friends; he says they’re all mindless twits. Well, at least my friends have their own teeth. He’d rather hang around with geriatric types who date back to the Boer War and want to carry on about the meaning of life. Bore War is more like it. That’s one they’d win in a walk.
“You want to know what I think? I think Chuck is jealous of all the attention I get. When was the last time anyone tried to get a picture of him crossing his legs? We don’t discuss anything anymore except the children. He yawns when I talk to him, and he’s always wanting to bolt off to Scotland to meditate. I should be grateful he does, I suppose, because when he’s around Highgrove, our country house, he’s always mucking about in the garden. He’s absolutely head-over-heels for organic fertilizer, you know—just stand downwind of him sometime. Really, I think he rolls in the stuff. Those stains are murder to get out.
“I want this marriage to work. We’ve got two lovely children, a house in the country and a nice place in town, and you have to admit, Chuck does make a living. But I need to hear him say that he loves me and not just in front of the reporter from the Daily Mirror. I have to know that Chuck married me for love, not just because he needed an heir and I was the best-looking titled virgin around. I won’t spend my life being anyone’s brood mare.”
“This isn’t easy for me to talk about,” said Chuck, a pink-cheeked, craggy-faced fellow with an important title in a family-run business. “I’d dated a great number of women, but Diana was different. She didn’t know a thing. Her innocence was refreshing, I thought. Then I realized she just wasn’t interested. Loved fashion and rock ‘n’ roll, of course. But she couldn’t care less about fertilizer. And matters have gone from bad to worse since my sister-in-law, Sarah—can’t bear to call her Fergie; makes her sound like a collie—introduced my wife to a whole new circle of rich young layabouts. Diana must remember that she’s going to be Queen one day. I mean, could you imagine Mummy gadding about jabbing people in the bum with her umbrella? She could if she wanted to, of course—after all, she is the Queen—but it’s just not the sort of thing that one does.
“I don’t want to sound as if I’m feeling sorry for myself, but it’s not easy sitting around waiting to be King. No one ever asks anymore what I want to be when I grow up, and at this point it’s too late to say, “Fireman.” I spend my days either listening to Diana whine for attention—although she has given up asking me to dance, thank God—or else I’m off eating funny food and wearing a tribal headdress in some godforsaken place that used to be part of the empire. That’s why I sneak off to Scotland whenever I have the opportunity. I need the time alone. But try telling that to Diana. She just hoots and hollers. She especially resents spending vacations at Balmoral with my family. She says playing Clue at night with my mother and Johnny on the Pony with Anne is not her idea of a hot time. But no way, José, that I’m going off to Club Med to play hide the coconuts.”
The counselor’s turn:
“Diana and Chuck have to understand that they are not ordinary people. Ordinary people are not this dim. What we have here is a failure to communicate. They are torn, it seems, between marriage and the monarchy, and Chuck spends more time talking to his plants than to Diana. Perhaps she should try dressing up as a philodendron sometime when he comes in from a hard afternoon in the potting soil. Otherwise my advice to this couple is to see their clergyman—the Archbishop of Canterbury should do very nicely—or invest in the complete works of Leo Buscaglia. Can Diana and Chuck work things out? If Henry VIII solved his problems, they can solve theirs.”