The Royals' Guide to Divorce
PRINCE CHARLES & PRINCESS DIANA
Perhaps the most famous royal divorce in history (or at least, the last 100 years) was that of the Prince and Princess of Wales, which was finalized in 1995. Their 1981 wedding appeared to be the start of a modern fairy tale, but there were cracks in the relationship from the beginning. For starters, Charles was Diana's senior by 13 years, and the two shared little in the way of interests. And as we know now, Charles still carried a torch for his old girlfriend, the then-Camilla Parker Bowles. Diana famously said of Charles's relationship Camilla, "There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded." Both were unfaithful throughout their 14-year union, but stuck with it because, as Diana said, they "didn't want to disappoint the public." They separated in 1992, and though it wasn't certain if they would ever eventually divorce, after Diana's famous Panorama interview, the Queen wrote to the couple to urge them to do so. Sadly, just two years after their divorce was finalized, Diana was killed in a car crash in Paris in August 1997.
PRINCESS ANNE & MARK PHILLIPS
The same year of Charles and Diana's separation, another royal marriage came to an end. Princess Anne, the Queen's second child, finalized her divorce from her first husband, Captain Mark Phillips, after they separated back in 1989. Initially, the palace said the couple had no plans to divorce, but that attitude quickly changed. Their relationship was said to be lacking in love and little shared time together — and it was revealed that both were unfaithful. Princess Anne recovered quickly from the split: She married her second and current husband, Timothy Laurence, later that year.
PRINCE ANDREW & SARAH FERGUSON
The Queen's third child, Prince Andrew, married Sarah Ferguson, whom he knew from childhood, in July 1986. Their marriage, however, only lasted six years before they separated in 1992. The year was so traumatic for the Queen, who saw three of her children's marriages crumbling, as well as a fire in her home at Windsor Castle, that she famously called it her "annus horribilis" in a speech. Despite the divorce, the two remain close. This past October, Ferguson said in an interview that she and Andrew "have never really left each other."
KING EDWARD VIII & WALLIS SIMPSON
Though this couple never split, they impacted the divorce issue for royals more than anyone since King Henry VIII. King Edward VII ascended the throne in 1936, but reigned for just 11 months before abdicating to marry his American girlfriend, Wallis Simpson. His marriage to Simpson caused a constitutional crisis because Simpson was divorced — and was then seeking a second divorce. Parliament's refusal to accept Simpson as Queen consort led Edward to abdicate. he and Simpson married the next year, and remained together until his death in 1972.
PRINCESS MARGARET & ANTONY ARMSTRONG-JONES
Princess Margaret's romantic history is brimming with divorce-fueled drama. The first came in the early years of her sister Queen Elizabeth's reign, when she wanted to marry the divorced Peter Townsend. After years of back and forth, disapproval from the British Cabinet, waiting, and even a potential plan crafted by the Queen and then-Prime Minister Anthony Eden, Margaret announced the two would not marry. She did marry eventually, in 1960, to Antony Armstrong-Jones, a photographer, in the first-ever televised royal wedding. Though they had two children and lived a glamorous life, socializing with celebrities, through much of the '60s, by the '70s their marriage was in a fragile state amid infidelity on both sides. After notorious photos surfaced of Margaret with a man 17 years her junior, Roddy Llewellyn, in their bathing suits on the island of Mustique, her marriage to Armstrong-Jones began to publicly crumble. They were divorced by 1978, but it wasn't without controversy. It was the first divorce for a senior member of the royal family since 1901 (Princess Victoria of Edinburgh). According to Christopher Warwick's biography, Princess Margaret: A Life of Contrasts, she nearly lost her place on the civil list — people who receive money from the government, like many royals — and members of parliament branded her a "royal parasite." She never married again.
PETER AND AUTUMN PHILLIPS
Queen Elizabeth's eldest grandson Peter Phillips and his wife Autumn met in 2003 in her hometown of Montreal at the Formula One Grand Prix before they wed at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle in 2008. In February, they announced they were divorcing after 12 years of marriage, deciding it was "the best course of action" for their two daughters Savannah, 9, and Isla, 7, and their "friendship." Princess Anne’s son, 42, is the first of his generation of royals to separate from his spouse, adding yet another sad episode for the Queen in recent months.
PRINCE LOUIS AND PRINCESS TESSY OF LUXEMBOURG
In January 2017, Prince Louis and Princess Tessy of Luxembourg became the first royal couple in 10 years to announce their divorce. They married in September 2006 after welcoming their first son in March 2006. Their second son was born in September 2007. Though they are divorcing, a future marriage — at least in the eyes of the Catholic church — could prove difficult. A divorce is a civil decree, not a religious one, and the church would have to grant an annullment.
PRINCE JOACHIM & PRINCESS ALEXANDRA OF DENMARK
The second son of Denmark's Queen Margrethe II, Prince Joachim married his first wife, Alexandra, in 1995. They were married for nearly 10 years and had two sons before announcing their intention to divorce in September 2004. In a statement, Margrethe and her husband, Prince Henrik, said they "deeply regretted" the divorce. It was the first for the Danish royal family for 150 years.
DAVID AND SERENA ARMSTRONG-JONES
The son of the late Princess Margaret and the nephew of Queen Elizabeth, David Armstrong-Jones and his wife Serena announced their split in February, after 25 years of marriage. “The Earl and Countess of Snowdon have amicably agreed that their marriage has come to an end and that they shall be divorced,” a spokesperson for the couple said in a statement. David inherited the title of Earl of Snowdon following the 2017 death of his father, photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones. The pair are parents to Viscount Linley, Charles Armstrong-Jones, and Lady Margarita Armstrong-Jones. Their split came shortly after the news of another split: Peter and Autumn Phillips.
PRINCESS CAROLINE OF MONACO & PHILIPPE JUNOT
Princess Grace and Prince Rainier's eldest daughter has been married three times, but just one has ended in divorce. That was her first marriage, to Philippe Junot, whom she married when she was 21. The union only lasted two years, and they divorced in 1980. The Catholic Church annulled the union in 1992 in order to legitimize the three children Caroline had with her second husband, Stefano Casiraghi, whom she married in 1983. Sadly, Casiraghi was killed in a speed boat accident in October 1990. Since 1999, she has been married to Prince Ernst August on Hanover, though they separated in 2009 and essentially live separate lives. (And Ernst isn't shy about flaunting his relationships with other women.)
PRINCESS STÉPHANIE OF MONACO & DANIEL DUCRUET (& ADANS LOPEZ PERES)
Caroline's younger sister, Monaco's Princess Stéphanie, has been divorced twice, both after very brief marriages. She married her bodyguard, Daniel Ducruet, pictured here, in 1995, after they had two children together. They divorced a little more than a year later. Her second marriage came in 2003, to acrobat Adans Lopez Peres. They divorced in 2004.
KING HENRY VIII & KATHERINE OF ARAGON
Theirs was the original royal divorce: King Henry VIII famously split with the Catholic church in 1534 in order to divorce the first of his six wives, Katherine of Aragon, who had not become pregnant with a male heir throughout their marriage. After the Pope denied Henry's request for a divorce, the monarch established his own Church of England and changed the course of world history.