“In sickness and in health” and “until death do us part” are two phrases that, in the past, were used with strength and conviction to strengthen the loving bond between two people after marriage. Nowadays, that nightmare called divorce is more common than we imagine and reached the British royalty.
In November 1947, Elizabeth married Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, to whom just a few days before the wedding, King George VI – Philip’s father-in-law – granted the noble title of Duke of Edinburgh, convinced that this union would be indissoluble. And so it was. Until his death in April 2021, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip of Edinburgh were married.
However, during the 74 years of what is considered “the Crown’s favorite marriage”, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip witnessed serious romantic breakups in their family circle. At Independent en español, we share a count of the most notable separations:
Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones
One of the first romantic breakups of the British Crown was that of Princess Margaret of England who, at 22, fell in love with a divorced captain named Peter Townsend, but her parents opposed and the couple had to separate.
When Elizabeth ascended the throne, she tried to marry her younger sister to one of the country’s princes, but was unsuccessful. Princess Margaret fell in love with the photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones, a love that was tried to be sabotaged but the marriage was consummated on May 6, 1960.
Love didn’t last long, despite Queen Elizabeth II granting them noble titles, as in 1978 Princess Margaret and Antony separated. He was seen in those years in the company of attractive women; while she had an affair with a gardener 17 years younger.
Princess Anne and Mark Phillips
The divorce of Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips was one of the most painful separations of the British Crown, as after 16 years of marriage, it ended due to a crisis involving a third party.
According to stories of the nobility, in the early 1970s, there were news circulating about the strengthening of the relationship between Princess Anne and the then Captain Mark Phillips, who were completely in love. The Queen Mother supported the union and they married in 1973, although the relationship between Mark and his mother-in-law did not start well, as the groom did not want to accept a noble title before the big event.
Mark did not like the royal family, but he had two children with Princess Anne: Peter and Zara Phillips. Only in 1989, when it was spread the news that the royal lady wrote love letters with another captain named Timothy Laurence, which caused the divorce of the couple in 1992. The following year, in 1993, Princess Anne and Laurence married and, to this day, they are still together.
Princess Diana and Prince Charles
In 1992, the separation of Prince Charles – who was heir to the British Crown – and Diana, Princess of Wales was announced. That same year, Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson also announced their divorce. The separations took effect until 1996, with just a few months apart.
The failure of the marriage between Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson – who became Duchess of York – did not surprise anyone. The British Crown and the world press labeled her as a “common woman” who did not follow the protocol of royalty; some called her “vulgar”. Years later, the media would reinforce the theory of a supposed romance between Ferguson and a wealthy American named Steve Wyatt.
As for Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales, one of the most emphatic versions suggests that when Queen Elizabeth II’s son married ‘Lady Di’ in 1981, he was not really in love with her, but with his mistress Camilla Parker. This would have caused friction in a relationship tormented by lies, infidelities, and a tragic ending.
It was not until 1996 that Diana, Princess of Wales, announced her divorce settlement and began an independent life of the British Crown, which many considered to have angered Queen Elizabeth II. In an interview with the BBC, ‘Lady Di’ spoke about extramarital affairs, stating that “there were three of us in that marriage.” She also revealed that she suffered from depression, uncontrolled bulimia, and self-mutilation, caused by the breakup.
Diana, Princess of Wales and Prince Charles had two children, William and Henry; and the honorable ‘Lady Di’ died in a controversial car accident in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel in Paris, France. In the car were her then-partner Dodi Al-Fayed and the driver of the car, Henri Paul.