King Charles gazing in front

7 traumas and tragedies that have shaped King Charles’ life – from Diana’s death to Harry’s estrangement and his cancer diagnosis

The monarch has been through a lot

King Charles’ life has unfolded in front of our very eyes and it’s fair to say he has suffered a fair number of traumas and tragedies, including his recent cancer diagnosis.

Here’s everything he’s had to endure while living a high-profile life as a member of the royal family

1 King Charles: He didn’t want to marry Princess Diana

In 1981 on July 29, King Charles III married Princess Diana. Their televised wedding was watched by 750 million people in 74 countries.

However, their fairy-tale wedding wasn’t the magical big day the public assumed. In Robert Jobson’s book, Charles At Seventy: Thoughts, Hopes And Dreams, he revealed that Charles did not want to marry Diana.

“I desperately wanted to get out of the wedding in 1981, when during the engagement I discovered just how awful the prospects were having had no chance whatsoever to get to know Diana beforehand,” Charles told Robert.

Queen Elizabeth wasn’t crazy about the idea of Diana marrying Charles.

“The Queen wondered whether anyone that young could differentiate between the man and the prince,”  royal biographer Ingrid Seward said.

As a result, she believed Charles’ younger brother, Prince Andrew, was the better man for her to marry.

Princess Diana and King Charles looking over their shoulders
Princess Diana and King Charles married in July 1981 (Credit:

2 A high-profile divorce

Over 10 years after saying “I do”, it was announced on December 9, 1992, that Charles and Diana had separated. While this came as a shock to the public, they were also stunned when it was revealed that both of them committed adultery while married.

At the time, Charles had been asked by journalist Jonathan Dimbleby if he remained faithful during their marriage. He said: “Yes […] Until it became irretrievably broken down, us both having tried.”

Diana admitted that she also was guilty of the same thing, participating in an affair with Major James Hewitt.

“Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded,” she revealed on BBC’s Panorama. She was referring to Charles’ ongoing relationship with Camilla.

While all this was going on, Queen Elizabeth suggested the pair should divorce. Their divorce was finalized in August 1996 with Diana receiving a financial settlement of approximately £17.8 million.

However, she lost her right to use the Her Royal Highness title.

3 Diana’s death left Charles feeling ‘distraught’

The world stopped when Diana tragically died on August 31, 1997, after being involved in a car crash in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel in Paris, France.

Diana was sent straight to the Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital in Paris, where she was treated for her injuries. However, just hours after the incident, she died.

Charles received the news while at the Balmoral estate in Scotland with his two sons – Princes William and Harry.

In the 2017 TV documentary Diana: 7 Days That Shook the Windsors, author Tina Brown opened up about Charles’ immediate reaction.

“He was absolutely distraught,” she said. “He knew, instantly, that this was going to be a terrible thing, that he will be blamed, that they will be blamed, for the death of Diana.”

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip smiling
Charles’ mourned his parents with the public (Credit:

4 The loss of Prince Philip Charles

On April 9, 2021, Charles’ father, Prince Philip, died.

The following day, Charles appeared in a video shared to the Clarence House X account.

He said: “My dear Papa was a very special person who I think above all else would have been amazed by the reaction and the touching things that have been said about him and from that point of view we are, my family, deeply grateful for all that.”

“It will sustain us in this particular loss and at this particularly sad time.”

5 The death of his mother The Queen

Over a year later, on September 8, 2021, Charles also had to suffer with his mother’s, Queen Elizabeth’s, death.

“We mourn profoundly the passing of a cherished sovereign and a much-loved mother,” he shared in a statement.

We mourn profoundly the passing of a cherished sovereign and a much-loved mother.

“I know her loss will be deeply felt throughout the country, the realms and the Commonwealth, and by countless people around the world.”

6 His estranged relationship with Prince Harry

Charles’ youngest son, Prince Harry, made a cautious decision to step down as senior member of the royal family.

He and his wife, Meghan Markle, relocated to California where Harry now has a largely estranged relationship with his father.

In his 2023 memoir Spare, Harry made many allegations about the royal family which didn’t go down well. As reported by the Mirror, Charles in particular was not happy about what Harry shared in the book.

In Robert Jobson’s book Our King: Charles III: The Man and the Monarch Revealed, the author claimed the two fell out over money.

“Charles stopped taking the calls, however, after his son had sworn at him and repeatedly asked for funds in their tense calls,” he insisted. “When the Queen asked him why, Charles told her that he was not a bank.”

When Charles celebrated his 75th birthday, Harry was not present. However, he did attend the Coronation. But, again, it was a flying visit.

King Charles and Prince Harry
King Charles and Prince Harry have a largely estranged relationship but he did fly over after the monarch’s cancer diagnosis (Credit:

7 King Charles diagnosed with cancer

After a tough few years, Charles has now found out that he has been diagnosed with cancer.

Following a visit to the hospital to be treated for an enlarged prostate, Buckingham Palace confirmed Charles had cancer. However, they didn’t specify what type of cancer he has.

“During The King’s recent hospital procedure for benign prostate enlargement, a separate issue of concern was noted. Subsequent diagnostic tests have identified a form of cancer,” a statement read.

“He remains wholly positive about his treatment and looks forward to returning to full public duty as soon as possible.”

After the sad news broke, Harry jetted to London to visit his father. However, less than 24 hours later, he was already seen at Heathrow Airport to head back to California.

Read more: King Charles ‘teary-eyed’ following meeting with Prince Harry amid ‘stressful’ cancer

Prince Harry Reunites With King Charles For Less Than An Hour

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Fabio Magnocavallo
Freelance Writer