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Diana finalised her divorce from Prince Charles on August 28, 1996, marking her official exit from the royal frontline and an end to her role as the future queen consort. She had been separated from Charles since 1992, but during that time both of them had been incredibly open about the tensions within their marriage. Diana secretly took part in the bombshell biography by Andrew Morton, ‘Diana — Her True Story’ in 1992, which partially triggered their split and exposed her unhappiness behind Palace walls.
Charles then took part in a 1994 interview with Jonathan Dimbleby, where he revealed that he had resumed his affair with former flame Camilla Parker Bowles in 1986.
The astonished public were then stunned once again the following year when Diana offered to do a BBC Panorama interview with Martin Bashir.
In it, she famously said “there were always three of us in this marriage”, referring to Charles’ affair, and implied she had not been welcomed within the royal fold.
Seeing the threat this posed to the monarchy, the Queen urged the estranged couple to secure a divorce settlement within the next year — despite them both promising they would never do so back in 1992.
Princess Diana, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry (Image: Getty)
Diana’s 1995 BBC Panorama interview stunned the nation (Image: Getty)
Royal biographer Howard Hodgson explained how Diana’s settlement included a crucial detail to prevent either of them being so open about their marriage again.
Writing in his 2007 biography, ‘Charles — The Man who will be King’, he said: “Now forbidden by a binding contract to involve herself in any further fabrication and distortion about her marriage and her relationship with the Prince of Wales, and his family, the Princess was forced to abandon such intrigue.”
He continued: “Accepting that Charles was now out of bounds, she made a genuine effort to improve relations with a man who had shown her much kindness and a lot more love than she had ever admitted to publicly.”
As relations between Charles and Diana improved significantly over the following year, Harry and William were able to enjoy a more amicable atmosphere between their parents.
Diana and Charles’ 1996 divorce included a confidentiality clause (Image: Getty)
Although the pair have said very little on their exit since they formally left at the end of March, many royal critics speculate they may have had a hand in the recently released ‘Finding Freedom’.
The book provides a sympathetic account of the couples’ decision to leave the Firm.
Both the authors and the Sussexes state they have not collaborated to produce the book — however, the level of intimate details within it has led some to compare it to ‘Diana — Her True Story’, which Diana secretly collaborated in.
The book revives the reported rift between Prince William and Kate Middleton with Meghan and Harry, claiming the Duke of Cambridge was “snobbish” towards his new sister-in-law and the Duchess was unfriendly.
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Diana and Charles had been open about their marital problems since their split in 1992 (Image: Getty)
Meghan and Harry have left the royal frontline (Image: Getty)
The biography also claims Meghan told a friend in March: “I gave up my entire life for this family. I was willing to do whatever it takes. But here we are. It’s very sad.”
Meghan and Harry have also alluded to royal matters since setting up camp in California.
Harry sparked outrage when he said the Commonwealth needed to address its “uncomfortable past” earlier this year, despite the international association being one of his grandmother’s proudest achievements.
Meghan then encouraged young women to push back against the “status quo” which many saw as a veiled reference to institutions such as the monarchy.
Interestingly, Meghan and Harry did “ask neighbours to sign non-disclosure agreements” during their secret six-week holiday in Canada, but appear not to have signed one with the monarchy.
Meghan and Harry’s ‘Megxit’ agreement with the Queen is not thought to include a confidentiality clause (Image: Getty)
It should be noted that Harry allegedly has no plans to get involved with Meghan’s campaign to encourage women to vote in the upcoming presidential election.
An insider told the Telegraph this week that the Duke of Sussex is not eligible to vote in the US and wants to respect his family’s position on the global stage.
There are a few other key differences between Diana’s exit and the Sussexes.
While Diana was stripped of her HRH status, Meghan and Harry have kept it but can no longer use it — or the word ‘royal’ in any of their work.
Diana could not work for financial gain, while the Sussexes are looking to become financially independent within the next year.