Prince Charles and Princess Diana knew each other for 20 years. The Crown season 4 shows the first 13 so here’s a full timeline of their relationship.
The Crown season 4 depicts the beginnings and breakdown of the marriage of Prince Charles (Josh O’Connor) and Diana, Princess of Wales (Emma Corrin); here’s a full timeline of their relationship. From start to finish — Diana’s tragic death in 1997 — Charles and Diana knew each other for 20 years, and they have two children together, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex.
Charles and Diana’s unhappy and tumultuous pairing is one of the central storylines of The Crown season 4, along with Queen Elizabeth II’s (Olivia Colman) dealings with her new Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher (Gillian Anderson). The Crown season 4 weaves in as many of Diana and Charles’ key events as it can dramatize while choosing to leave out a few significant moments, like their opulent 1981 wedding. The Crown season 4 also ends in 1990 at a point where Charles and Diana’s story is left hanging in limbo, but it will be concluded in season 5.
As much as The Crown season 4 did fit in about Charles and Diana, their 20-year story has some gaps that the following timeline will fill in. These include the major events that happened before season 4 that placed them on a trajectory where they would meet and later marry, as well as what happened in between The Crown season 4’s episodes and what fans can expect to see in The Crown season 5.
Charles And Diana In The Crown Seasons 1-3 (1948-1977)
November 14, 1948 – Charles Philip Arthur George, the future Prince of Wales, is born to Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip Mountbatten, Duke of Edinburgh, at Buckingham Palace. He is their first of four children, along with Princess Anne, Prince, Andrew, and Prince Edward.
June 2, 1953 – Prince Charles attends his mother’s coronation at Westminster Abbey where she becomes Queen Elizabeth II, as seen in The Crown season 1 episode, “Smoke and Mirrors.”
July 1, 1961 – Diana Spencer is born at Park House, Sandringham, a home that her parents rented from Queen Elizabeth II. She is the fourth of five children, along with Sarah, Jane, and Charles. Her infant brother John died shortly after his birth a year before Diana is born.
April 1962 – Prince Charles attends Gordonstoun, a boarding school in Scotland that was Prince Philip’s alma mater. He had an unhappy and difficult time at Gordonstoun, as seen in The Crown season 2 episode, “Paterfamilias.”
July 1, 1969 – Charles’ investiture as Prince of Wales takes place at a televised ceremony held at Caernafon Castle. Prince Charles attended University College of Wales in Aberystwyth and studied Welsh history and language for a term, as seen in The Crown season 3 episode, “Tywysog Cymru.”
Mid 1971 – Princes Charles meets Camilla Shand at the home of their friend Lucia Santa Cruz. Camilla had an on-and-off relationship with Andrew Parker Bowles, who was also courting Princess Anne, Charles’ sister. Lord Louis Mountbatten and Elizabeth the Queen Mother plot to stop the relationship between Charles and Camilla; Charles spends 8 months serving in the Royal Navy while Camilla marries Andrew Parker Bowles in 1973, as seen in The Crown season 3 episodes “Dangling Man” and “Imbroglio.”
June 1975 – Diana Spencer becomes Lady Diana Spencer when her father John became the 8th Earl Spencer upon his father’s death. Her aristocracy now makes Diana “suitable” to marry into the royal family.
Charles And Diana During The Crown Season 4 (1977-1990)
The Crown season 4 depicts the first 13 years of Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s relationship, but these were the key years between them as they were married for nearly the entire decade of the 1980s. They also had both of their children during that decade but their marriage was over by 1990, although the Queen refused to allow them to separate or divorce.
The Crown Season 4, Episode 1 – “Gold Stick”
November 1977 – Prince Charles is dating Sarah Spencer when he meets Diana for the first time at Althorp House, the Spencers’ family estate in Northamptonshire. Charles was 29 and Diana was 16. The Crown invented a fleeting first encounter between Charles and Diana, but in real life, Charles described her as “a very jolly and amusing and attractive 16-year-old . . . great fun, and bouncy and full of life and everything.”
February 1978 – During a ski trip, Sarah Spencer spoke to the press and dashed her chances with the Prince of Wales when she told a reporter that she wouldn’t marry Prince Charles “if he were the dustman or the King of England.”
August 27, 1979 – Lord Louis Mountbatten, who was a surrogate father and often wrote to Prince Charles about his need to find a suitable wife, is assassinated in Ireland by the IRA. Charles gave the eulogy at his funeral.
July 1980 – Charles and Diana meet again when they both stay at their mutual friend Philip de Pass’s family home in Sussex for the weekend. Charles is now 31 and Diana is 18. The Crown changes the circumstances of their second meeting and stages it outside of Princess Anne’s riding competition, but in real life, Charles and Diana bonded over Lord Mountbatten’s funeral.
The Crown Season 4, Episode 2 – “The Balmoral Test
July – September 1980 – Charles and Diana go on dates (a total of 13 according to Diana in her biography, Diana: Her True Story In Her Own Words). The Crown shows one date at an opera where they are accompanied by a chaperone, Diana’s grandmother, Lady Fermoy.
September 1980 – Diana visits Balmoral Castle in Scotland on her third date with Charles. The Crown depicts Prince Philip (Tobias Menzies) taking Diana stalking and shooting an Imperial stag, during which time Diana wins Philip and the rest of the family over. Following her “triumph” at Balmoral, Philip instructs Charles to marry Diana. In real life, Diana did win over the Windsors and passed their “Balmoral Test” with flying colors.
The Crown Season 4, Episode 3 – “Fairytale”
February 1981 – Feeling trapped by the demands on her family and despite his preference for Camilla, Charles does his duty and proposes to Diana at Windsor Castle. The couple makes their engagement public on February 24; during a TV interview, when Charles and Diana are asked if they are in love, Charles answers, “Whatever ‘in love’ means.”
March 1981 – Charles departs for Australia and New Zealand for 5 weeks while Diana leaves her flatmates at Earl’s Court and moves into Clarence House to begin “princess training” with her grandmother, Lady Fermoy. In real life, Diana finds a letter from Camila waiting for her when she arrives at Clarence House.
March – July 1981 – Diana and Camilla meet for lunch, an event that did happen and was dramatized in The Crown. Diana begins to suspect the true extent of Charles’s relationship with Camilla. Diana also finds the bracelet Charles gave to Camilla, which he claimed was a “goodbye present” in The Crown.
July 29, 1981 – Prince Charles marries Diana, who becomes Princess of Wales, at St. Paul’s Cathedral. Their televised wedding is seen by over 750-million people. The couple heads off on their honeymoon, a 14-day cruise aboard the royal yacht Britannia to Balmoral. According to Diana: Her True Story In Her Own Words, Camilla was the third person on their honeymoon. Charles wore the cufflinks intertwined with “C’s” Camilla gave him as a wedding present.
June 21, 1982 – Prince William is born to Charles and Diana. According to Diana, the couple ‘scheduled’ the birth of their son around Charles’ polo schedule.
The Crown Season 4, Episode 6 – “Terra Nullius”
March – April 1983 – Prince Charles and Princess Diana embark on their six-week tour of Australia and New Zealand. Diana’s immense popularity eclipses Charles, who was meant to be the focal point of the tour as the future King. The couple poses as in love in public but argues behind the scenes. Charles and Diana also brought Prince William along on the tour; unlike how The Crown depicts Diana as insistent that William come with them, in real life, Diana accepted she had to leave her infant son back in the UK. When former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser said they should bring Prince William along, Charles and Diana agreed.
September 15, 1984 – Prince Harry, the future Duke of Sussex, is born in London. In her biography, Diana said that the weeks leading up to Harry’s birth was the last time she and Charles were happy as a couple. Charles wanted a girl and when he saw Harry, Diana said he blurted “Oh God, it’s a boy,” Charles followed up with, “And he’s even got red hair!” Diana later said that “this was the beginning of the end of their marriage.”
The Crown Season 4, Episode 9 – “Avalanche”
December 1985 – As depicted in The Crown, Diana surprises Charles by performing Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl” on stage with ballet star Wayne Sleep at London Opera House. The surprise backfires as Charles is upset with her for “showing off.”
1986 – Both Charles and Diana begin extra-marital affairs. Charles rekindles his relationship with Camilla. Diana is said to have taken several lovers, including her bodyguard, Bary Mannakee, and army captain James Hewitt.
1987 – The press begins speculation of a “royal break” in Charles and Diana’s marriage after Diana doesn’t join him at the Windsors’ annual summer break at Balmoral.
March 1988 – Prince Charles was caught in an avalanche while vacationing at the Klosters resort in Switzerland, as seen in The Crown. Charles’ close friend, Major Hugh Lindsay, was killed in the avalanche. In real life, Diana and a pregnant Sarah Ferguson were also in Switzerland but weren’t skiing that day
The Crown Season 4, Episode 10 – “War”
February 1989 – Princess Diana travels to New York City solo for a four-day trip. She visits a Harlem hospital and meets patients with HIV and AIDS, as shown in The Crown.
November 1989 – Not shown in The Crown is an incident at a birthday party for Camilla’s sister where Diana decides to confront Camilla and tell her that she knows about her affair with Charles.
What Will Happen To Charles And Diana In The Crown Season 5 (1991-2005)
The Crown season 5 will pick up Charles and Diana’s story in the 1990s, and the next batch of episodes will presumably depict the end of the Prince and Princess of Wales’ marriage. Key events The Crown season 5 could depict include:
1992: Recordings of telephone conversations between Diana and her lover James Gilbey as well as tapes of Charles and Camilla being leaked to the press in 1992. Those scandals were dubbed “Squidgygate” and “Camillagate.”
November 1992, Diana’s tell-all biography by Andrew Morton, Diana: Her True Story In Her Own Words, is published.
December 1992: Charles and Diana formally announce their separation, which is said to be “amicable.”
June 1994: Prince Charles admits in a television documentary interview that he had an affair with Camilla.
November 1995: Diana gives an in-depth interview to Martin Bashir of the BBC program Panorama where she publicly reveals her bulimia, adultery, attempts at self-harm, and casts doubts on Charles’ capacity to be King. Diana says she will never be queen but would like to be remembered as “the queen of people’s hearts.”
December 1995: After Diana’s Bashir interview, Queen Elizabeth formally gives Charles and Diana permission to divorce.
July 1996: The terms of Charles and Diana’s divorce are finalized. Diana would continue to be considered a part of the royal family but her HRH (Her Royal Highness) title is removed.
August 31, 1997 – Princess Diana and her boyfriend Dodi Fayed are killed in a car accident in Paris while fleeing paparazzi.