Sad Cinderella


I’ve been called on the carpet by a reader for my post on Prince Charles and Camilla, which was, I admit, pretty snarky. . .

I know the wedding is over and done now, but I offer a few more comments, specifically related to Princess Diana, because her story has particular resonance for women of my generation who have such specific memories of setting the alarm and getting up in the middle of the night to watch her wedding with our mothers. A real life Cinderella!

Specifically related to my accusation that Prince Charles married Princess Diana under false pretenses, a reader writes:

. . .people can honestly and with the best of intentions enter into a marriage because they feel it is right thing to do, but it ends up (in hindsight) being a mistake of colossal proportions. That’s part of our human-ness. I especially have a lot of sympathy for someone in Charles’ position where everything he does is so closely scrutinized. He doesn’t have the freedom to make his mistakes in private. Plus, at the time of his marriage to Diana,

wasn’t Camilla married already? He probably felt that was a closed issue. I believe he married Diana with the best of intentions and with high hopes — and she did, as well.

These are some really good points. And, I realize that arm-chair quarterbacking people we know and love is a dicey proposition, let alone people we don’t. . .

On the other hand (!), we do have to learn from other people’s mistakes. And as the mother of three girls, there are a couple of things that I want to add about how sadly the lives of these three people — Charles, Diana, Camilla (not to mention her first husband) — turned out.

The reader may be right that Prince Charles had good intentions. I hope so. My take was that it was unprincely of Prince Charles that a man of his experience and powerful position, involved the innocent girl that Diana was when she met him, into the mess that their lives became.

She was a sad, sad Cinderella.

But I think poor Diana herself could have done some things differently, and that’s what I hope my girls learn from her story. . .

Related to Charles’ and Diana’s pre-wedding intentions — I remember reading that Diana discovered that Camilla was still her competitor before the wedding. There was some sort of issue involving a bracelet that Charles gave Camilla a gift? And who can forget Charles’ comment when asked if he loved Diana, “whatever love means. . .”

It’s a shame that when Diana saw those red flags, she didn’t hold Charles’ feet to the fire, before the wedding. That’s when she still had some power.

But of course, would any of us in her position, planning the Cinderella wedding of the century, have been willing to stand up to him and say, “You either make a real commitment to me, or it’s over?”

Would have been hard to do. Too hard apparently.

The irony is that if she’d shown that kind of backbone, he might actually have respected her more and grown to love her as he did Camilla. It was her only real shot.

Sad, sad Cinderella.

I want better for my girls. I’m going to tell them: it’s all about the upfront negotiation — expecting, and demanding, respect, fidelity, honor and commitment — if you want to ride into happily ever after.


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