Saying goodbye is never easy. But when kings, queens, princes and princesses are involved and titles and a monarchy's approval ratings are at stake, things can get very messy. Add in public scrutiny and you have a recipe for some serious drama when royals call it quits. Wonderwall.com is rounding up the most dramatic royal splits in modern history, starting with the couple who had the most infamous royal divorce — Prince Charles and Princess Diana. The couple wed in 1981 about a year after they struck up a romance (that reportedly only included 12 dates!), but their marriage was anything but a fairy tale union. Though they produced two heirs, Prince William in 1982 followed by Prince Harry in 1984, the two were both unfaithful during their marriage. After learning that Charles was having a lengthy affair with old girlfriend Camilla Parker Bowles, Diana had her own dalliances during their union. They finally split in 1992 and their divorce was finalized three years later in 1995. The negotiation of titles in the wake of their separation resulted in the queen allowing Diana to continue to be referred to as "Her Royal Highness," but Charles reportedly refused — hence her keeping the title, Diana, Princess of Wales, as a compromise. Keep reading to learn about more dramatic royal splits…
Remember this split? Years before Prince William and Kate Middleton's fairy tale 2011 wedding, they broke up in the spring of 2007. The couple, who'd been dating since college, put an end to things temporarily, raising eyebrows and dominating headlines in the process. William was the one who called it off as engagement speculation was ramping up. Funnily enough, the world got clarification on this breakup a few years later — during William and Duchess Kate's engagement interview in 2011. The Duke of Cambridge explained that he'd needed some space at the time, sharing, "It was very much trying to find our own way and we were growing up so it was just a bit of space, and it worked out for the better." Kate admitted to hating the split, but saw a silver lining, sharing, "At the time I wasn't very happy about it, but it actually made me a stronger person. You find out things about yourself that maybe you hadn't realized. I think you can get quite consumed by a relationship when you are younger, and I really valued that time for me as well although I didn't think it at the time."
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Zimbabwean Chelsy Davy was Prince Harry's first serious girlfriend. The two started dating in 2004 and continued an on-off love affair until 2011. Chelsy even served as Harry's date to brother Prince William's wedding. But it wasn't meant to be, and the two ended things later that same year. At the time it wasn't clear why the royal and the lawyer-turned-jewelry designer broke up after such a lengthy relationship that seemed headed for the altar. But later, Chelsy shed light on why they didn't make it when she told Britain's The Times in 2016 that the attention dating Harry brought was "crazy, scary and uncomfortable." She added, "I found it very difficult when it was bad. I couldn't cope. I was young, I was trying to be a normal kid, and it was horrible." Ultimately, they forged a friendship: Chelsy attended Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding in 2018.
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Prince Harry's other love before Duchess Meghan? Cressida Bonas, an aspiring model, dancer and actress. The Duke of Sussex and Cressida began dating in 2012 after being introduced by Harry's cousin, Princess Eugenie. Though many royal watchers thought Cressida might be the one, this romance didn't last as long as his relationship with Chelsy Davy. The couple split in 2014. It's been speculated that the breakup was sparked by Prince William and Duchess Kate. Britain's Sun tabloid reported that Cressida wanted out of the relationship after seeing the coverage of William and Kate's first royal tour after welcoming Prince George and realized she didn't want that kind of attention herself. Despite their split, the two stayed on good terms! Like Chelsy Davy, Cressida also was in attendance at Harry's 2018 wedding.
Prince Louis and Princess Tessy of Luxembourg announced their split in 2017 after 10 years of marriage. The couple had an unconventional trajectory from the start — they welcomed their first child, son Gabriel, before they were married. Once they tied the knot in 2006, they welcomed their second child, son Noah, exactly a year after their wedding. Their divorce was finalized in 2019, and Tessy lost her title.
Princess Anne completed a divorce the same year big brother Prince Charles separated from Princess Diana. Her union with Captain Mark Phillips came to an official end in 1992 when her divorce was finalized, though they'd separated three years prior. Like her brother's marriage, it was revealed that she and Mark were both unfaithful (Mark even fathered a child with another woman while still wed to Anne). But things hadn't always been so tumultuous. They married in 1973 and had two children before they separated in 1989 — son Peter, born in 1977, and daughter Zara, born in 1981. Don't feel bad for Anne — she rebounded quickly and married Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence the same year she divorced.
Queen Elizabeth II's children weren't lucky in love! Her third child, Prince Andrew, also divorced. The Duke of York wed Sarah Ferguson in 1986, but just six years later, they separated (also in 1992!). During their short marriage, they welcomed daughters Princess Beatrice in 1988 and Princess Eugenie in 1990. Though the couple's parting itself wasn't super-dramatic — they reportedly just grew apart — the aftermath was filled with scandal, like when Fergie was photographed having her toes sucked by another man while she and Andrew were still legally wed. Like former sister-in-law Princess Diana, Fergie lost the "Her Royal Highness" title and was styled Sarah, Duchess of York, from then on. Crazily enough, the exes started living together again — though things were said to be platonic — not long after their divorce was finalized 1996 and still share a very large home in Windsor, England, to this day.
Princess Caroline of Monaco's first of three marriages ended in divorce. She wed Philippe Junot, a Parisian banker, when she was just 21 in 1978. Among the guests at their star-studded wedding? Frank Sinatra and Cary Grant! Unfortunately, Caroline and Philippe's marriage was short-lived, ending in divorce in 1980 after just two years. She needed the Catholic Church to annul the union years later when she wed her second husband, Stefano Casiraghi, to legitimize her three children with him, and the church eventually granted that request in 1992.
Princess Stephanie of Monaco (Princess Caroline's younger sister) has two divorces under her belt. The first came in 1996 just a year after she married her bodyguard, Daniel Ducruet, when he was caught cheating on her with Miss Bare Breasts of Belgium 1995. The couple had two children together — son Louis, born in 1992, and daughter Pauline, born in 1994.
Princess Stephanie of Monaco wed again in 2003. This time, her husband was acrobat Adans Lopez Peres. Unfortunately, that marriage didn't fare much better — it also ended after a little more than a year. Adding to the scandal of this doomed relationship? Aside from Stephanie being 10 years older than Adans, before she hit it off with him, she was linked to his boss, circus boss Franco Knie.
Prince Joachim of Denmark and wife Princess Alexandra divorced in 2005, nearly 10 years after they wed. They had two children — Prince Nikolai, born in 1999, and Prince Felix, born in 2002. Theirs was the first divorce the Danish royal family had seen in 150 years. Joachim went on to remarry, partnering with Marie Cavallier two years later.
Princess Irene of the Netherlands secretly converted to Catholicism in order to marry Carlos Hugo, the Duke of Parma, back in 1964. She also gave up her right to the throne in order to wed Carlos. They went on to have four children — Carlos, later the Duke of Parma; Princess Margarita, Countess of Colorno; Prince Jaime, Count of Bardi; and Princess Carolina, Marchioness of Sala. Despite Irene's sacrifice, the two ended up divorcing in 1981.
Queen Elizabeth II's sister, Princess Margaret, divorced photographer husband Antony Armstrong-Jones, also known as the Earl of Snowdon, in 1978 — 18 years after they wed. Their union was marred by scandal including rumors of drug and alcohol abuse as well as myriad affairs. They welcomed two children during their time together: son David, born in 1961, and daughter Sarah, born in 1964. Margaret became the first senior member of the royal family to get divorced since 1901. Years after their split, it was confirmed that Lord Snowdon had fathered a child born to another woman while he and Margaret were on their honeymoon.
The grandfather of all royal divorces? The very first one — a split that was responsible for a massive change in British and world history. When King Henry VIII of England wasn't allowed to divorce his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, after she didn't produce a living male heir, he decided to split from the Catholic Church entirely. The Pope's denial of Henry's divorce request resulted in the monarch's decision to end the historic union between England and Catholicism and establish his own religion, the Church of England. Henry went on to have five more wives.