Princess Diana nearly called off the fairytale royal wedding depicted in The Crown season 4 after finding a present Prince Charles bought his ex-girlfriend Camilla.
Lady Diana Spencer became the Princess of Wales when she married Charles wearing an ivory taffeta gown embroidered with 10,000 pearls and with a 25ft long train.
However, the ceremony almost did not happen after she was left in tears when she opened a parcel addressed to her future husband.
Inside was a gift of a bracelet he planned to give his ex-girlfriend Camilla Parker Bowles—now his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall. Charles and Camilla went on to have an affair during his marriage to Diana.
A version of the story appears in The Crown but instead of finding the gift, Diana simply finds drawings of it.
The real-life events are recounted in Diana: Her True Story by Andrew Morton, a biography that the princess co-operated with.
The author described how “she had collapsed in paroxysms of tears and seriously considered calling the whole thing off.”
He wrote: “The cause of the tears was the arrival, a few days earlier, of a parcel at the busy Buckingham Palace office which she shared with Michael Colbourne, who was then in charge of the prince’s finances, and several others.
“Diana insisted on opening it despite firm remonstrations from the prince’s right-hand man.
“Inside was a gold chain bracelet with a blue enamel disc and the initials ‘F’ and ‘G’ intertwined.
“The initials stand for ‘Fred’ and ‘Gladys,’ the nicknames used by Camilla and Charles, which Diana had been made aware of by friends.”
In The Crown, it is Camilla herself who tells Diana of the nicknames.
When the future princess confronts Charles, he claims it is a parting gift to tell Camilla their relationship is over.
The 1992 book describes Diana begging Charles not to give the bracelet while the prince insists on going ahead.
Diana is quoted as saying: “So rage, rage, rage! ‘Why can’t you be honest with me?’ But, no, he cut me absolutely dead.
“It’s as if he had made his decision, and if it wasn’t going to work, it wasn’t going to work.”
Morton writes that the seriousness of the situation hit home for Diana at the wedding rehearsal, when she broke down in tears “as soon as the camera lights were switched on.”
Diana is quoted in the book saying: “The night before the wedding I was very, very, deathly calm.
“I felt I was a lamb to the slaughter. I knew it and I couldn’t do anything about it.”
On the day of the July 1981 wedding, at St Paul’s Cathedral in London, crowds lined the street desperate to catch a glimpse of the carriage.
Make-up artist Barbara Daly told the 2017 documentary Diana: In Her Own Words how the future princess thought the national frenzy was “a lot of fuss.”
Daly said: “I liked her immediately. She was looking at the television.
“It was kind of a very strange thing because you could see the crowds on the small television that was just under the window, and there were all the crowds that we could see on the television, right outside the window.
“And she said, ‘This is a lot of fuss for one girl getting married.’
“We walked down to the carriage and she just sort of gave my hand a little squeeze and then hummed me a little ditty which was from the commercial, ‘One Cornetto.’
“Do you remember that little commercial? It was about an ice cream and it had a big glitzy carriage in it and off she went.
“Beautiful girl, the handsome prince, the sunshine, the crowds, a fairytale. It was magical.”
On the day, Diana had lost so much weight she came down from a 26 or 27-inch waist to a 23-inch waist, dress designer Elizabeth Emanuel told People.
The dress and train were so big they were difficult to cram into the carriage and became creased in the process.
The Crown‘s teaser trailer features much of a speech actually given by the Archbishop of Canterbury at the ceremony.
It reads: “Here is the stuff of which fairytales are made—a prince and princess on their wedding day.
“But fairytales usually end, at this point, with the simple phrase: ‘They lived happily ever after.’
“As husband and wife live out their vows, loving and cherishing one another, sharing life’s splendors and miseries, achievements and setbacks, they will be transformed in the process.
“Our faith sees the wedding day not as the place of arrival but the place where the adventure really begins.”