Meghan Markle Will Miss the Coronation, But There’s Another Royal Absence We Can’t Stop Thinking About—Diana’s

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It still hasn’t quite hit me that I’ll be witnessing the coronation—alongside my Royally Obsessed podcast co-host Roberta Fiorito—of King Charles III from across the pond in London in a little less than a week’s time. In conversations with Roberta, we’ve been reflecting each week about what to expect on May 6—from the pomp and pageantry of it all to whether or not Prince Harry and Meghan Markle would make the trip over in the wake of Spare. (We recently got an answer to the latter—Harry will be there; Meghan will not.)

Yes, I’ll miss Meghan’s presence greatly (with deep respect for what was likely her choice to prioritize her mental health and son Archie’s fourth birthday over the Crown), but there’s another royal absence I can’t stop thinking about: Diana’s.

It’s been a little over 25 years since Princess Diana tragically died in a car crash in Paris and almost 30 years since Diana, in a conversation with the BBC’s Panorama and Martin Bashir—an interview we’ve since learned was deceitfully obtained—shared her thoughts on whether or not Charles was fit to be king.

Speaking specifically on the matter of a future King Charles, she said: “Being Prince of Wales produces more freedom now and being King would be a little bit more suffocating. And because I know the character, I would think that the top job, as I call it, would bring enormous limitations to him and I don’t know whether he could adapt to that.”

princess diana wedding to charles
Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images

In that very same interview, Diana—in answer to a question about whether Charles, then Prince of Wales-in-waiting, would ever become king—said, “Who knows what fate will produce, who knows what circumstances will provoke?” (She was of course alluding to the public’s reaction to their pending divorce; also, his relationship with the now-Queen Camilla—all earth-shattering royal news back then.)

But that’s just it: Time moves on. From our 2023 perspective, we have the privilege of knowing what’s transpired in the decades since Diana’s death, which happened far too soon in 1997. The world has moved forward; Charles & Camilla married; we’re about to crown them King & Queen. We’ve also got our own earth-shattering royal revelations to process—namely, royal family relations in the wake of Spare, in particular the state of the bond (or lack thereof) between Diana’s own children, Princes William and Harry.

Still, Diana—especially for generations ranging from boomers to millennials—is the royal who first truly captured our hearts. Much like Meghan, her “fairy tale” didn’t play out as expected and the gaping hole left by her absence next week will be felt.

How? For many, it’s the formality of seeing Queen Camilla crowned. Also, I can’t help but ponder what Diana’s own royal role might have been. No, she likely wouldn’t have been up there on the balcony, but as mum to the future king, we probably would have been witness to some incredible fashion, cheeky dealings with her grandchildren (just imagine her and Prince Louis!) and her uncanny ability to infuse humor into every event.

princess diana prince charles william and harry
Tim Graham/Getty Images

On a more serious note, perhaps the relationship between Charles, William and Harry wouldn’t be as fractured. (It has been reported that she and Charles were excelling at co-parenting shortly before her death.)

I’d be remiss not to mention that I actually feel incredibly optimistic about King Charles III. I love his progressive views on climate change and his subtle royal rebellion on matters large and small. (From his cheeky comments on the media to dipping into politics when that’s known to be a royal taboo.) I’m looking forward to May 6 at Westminster Abbey. Still, I can’t shake the feeling that this would all feel so different if Diana were around.

After all, we’ve entered a time where the monarchy is under fierce pressure to modernize. Diana, in the 1980s, was a trailblazer on that front, from her natural warmth when it came to parenting to her inclinations to champion more controversial causes like AIDS and land mines. Heck, just search her name on TikTok—even now, she continues to inspire new generations of royal fans.

Bottom line: As the world witnesses this historic moment, it’s hard not to miss her presence—and feel thoughtful about what could have been.

For more about the coronation, listen to the Royally Obsessed podcast with co-hosts Rachel Bowie and Roberta Fiorito. Subscribe now or follow us on Instagram @royallyobsessedpodcast.

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Royal family expert, a cappella alum, mom

Rachel Bowie is Senior Director of Special Projects & Royals at PureWow, where she covers parenting, fashion, wellness and money in addition to overseeing initiatives within...