PRINCESS Diana secured a huge sum when she divorced Prince Charles in 1996, which “stunned [and] outraged” the Prince of Wales, according to a royal biographer.
Princess Diana and Prince Charles had a famously tumultuous marriage which dramatically deteriorated until the couple separated in 1992. Their divorce, which did not come for another four years, came after the Queen urged the couple to divorce in a private meeting of the royal family as they celebrated Christmas at Sandringham in 1995. Arguably the most high-profile divorce in British history, the terms were the subject of wild speculation at the time as proceedings were played out over several months.
In the end, Princess Diana won a staggering £17million lump sum – approximately £31million in today’s money – and an additional £400,000 – around £730,000 today – as an annual allowance.
The Princess of Wales made a series of manoeuvres to secure the sum.
Tina Brown, in her 2007 biography “The Diana Chronicles”, writes: “The Prince was first stunned, then outraged, when, in April [he was] presented with Diana’s final £17million term.”
She explains: “The Princess held a high card: while Prince Charles was now desperate to be rid of her, she could wait.
“In May, Diana went to the Queen and told her that unless her terms were met she would withdraw her consent to divorce.
“Without it, Charles would have to wait another two years until the obligatory five have had been reached for a non-consenting divorce.
“If she ran out of money, she would sell her jewels in order to live and that would be a great embarrassment.”
In response, Prince Charles reportedly tried to go over the head of Diana’s divorce lawyer and straight to the head of the firm, Lord Mishcon, to try to reduce Diana’s demands.
However, Ms Brown writes: “On July 13, the divorce deal was sealed on the terms Diana asked. It was a sweet clear victory.
“She may have lost her title but she had won financial independence of the first time in her life.”
Until the divorce awarded her money in her own right, the Princess had very few assets of her own.
Most of her jewels belonged to the Crown, and she famously had to return the Spencer tiara, that she had worn on her wedding day, back to her brother when he became the ninth Earl.
When she began consulting her divorce lawyer Anthony Julius, he had to help the princess secure a bank loan to meet his fees.
The Prince and Princess of Wales received their decree absolute on August 28, 1996.
The princess established trusts for her sons Princes Harry and William, which they inherited on their 30th birthdays, receiving £10million each.
The £400,000 yearly allowance was earmarked for running the princess’ office, as she continued with her work for many charitable causes, and she also continued her residence at Kensington Palace.
After the divorce, she lost the use of the title HRH, and became known simply as Diana, Princess of Wales.
According to biographer Sarah Bradford, the princess also signed a confidentiality agreement as part of her divorce terms.
Ms Bradford writes: “The couple would sign a confidentiality agreement, prohibiting them from discussing the terms of the divorce or any details of their lives together.”
The Princess of Wales had already, infamously, made revelations about her marriage when she secretly filmed an interview with the BBC’s Panorama in 1995.
In contrast, Sarah Ferguson did not sign any confidentiality agreement when she divorced Prince Andrew that same year.
According to Tina Brown, Diana regarded Fergie as having been “stampeded into a rash decision” by the royal family over her divorce.
The Duchess of York received a much smaller sum than Diana, however her lack of confidentiality clause meant that she could go on to make media appearances and publish her autobiographies, from which she has earned an estimated £2.2million.