Prince Charles: My marriage was a Greek tragedy
NEWLY-released letters written by Prince Charles to President Reagan’s late wife Nancy show the depths of his despair over life with Diana and many other intimate revelations.
It was an extraordinary relationship – and one that remained hidden from public view for over 40 years.
But it has now been revealed that from 1974 until her death in March last year, Prince Charles and Nancy Reagan, wife of former US President Ronald Reagan, enjoyed a deep friendship.
Letters released by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library in California have revealed that the heir to the throne confided in the First Lady for decades, opening his heart on issues including his relationship with Princess Diana, the death of his grandmother the Queen Mother and President Reagan’s battle against Alzheimer’s.
One of the letters, addressed to “My dear Nancy” in his trademark flowing fountain-pen script and written on Highgrove Househeaded notepaper describes his disintegrating marriage as “a kind of Greek tragedy”.
In an extraordinary outpouring of emotion, he writes: “No one can really understand what it all means until it happens to you which is why it all keeps getting worse and worse. One day I will tell you the whole story.”
Another letter claims that Charles confided to the wife of the UK Ambassador to Washington, Sir Nicholas Henderson: “I have fallen in love with Mrs Reagan – she is wonderful… I wanted to kiss her.”
Prince Charles first met the Reagans in 1974 when he was still in the Royal Navy and Ronald was Governor of California. He had been invited to a private dinner at the Palm Springs home of US Ambassador to Britain Walter Annenberg, along with Nancy and Ronald, and celebrities including Frank Sinatra and Bob Hope.
The pair hit it off immediately and 30 years later Charles reminisced to Nancy over those simpler times. He talks wistfully of “such fond and happy memories of those California days when we used to meet with the dear old Annenbergs…” That letter is dated June 6, 2004 – the day after the President’s death. It seems Charles’s first thought on hearing the news was of Nancy.
“I so wanted to write to say how much my heart goes out to you,” he writes. “I have minded so much for you ever since your husband became ill with that beastly Alzheimer’s as I can well imagine how souldestroying it must be to be unable to do anything to help…”
A fter their first meeting, Prince Charles’s friendship with the Reagans deepened through the following decades. In 1981, when engaged to Diana, he was a guest of the then-President and his wife at the White House.
So strong was the connection that he did not even wait to return to London to write – instead penning his thank-you note to the Reagans on the plane home. Headed “Airborne between Washington and the UK”, he writes of Nancy:
“I am a devoted admirer for life!” It was the same dinner that prompted Lady Henderson to write to Nancy herself, with the revelation that Charles confessed “I have fallen in love with Mrs Reagan.”
Four years later, Charles was once again a guest at the White House – this time with Diana. After a Presidential gala in which Nancy arranged for the Princess to dance with her “idol” John Travolta, Charles again put pen to paper to express his thanks. “Diana still hasn’t got over dancing with John Travolta, Neil Diamond and Clint Eastwood in one evening,” he enthuses.
“Not to mention the President of the United States as well!” The correspondence was not all happy, however – and many of the letters show how Charles saw the First Lady as a trusted and intimate confidante.
After a controversial warts-and-all biography of Nancy was published in 1991, alleging that she had been unfaithful to her husband, a highly emotional Charles wrote from Balmoral to express his support.
“I know exactly the methods these dreadful people employ to create the maximum amount of controversy and conflict by making the wildest allegations to make the maximum amount of money,” he said.
“We live in an increasingly uncivilised world and if you happen to find yourself in a public position it becomes progressively more impossible to operate without every move being regarded as having an ulterior motive.”
That same year, he confided to Nancy his fears over media and public interest in his own marriage:
“Apparently there are a whole series of ghastly books coming out in time for our 10th wedding anniversary – so you can imagine what they will contain.”
The following year he wrote again of his anguish, describing his marriage as a “Greek tragedy,” and adding that the “whole story” of their relationship “is so awful that few people who haven’t been witnesses would believe it”.
But perhaps the most touching of the correspondence concerns his grief over the death of the Queen Mother in 2002. “I have dreaded her eventual departure and now she leaves behind an enormous chasm in my life,” he writes. “I fear it has not been very easy to cope of late.”
The intimate correspondence has come to light thanks to the Reagans’ wishes that their papers should be available as an archive after their deaths – Nancy died at 94 last year. The letters reveal what Joanne Drake, the Foundation’s chief administrative officer, describes as a very special relationship:
“They shared the ups and downs of their lives. She felt a special closeness to him.”
Source: EXPRESS CO UK
Tags: Prince Charles, Princess Diana, Princess of Wales, Diana, Prince Charles Wedding, Diana Marriage