Meilan Solly in Smithsonian:
When Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer exchanged vows on July 29, 1981, the archbishop officiating the ceremony declared, “Here is the stuff of which fairy tales are made—the prince and princess on their wedding day.” Departing from the standard storybook ending of “they lived happily ever after,” he continued, “Our [Christian] faith sees the wedding day not as the place of arrival, but the place where the adventure really begins.”
For the 32-year-old heir to the British throne and his 20-year-old bride, this assessment proved eerily prescient. Idolized by an adoring public, the newly minted Princess Diana found herself thrust into the spotlight, cast as Cinderella to Charles’ Prince Charming. But beneath this mirage of marital bliss, the royal family was in crisis—a history dramatized in the fourth season of Netflix’s “The Crown,” which follows Elizabeth II (Olivia Colman) and Prince Philip (Tobias Menzies) as they navigate the events of 1979 to 1990, from Charles’ (Josh O’Connor) courtship of Diana (Emma Corrin) to Margaret Thatcher’s (Gillian Anderson) tenure as prime minister and the Falklands War.
Looming over the season, too, is the eventual dissolution of Charles and Diana’s relationship. The prince remained enamored with his ex-girlfriend, Camilla Parker Bowles, and in 1986, when Charles decided that his marriage had “irretrievably broken down,” the former couple embarked on an affair. Diana also started seeing other men, and the royals formally divorced in 1996 after a four-year separation. One year later, the beloved princess died in a car crash. Ahead of the new episodes’ arrival this Sunday, November 15, here’s what you need to know about arguably the most anticipated event of the season: the royal wedding.