Princess Diana’s close friend, Jemima Khan, described the royal’s marriage to Prince Charles as “as close to arranged as you could get,” in a recent television interview.
The comments from Khan come as Prince Harry recently faced backlash for suggesting that the male members of his family married women who fit “the mould” rather than someone they are “destined to be with.”
Khan, the ex-wife of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Kahn, and Diana were long-time friends before the princess’ untimely death at the age of 36 in a 1997 Paris car crash. Diana had visited Khan in Pakistan on a number of visits, around the time she was involved in a serious relationship with Pakistani heart surgeon Hasnat Khan.
Appearing on the Lorraine morning show in Britain on Tuesday, Jemima Kahn discussed Diana and her marriage in the context of her newly produced movie What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Starring Emma Thompson, Lily James and Shazad Latif, the movie explores the subject of arranged marriages in the form of a cross-cultural romantic comedy.
“When we think about arranged marriage—your friend, Princess Diana—that was arranged really, wasn’t it?” asked show host Lorraine Kelly in reference to the princess’ 1981 marriage to the then-Prince Charles when she was just 20 years old.
“Pretty much,” Khan said. “I mean as close to arranged as you could get, in that it was an appropriate match chosen by the parents and a sort of committee of family members. The royal family used to pretty much always have arranged marriages. And it’s still the majority in the world.”
Khan highlighted the clear difference between “arranged marriages” which have the consent of both bride and groom, and “forced marriage” which she says “has no place in the modern world.”
According to Diana’s biographer Andrew Morton, the princess described herself as a being like a “lamb to slaughter” before her wedding day, despite being in love with her future husband.
Charles and Diana separated officially in 1992 and divorced in 1997 just a year before her tragic death. The prince married his long-term partner Camilla Parker Bowles in 2005, with whom he had an affair during his marriage to Diana.
Charles and Camilla had maintained a close friendship since they briefly dated in the 1970s, with a number of commentators suggesting a royal marriage didn’t take place then because Camilla wasn’t deemed a suitable match for the future king.
Prince Harry referenced suitability and the role it has played in the marriage matches of royal family members during his recently released Netflix docuseries Harry & Meghan.
In the context of his relationship with Meghan Markle being a love match, the prince told viewers: “For so many people in the [royal] family, especially obviously the men, there can be a temptation or urge to marry someone who fits in the mould, as opposed to somebody who you are perhaps destined to be with.”
He went on to draw comparisons between himself and his mother who he said made decisions with her “heart.”
“The difference between making decisions with your head, or your heart. And my mom made most of her decisions, if not all of them, from her heart. And I am my mother’s son,” he said.
Harry sparked backlash for the remarks as royal commentators and social media users suggested that it implied his brother Prince William, who has been a main target of criticism in Harry’s recent media releases, was among the men who chose a bride who “fits the mould.”
Last year marked the 25th anniversary of Diana’s death with both Harry and William paying separate tributes to their mother throughout the year.
At a polo event before the August 31 memorial date, Harry said he wished the princess could have met his two children, Archie, 3, and Lilibet, 1.
James Crawford-Smith is Newsweek’s royal reporter based in London. You can find him on Twitter at @jrcrawfordsmith and read his stories on Newsweek’s The Royals Facebook page.
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