Princess Diana, Charles’ Second Honeymoon in Real Life


  • The first episode of “The Crown” season five shows Princess Diana and Charles on summer vacation.
  • The Italy trip, known as their “second honeymoon,” happened in real life.
  • However, there were some differences between the show’s portrayal and the actual event.

“The Crown” returned to Netflix on Wednesday, and the historical drama opens its fifth season with Prince Charles and Diana’s “second honeymoon” that ends in disaster. 

In episode one, titled “Queen Victoria Syndrome,” which takes place in the summer of 1991, Charles (Dominic West) and Diana (Elizabeth Debicki) sail on a private yacht around Italy with their children and a group of family friends. 

The vacation, which Diana and Charles refer to as a “second honeymoon” in the episode, begins with the couple smiling and posing for photographs before departing on their journey.

The couple appear to have tension from the outset of the episode, as they initially debate over which activities to partake in during their trip. Things end in disaster, as Charles tells Diana he has to cut the trip short due to scheduling conflicts — which leads to a heated argument between the pair.

How the show’s portrayal of Charles and Diana’s Italy vacation compared to real life

Charles and Diana did go on a vacation to Italy in August 1991, although little is known about the private details of the trip. 

It is true that the couple were accompanied by Prince William and Prince Harry, as shown in photos published by Reuters and Shutterstock in August 1991 and again by People in October 2021.

In the show, Debicki is dressed similarly to how Diana dressed in the Shutterstock photos, wearing a floral dress and sunglasses.  

Charles and Diana swimming

Princess Diana and Prince Charles swim in the Tyrrenian Sea off the coast of Sardinia on August 11, 1991.


According to the Shutterstock photo captions, the couple boarded the Alexandra Yacht and the trip was in celebration of Charles and Diana’s 10th wedding anniversary, described as a “second honeymoon.”

Charles and Diana were also joined by his cousin, Norton Knatchbull, his wife Penny Knatchbull, and their children Alexandra and Leonora, who was said to be in cancer remission during the episode.

Prince Charles and Penny Romsey

Prince Charles and Penny Romsey at a polo match in 1979.

Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

In real life, Leonora died at the age of 5 in October 1991 — less than two months after the vacation — according to an article published in The Herald Scotland at the time. 

According to the article, Leonora’s condition became worse shortly after returning home from their “summer Mediterranean cruise” with the Prince and Princess of Wales. Diana visited Leonora in the hospital before she died, The Herald reports. 

It’s unclear if the couple thought of the trip as a ‘second honeymoon’ in real life

The trip was referred to as a “second honeymoon” by the press at the time, although it’s unclear whether the couple thought of it with the same sentimentality.

Kinsey Schofield, a royal commentator, told Insider that Diana would have only used this term to describe the time period during which Prince Harry was conceived and before his birth, on September 15, 1984.

“It was a much happier time for the couple than the pregnancy of William,” Kinsey, founder of “To Di For Daily,” told Insider.

In audio tapes of Diana that were shared in the documentary “Diana: In Her Own Words,” after her death, the princess described the time before Harry’s birth as “the closest we’ve ever, ever been and the closest we’ll ever be.”

In addition, it is not known whether Charles cut the trip short in real life. Nonetheless, the couple were known to be going through a difficult time, and the trip was thought to have been a “breaking point” in their marriage, People’s Stephanie Petit reported.

It was also one of their final trips before they announced their separation in 1992, Vanity Fair reports. They divorced in 1996, one year before Diana died. 

Buckingham Palace did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

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