The Crown reveals how Prince Charles wooed Diana after meeting ‘amusing, attractive’ 16-year-old while dating her sister

THEIR love story went from fairytale to heartbreak in just a few short years, but Prince Charles and Princess Diana were once head over heels.

And now their doomed relationship is playing out in stark detail in the new series of The Crown.

The Netflix show follows their romance from the very start, as Charles woos the then-Lady Spencer, before popping the question and tying the knot in front of the world.

But how exactly did he win her heart?

From being introduced by her "Cupid sister" – who Charles also briefly dated – to him 'following her around like a puppy', the pair are said to have enjoyed a whirlwind start to their partnership.

Here we look at where it all began…

Sister act

While many romances start off in unconventional ways, Charles and Diana's took it to a whole new level – as they met while he was dating her sister Sarah.

Charles was invited to Althorp, the Spencer family home, by Sarah in November 1977.

According to Tatler, the pair only had a short relationship, however, with Sarah reportedly telling reporters she wouldn't marry the prince "if he were the dustman or the King of England".

It was far from love at first sight for Diana, who was 16 at the time, and according to biographer Andrew Morton – who penned Diana: Her True Story – her first impression was, "God what a sad man".

It was different for Charles though and in an engagement interview in 1981, he reportedly said: "I remember thinking what a very jolly and amusing and attractive 16-year-old she was. I mean, great fun, and bouncy and full of life and everything."

When the couple announced their engagement that year, Sarah reportedly said: "I introduced them, I'm Cupid."

'He was all over me'

The pair didn't meet properly again for three more years – when they were invited to stay at Philip de Pass's house in Sussex in 1980.

"He’d just broken up with his girlfriend and his friend Mountbatten had just been killed. I said it would be nice to see him," Diana told her speech coach, on a tape used in the Channel 4 documentary Diana: In Her Own Words.

"We were talking about Mountbatten and his girlfriend and I said, ‘You must be so lonely'. I said, ‘It’s pathetic watching you walking up the aisle with Mountbatten’s coffin in front, ghastly, you need someone beside you'.

"Whereupon he leapt upon me, started kissing me, and I thought, urgh, this is not what people do. He was all over me for the rest of the evening, following me around – a puppy.

"I was flattered, but it was very puzzling."

'The thrill when he used to ring up was so immense'

The pair grew closer from there, but Diana revealed in the tapes that the start was difficult – as they relied largely on phone calls.

“He wasn’t consistent with his courting abilities," she said. "He’d ring me up every day for a week and then he wouldn’t speak to me for three weeks, very odd.

“And I’d accepted that and I thought fine, he knows where I am if he wants me.

“And then the thrill when he used to ring up was so immense and intense, drive the other three girls in my flat crazy. But no, it was all, it was odd.”

In fact, it's widely reported the pair only met around 13 times before he popped the question.

A real life fairytale wedding

The couple delighted the world when they announced they were engaged in February, 1981.

Buckingham Palace said in a statement: "It is with the greatest pleasure that the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh announce the betrothal of their beloved son, the Prince of Wales, to the Lady Diana Spencer, daughter of the Earl Spencer and the Honourable Mrs Shand Kydd."

And according to The Guardian, Charles told BBC Radio of his decision: "She had planned to go to Australia quite a long time before anyway with her mother and I thought 'well I'll ask her then so that she'll have a chance of thinking it over when she's away and saying I can't bear the whole idea – or not, as the case may be'."

Luckily, Diana said yes "more or less straight away".

Asked how she was feeling about taking on the royal role, Diana said: "Well, naturally it is quite daunting, but I hope it won't be too difficult, and with Prince Charles beside me I can't go wrong."

Not all their interviews at the time were a walk in the park, however, and Diana reportedly told her biographer of a "ghastly" interview in which they were asked: "Are you in love?”

"I thought what a thick question so I said, ‘Yes, of course we are,’ in the sort of Sloane Ranger I was, and Charles turned round and said, ‘Whatever in love means’," she recalled.

"That threw me completely. I thought what a strange question and answer. God. Absolutely traumatised me."

The couple went on to marry in St Paul's Cathedral on July 29, 1981.

The ceremony was broadcast around the world and watched by around 750 million people.

They later welcomed their children, Prince William and Prince Harry.

However, cracks began to show in their relationship a few years on, and they ultimately split, before Diana's tragic death in 1997.

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