The couple married in July 1981 and had formally separated by 1992. Then, after four years of separation and increasingly rising tensions, the pair officially divorced in August of 1996.
Diana died almost exactly a year later in August 1997 in a tragic car accident in Paris. Just a month before she died, however, Diana apparently had a change of heart about her ex.
According to royal biographer, Tina Brown, author of The Diana Chronicles, the late royal confessed to her during a meeting that summer that she would have gone back to Charles “in a heartbeat,” if he had been interested.
In a recent interview with The Telegraph, Brown explained:
“At the end of Diana’s life, she and Charles were on the best terms they’d been on for a very long time. Charles got into the habit of dropping in on her at Kensington Palace and they would have tea and a sort of rueful exchange. They even had some laughs together.”
“It was definitely calming down, the boys were older. They talked about their philanthropies. And she had accepted Camilla [Parker Bowles]. One thing she had finally done was really understand that Camilla was the love of his life, and there was just nothing she could do about it. But she said to me at that lunch that she would go back to Charles in a heartbeat if he wanted her.”
Of course, even if Diana hadn’t tragically passed away later that year, the odds of a reconciliation were slim to none. Charles was, as Brown noted, happily in a relationship with Camilla, who he would go on to wed in 2005.
This article originally appeared on marie claire US.