The divorce decree took five minutes, cost $31 and was finalized in a basement office. It was a far cry from the lavish 1981 wedding of the heir to the British throne and his beautiful shy bride that captivated millions around the world.
As of Wednesday, Diana instantly became one of the world’s most eligible women.
Prince Charles has his freedom, but Britain’s tabloids have given a thumbs down to his sometime lover Camilla Parker Bowles as a future queen.
The 15-year marriage of the Prince and Princess of Wales - which was never the fairy tale romance that headlines trumpeted at the time of the wedding - ended at 10:27 a.m. Wednesday when a legal clerk issued a decree that their divorce was now “absolute.”
It does not affect Charles’ succession to the throne. But his reputation and public standing have been severely damaged by the public failure of the marriage.
Chief clerk Robin West examined the divorce application in his narrow basement office - room M4 - in Somerset House in central London. It took him about five minutes to approve, and he put a red stamp on the piece of paper.
Charles and Diana were 500 miles apart for the momentous occasion.
The princess was in her apartment at Kensington Palace.
Charles escaped media attention at the royal family’s Balmoral estate in Scotland, where he is vacationing with their sons, Prince William, 14, and Prince Harry, 11.