History buffs and hist-rom readers alike know that adultery has traditionally been an accepted, even expected, feature of aristocratic life—and not just in the distant past, either. It’s rumored that during one of Charles and Diana’s blazing rows about his relationship with Camilla Parker-Bowles, Charles was heard to ask in disbelief, “Am I to be the first Prince of Wales without a mistress?”
Eventually, like generations of aristocratic wives before her, Diana took lovers of her own. What made the Prince and Princess of Wales different from so many royal couples was that their various and public infidelities led to divorce. In the past, most couples just chose to lead separate lives. Indeed, that’s still the case today with many royals (see: Princess Caroline of Monaco and Prince Ernst August of Hanover).