April 23, 1923:
Prince Albert, the Duke of York, marries Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon.The wedding rated only a corner of Page 2, but it seemed of little significance at the time. Prince Albert -- "Bertie" -- was private and withdrawn, the reverse of his flamboyant elder brother, Edward, Prince of Wales. But 13 years later, when King George V died, Edward took the throne only briefly, abdicating to marry an American divorcee. Bertie became, reluctantly, King George VI, and he and his consort had greatness thrust upon them. Together, they helped Britain rally against the Nazi onslaught. The King died at 57 in 1952 and his widow blamed the stress of his unsought duties for his early death. She lived another 50 years and, as the Queen Mother Elizabeth, maintained the Royal family's popularity through the dark days of Prince Charles's and Princess Diana's breakup and divorce and Diana's death.
May 6, 1960
Princess Margaret, Queen Elizabeth's younger sister, was a tragic figure. In the years after the Second World War, she fell in love with her father's equerry, the much-decorated fighter pilot Peter Townsend. Townsend, however, was a divorced man and the Church of England would not sanction a marriage. The princess chose duty over happiness, she and Townsend parted, and in time she married Anthony Armstrong-Jones, a photographer. The marriage ended in divorce 18 years later. Princess Margaret lived to 71, but her health was poor -- she was a lifelong smoker -- for much of her later years.
July 24, 1986
The marriage of Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, to Sarah Ferguson, looked likely to bring a breath of fresh air to the Royal Family, as Charles's marriage to Diana had done five years earlier. Indeed, "Fergie" and Diana were the toast of London in the '80s. But the Duchess of York was linked with other men while Andrew was away on family or military duties. The marriage broke down in 1992, at the same time Charles's and Diana's was falling apart, and the toll on Royal dignity was severe. The Yorks were divorced in 1996.
April 9, 2005
Prince Charles met Camilla Shand in 1970, at a polo match, and it is said he wanted to marry her. But his advisers warned the prince she "had a past," and was an unsuitable match. She married Andrew Parker Bowles in 1972, but the Charles-Camilla relationship blossomed again around 1980. As knowledge of it spread, Parker Bowles became known as "the man who laid down his wife for his country." And Princess Diana referred to Camilla, albeit in private, as "the Rottweiler." Ten years after the Wales's divorce and eight years after Diana's death, Charles and Camilla were married at Windsor Castle. Although Camilla is entitled to be called the Princess of Wales, she uses the title Duchess of Cornwall. When Charles takes the throne, she will have the title of Princess Consort.