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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Quiet Beginning to a Royal Ending

LONDON -- Prince Charles was granted a preliminary decree of divorce from Princess Diana, and should be free of the bonds of marriage within six weeks.

It was one of 31 divorce cases handled in a brief morning session -- "to all intents and purposes, a bit of a non-event," said court manager Robin West. The couple paid the standard fee of ?80 pounds ($125).

Twenty-eight journalists showed up for the hearing, but the couple did not. Charles was in Brunei for the 50th birthday celebrations of the sultan. Diana was believed to be preparing for a vacation.

The granting of a "decree nisi" came exactly two weeks before the couple's 15th anniversary. Nisi, Latin for "unless," indicates the decree will become permanent unless the parties reconcile or a third party challenges the proceeding. The divorce is expected to become final Aug. 28.

As the Waleses, Charles and Diana were at the bottom of an alphabetical list of divorces handled by Judge Gerard Angel of the Family Division of the High Court. The certificate of decree nisi lists the prince as petitioner and the princess as respondent.

"On the 15th day of July, 1996, the judge held that the petitioner and respondent have lived apart for a continuous period of at least two years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition, that the respondent consents to a decree being granted."

In an affidavit to the court and later released to the press, Charles said, "Both myself and the respondent recognized there were irreconcilable differences and that accordingly we could no longer live together."

Asked to state the date and circumstances in which he came to the conclusion the marriage was at an end, he said: "An official announcement was made by the prime minister in November 1993 to announce the separation. This reflected my own belief that the marriage was at an end."

Charles got the date wrong, however. Prime Minister John Major made the announcement Dec. 9, 1992.