There are many locations around the world than begin to scramble when faced with the prospect of a severe snowstorm, but Shirakawa-go in Japan is not one of them. Dubbed the snowiest place in the world, Americans who live in the Great Lakes region may understand why.
While the Great Lakes produce what meteorologists call “Lake Effect” snow, Shirakawa-go is subject to “Ocean Effect” snow, as cooler air from Siberia absorbs moisture from the balmier Sea of Japan.
As these heavily saturated clouds pass over the high altitudes of the Japanese Alps, they veritable load of snow is dropped onto the thatched roofs of some of the most picturesque cottages you’ll find in the world.
Shirakawa-go is Japanese for “White River Village,” and it’s tucked into a sheltered valley high in the mountains. According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, the amount of snowfall the hamlet gets per year is truly astounding, as its average snowfall clocks in at over 35 feet per year.
Cut off from the surrounding region by the circle of mountains, Shirakawa-go developed a culture all of its own. Known for its signature architectural style, the locals had to figure out ways of building structures that could handle the weight of all the heavy snows.
The steeply thatched roofs have become the village’s calling card, appearing in photos depicting the charming winter town which continue to entice tourists into visiting. Many of the village’s huts have been standing for over 250 years.
As more tourists have flocked to the area for a quiet winter retreat, the older buildings have been repurposed into destinations like museums, guest houses, and restaurants. While trudging through the sheer amounts of snow that Shirakawa-go sees may be discouraging to some, the various accommodations are particularly cozy, plus the hospitality in the region is unparalleled.
His First Marriage
He is next in line to the British throne, and she was a true English rose. To the world, they would become the perfect couple, and she would make the perfect Queen one day. However, all was not to last for Prince Charles and Princess Diana. Before marrying his current wife, Camilla Parker Bowles, Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer, with whom he shared two children, Princes William and Harry. Their marriage ended in 1996 after 15 years together. Now, in a new explosive biography, the Prince of Wales reveals his real thoughts about marrying Diana.
No Happily Ever After In Sight
When their marriage came to an end in 1996, Princess Diana remained a national treasure but was no longer set to become the Queen of England one day. To many, she could do no wrong. She was a natural with the public, and she had a smile that enchanted many. But behind all the love she had for others, she failed to share that same love for her husband. Following their divorce, and the emergence of the details of their marriage, it became clear that the pair were never destined for one another.
Finding Mrs. Right
Before marrying Lady Diana Spencer, Prince Charles was considered one of the most eligible royal bachelors. Women everywhere were attracted to him, and his royal status just heightened his desirability. However, he seemed to be attracted to many ladies too and built up quite the reputation for having many ladies in his life. However, the fact he was next in line to the British throne meant that he needed the perfect lady by his side to join him.
Finding The One
Prince Charles previously dated Georgiana Russell, Lady Jane Wellesley, Davina Sheffield, and even Lady Sarah Spencer, Diana’s sister. Prince Charles, therefore, met Diana in 1977 but only became romantically linked to her three years later. Although she was 13 years his junior, she was young, pretty, and a desirable bride. Prince Phillip, Charles’ father, advised his son to decide on marriage to Diana following her heightened media attention and, without further delay, he proposed in February 1981. Meanwhile, not everyone believed this was true love, not even the couple themselves.
Diana had just recently turned 20 years old when she walked down the aisle to marry Prince Charles. A far cry away from what many other 20-year-olds would be doing at that age, Princess Diana had committed to becoming part of the British Royal family, and she managed to win over the British public. However, there was one person she wasn’t really able to ever win over, not even when they were getting married, and that was her own husband, Prince Charles.
One Major Problem
There was one major issue that concerned especially Diana, and that was another of Prince Charles’ former girlfriends – Camilla Shand. The reason their relationship did not work was that “Charles’ great-uncle Lord Mountbatten reportedly did not believe that Camilla was aristocratic enough to be the Prince of Wales’ wife.” While Diana certainly was, it seems that his love for Camilla never went away, not even while he was married, leading Diana to state: “Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.”
Diana Exposes All
After a whirlwind romance that resulted in marriage and welcoming two sons, William and Henry, the couple’s relationship began to break down after five years. It was clear that Prince Charles and Diana were incompatible, and the concern over Camilla Shand was damaging to their marriage. While they were dubbed “The Glums” by the press, it soon came to light that Prince Charles had been involved in an extramarital affair, which Diana herself exposed in the book Diana, Her True Story by Andrew Morton.
The Truth Revealed
In 1992, however, phone transcripts of a passionate conversation between Charles and Camilla were released by the press, which proved to the public that the Prince’s and Diana’s marriage was not going well. Behind the smiles, a marriage was falling apart. Prince Charles confirmed via a televised interview with Jonathan Dimbleby on June 29, 1994, that he rekindled his relationship with Camilla in 1986 after his relationship with Diana had “irretrievably broken down.” However, the Royal couple only formally separated in 1992.
Different Approaches To Love
Diana recalled clear signs from early on. “He said: ‘Will you marry me?’ and I laughed. I remember thinking, ‘This is a joke,’ and I said: ‘Yeah, OK,’ and laughed. He was deadly serious. He said: ‘You do realize that one day you will be Queen.’ And a voice said to me inside: ‘You won’t be Queen but you’ll have a tough role.’ So I thought ‘OK,’ so I said: ‘Yes.’ I said: ‘I love you so much, I love you so much.’ He said: ‘Whatever love means.”‘
Not Having The Best Day Of Her Life
Things only worsened from there for the couple and, even on their wedding day, it was proving not to be the best day of their lives. Diana recalled to Andrew Morton exactly how she was feeling the night before 750 million people around the world watched what they believed to be her ‘fairytale wedding.’ “The night before the wedding I was very, very calm, deathly calm. I felt I was a lamb to the slaughter. I knew it and couldn’t do anything about it,” she recalled.
Why Am I Here?
If Diana just thought she was getting cold feet the night before, things were not looking hopeful the day of her wedding to Prince Charles. While the world tuned in to watch what they believed to be a true fairytale wedding, the bride herself was wondering why exactly she was there. Diana allegedly told James Hewitt, her later lover, “As I was walking down the aisle of St. Paul’s on my father’s arm, I thought, ‘What on Earth am I doing here?’”
Hiding Behind The Smiles
Regardless of their true feelings at the time of their marriage, their wedding was truly a spectacle. As Royal tradition went, newlywed couples went to the balcony of Buckingham Palace, along with the rest of their family, and shared their first kiss in public as a married couple. Prince Charles and Princess Diana were no different and managed to look like they were totally in love with another. While all smiles, and sharing a kiss, the public were none the wiser to know how they were really feeling.
Not Looking Hopeful
While their wedding day was not as they expected for their fairytale, nor how people perceived it, the couple embarked on a honeymoon like many newlyweds. However, if anyone thought that one of their most romantic holidays would have helped fix this relationship, then they were sure to be proven wrong. The Princess of Wales allegedly told healer Simone Simmons in Diana: I’m Going To Be Me: The People’s Princess Revealed In Her Own Words, “I was bored, it was like being stuck with an 80-year-old man.”
All About The Ring
Something that Princess Diana did truly love about her marriage was the sapphire engagement ring that Prince Charles proposed with. Although it had some sort of royal history, Diana chose the ring herself, and it set Charles back $37,000. However, some people were displeased with the future king’s choice, since it was a ring that featured in a Garrard catalog. As tradition goes, it was unheard of for a future royal, let alone one marrying a future king, to wear a wedding ring that was “accessible” to the general public.
After Diana tragically passed away, her beloved jewels were inherited by her sons Prince Williams and Prince Harry, including her famous engagement ring. She wrote, “I would like you to allocate all my jewelry to the share to be held by my sons, so that their wives may, in due course, have it or use it. I leave the exact division of the jewelry to your discretion.” Thirteen years later, the ring was seen again after Prince William proposed to Kate Middleton with it.
The Queen Has Her Say
The couple’s divorce was finalized in August 1996, after the Queen initially sent letters to the Prince and Princess of Wales, advising them to divorce. This came after years of extramarital affairs from both parties and proved to be a very good decision. While it became publicly known that the Prince had engaged in an affair, it also became known that the Princess too was having an affair. In 1992, tape recordings of the Princess and James Gilbey were made public and it became widely known as “Squidgygate.”
While her marriage to the Prince of Wales was not to last, that did not mean Diana did not continue being the “People’s Princess.” The nation adored Diana and would continue to do so whether she was married to Prince Charles or not. Diana proved she did not need a man in her life to be happy, and she even told BBC’s Martin Bashir in 1995, “People think that, at the end of the day, a man is the only answer. Actually, a fulfilling job is better for me.”
An Untimely Death
A year after their divorce, Diana, Princess of Wales, was involved in a car crash in Paris, which ultimately led to her untimely death. The nation’s Princess had died, and her funeral became a televised event. Meanwhile, while the world watched on to see their beloved Princess laid to rest, it was the sight of her children that really tugged at people’s heartstrings. Prince William and Prince Harry were filmed alongside their father following their mother’s coffin, with the Queen nowhere in sight.
The Tragic Grief
Prince Charles and Diana may not have been able to make a life with one another, but a love they did share was one for their two boys. Prince William and Prince Harry were 15 and 12 respectively when their mother passed away and experienced grief like no other. While they appeared alongside their father at the funeral, it took the brothers many years to finally speak openly about their mother’s passing. Nowadays, they use their experience in hope to help others in a similar position.
Can’t Escape It
As a family whose lives are very much in the public eye, it is hard for the Royals to escape the stories about themselves. “I still find it difficult now because at the time it was so raw. And also it is not like most people’s grief, because everyone else knows about it, everyone knows the story, everyone knows her. It is a different situation for most people who lose someone they love, it can be hidden away or they can choose if they want to share their story.”
Breaking The News
Before the burial of Princess Diana, Prince Charles spent some days in Scotland. With Diana’s death causing mass media coverage, Prince Charles kept a low profile and even questioned when was best to reveal the sad news to his sons. With the news of her death being received in the middle of the night, Prince Charles wondered whether to wake up his sons or wait until the morning to tell them. It was the Queen who suggested that the boys be left to sleep.
The Blame Is Put On Charles
During the time of Diana’s death, Prince Charles was already with Camilla Shand. Initially, they kept their relationship quiet since they were worried about the public reaction. After all, the nation loved Diana and was never going to approve of Prince Charles’ mistress during their marriage. Even when she died, the Prince knew that the public would blame him. Along with many other conspiracy theories, many people blame Prince Charles and his extramarital affair for being the reason Diana, Princess of Wales, died.
A Troubling Period
At the time, news broke that Dodi Fayed, the Princess’ boyfriend at the time and fellow passenger in the car, had died. At this point in time, everyone else, including Prince Charles, believed that Princess Diana was still alive. Although his mother, the Queen, was in a room just meters away from Charles, they did not go to over to each other to speak. It was his staff who worked out how the Prince could get to Paris the quickest, to which the obvious answer would be to use the Queen’s Flight.
The One Who Was There For Him
It seems that the Queen’s absence around the time of Diana’s tragic death took its toll on the newly single-father, Prince Charles. While many blamed the Royal family for the death of Diana, this was also a period when Charles needed his mother rather than a monarch. After both Charles and Camilla believed that Diana had just gotten a broken arm, they were both shocked when details emerged of her death. Even though it was late, the pair stayed up speaking on the phone for hours.
The Queen Keeping True To Their Brand
In fact, Charles’ affair, or affairs as Diana believed, were the cause for such embarrassment for the Royal family. While the Queen was fond of Camilla when she was married to Andrew Parker Bowles, it was Camilla who they held responsible for all the troubles and setbacks Charles faced during his marriage to Diana. The Queen wanted her out of Prince Charles’ life, but he made it perfectly clear that, after a troubled 15-year marriage, Camilla was a non-negotiable part of his life.
Something She Hasn’t Got
The Queen was not the only one to disapprove of Prince Charle’s budding romance with Camilla. While they have proven to have a very successful relationship since going public, Diana certainly could not see what her ex-husband saw in Camilla. “Charles must be wearing beer goggles to have an affair with Camilla,” Diana allegedly told her hair stylist, Richard Dalton. While Diana appeared to be the “People’s Princess,” Camilla still won over her real-life Prince Charming, and she won the love and affection from Charles that Diana never got.
The Prince’s Turn
The couple continued their relationship, and eventually married. While they were a couple who went against Royal protocol, they have since proven that they were a couple that was meant to be together. In fact, their marriage has proven that they have a relationship that is a far cry away from the one Prince Charles and Diana had. While Diana made her views on her former marriage clear when she was alive, Prince Charles is now shedding light on his marriage to the People’s Princess.
It Wasn’t Only Diana Having Cold Feet
Royal biographer, Penny Junor, penned another book in 2017 titled, The Duchess: The Untold Story. While the book follows the life of Camilla, with interviews with the Duchess herself and her friends, Junor was focused on revealing what happened during Charles’ first marriage. Having been half the focus of one of the biggest weddings in history, Junor was keen to discover how Charles felt on his big day. According to the author, Charles actually broke down the night before he was due to marry Diana.
Defending His Actions
Their initial relationship lasted only six months, but Prince Charles considered his romance with Camilla to be “such a blissful, peaceful, and mutually happy relationship.” When she was set to say her “I do’s” to Parker Bowles, Charles pleaded with his former lover not to go through with the marriage. That was not enough to stop the pair falling in love years later and, Charles reportedly once said, “Do you seriously expect me to be the first Prince of Wales in history not to have a mistress?”
He Couldn’t Hide His True Love
Diana was not wrong for having her suspicions during her marriage, and the Prince of Wales certainly did not help himself. “It’s hard to believe that anyone as intelligent and well-read as the Prince of Wales could be so stupid—so utterly incapable of imagining what a new wife might conclude if her husband carried a photograph of his old girlfriend in his diary,” Junor says. The author claims Charles carried a picture of Camilla in his diary, which one day slipped out in front of Diana.
Suffering The Consequences
The nation turned on Prince Charles for his affair, even his own mother, but Camilla also felt the brunt of enduring an extramarital affair with the People’s Princess’ husband. After news of their affair had broken, Camilla found herself in the center of an intense media storm. “It was horrid. It was a deeply unpleasant time, and I wouldn’t want to put my worst enemy through it,” she admitted to the Mail on Sunday in 2017. “I couldn’t have survived it without my family.”
The Pressures From His Father
After being denied the opportunity to initially marry Camilla, Prince Charles found himself in a position where he felt he had to propose to Diana. Looking back at their romance, everyone wonders how there could have been any glamorous fairytale ending to this love story. However, the only reason the pair got engaged to begin with was that Prince Phillip said so. In a moment of panic, the Prince did as he was told and went ahead with marrying Diana.
He Was Too Young
Prince Charles’ cousin, Pamela Hicks, claims she read the letter that Prince Phillip sent his son. In the 2017 biography, Prince Charles: Paradoxes of an Improbable Life, she stated, “He wasn’t in love, he wasn’t ready. He saw it as a ghastly threat. Psychologically he assumed his father bullied him, so he read it as a bullying letter.” While the couple remained officially married for 11 years following their marriage, it seems that, even from the beginning, Prince Charles did not want to be involved in this union.
Love For The Country Or Your Bride?
With his proud sense of duty for the country, Prince Charles went ahead with what became the wedding of the decade. Speaking of his wedding day three months later, he said, “We still cannot get over what happened that day. Neither of us can get over the atmosphere; it was electric, I felt, and so did my wife … It made us both extraordinarily proud to be British.” The atmosphere may have been great, but perhaps that is not what most newlyweds should be noticing.
Not The Most Flattering Compliment
Preferably, when a couple becomes husband and wife, they look back at the day as the best day of their lives, and as a day their love became official. Prince Charles, however, spoke about how proud they were to be British. While there were a staggering number of people in the audience on the big day, this should have been less important than marrying the love of your life. It seems Prince Charles was just fulfilling his duty as future King, rather than getting his happily ever after.