THE ROYAL DIVORCE: From fairytale days to anni horribiles

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As the fairytale image of the royal marriage has been shattered, so public esteem for the monarchy has declined, writes Louise Jury.

The continuing onslaught of rumour, scandal and sleaze has wrecked an institution which had survived centuries. Every bout in the couple's feuding has dealt another blow to public respect for the royal family.

In 1984. when the pollsters Mori asked whether Britain would be better or worse off if the monarchy was abolished, 77 per cent of the population thought the country would be worse off.

By 1992, when the separation was announced, only 37 per cent showed loyalty to the beleaguered institution.

In 1987 when the first rumours of rifts in the marriage emerged, 63 per cent of those asked thought Britain would be worse off without the monarchy. By 1991, when it was reported that they no longer shared rooms on a state visit to Czechoslovakia, support had dropped to 50 per cent.

When the true state of the marriage emerged with the publication of Andrew Morton's book in 1992, it slumped further.

By the time Prince Charles admitted adultery in his television interview with Jonathan Dimbleby last year, public despair was clear. Sixty per cent of the population asked were unwilling to back the discredited institution.