Elvis and Priscilla Presley: Why the Iconic Couple Got Divorced in 1973

by Atlanta Northcutt

Elvis and Priscilla Presley’s marriage is a legendary rock ‘n roll love story. However, the relationship was a rocky one that continued rolling right along until their divorce in 1973.

The love shared between the King and his Queen is unquestionable. The ex-wife and only marriage partner Elvis ever had was with her husband for many years. She celebrated his ups and stuck by him through his downs even after the marriage collapsed.

The two share a child, Lisa Marie Presley, which kept their communication open and friendly relationship alive until Elvis’ untimely death. However, following the birth of their daughter, the legendary couple divorced.

But why?

A Rock n’ Roll Love Story Between Elvis and Priscilla

When Priscilla and Elvis met in 1959, she was at the ripe young age of 14-years-old. He was serving in Germany as a member of the US armed forces when they fell in love at first sight. She left her family in Germany and moved to LA to be closer to her lover.

Four years after meeting one of the most famous and iconic men in the world, she came to live at his Memphis mansion, he named Graceland. After Priscilla moved in with Elvis, the couple quickly married in 1967.

The Presley’s Iconic Marriage Come to an End

The exact reason behind the couple’s separation is hard to pinpoint, but it appears as though many factors prevented Elvis and Priscilla from continuing on with a healthy and romantic marriage.

When most couples divorce, animosity begins to take over. Moreover, ex’s certainly don’t leave the divorce court together holding hands, smiling, and calmly chatting. However, that’s exactly what the Presley’s did. It solidified the fact that although they didn’t work as husband and wife, their mutual respect, care, and friendship withstood the loss of their marriage.

“I did not divorce him because I didn’t love him,” says Priscilla. “He was the love of my life, but I had to find out about the world.”

In February 1972, Priscilla left Elvis’ California home. She traded in the mansion to move into a quaint two-bedroom apartment. After nearly five years of marriage, the separation was finally official in October 1973. The two agreed to joint custody of their daughter.

Priscilla Presley Explains What It Was Like to Be the Queen

Priscilla says Elvis would speak to her in ways that didn’t ask her but instead, told her what to do. For example, she says her husband would often tell her things like “You need to apply more makeup around your eyes. Make them stand out more.”

“They’re too plain naturally,” he would allegedly continue. “I like a lot of makeup. It defines your features.”

She consistently dyed her hair in order to match his own black, slick-backed hair. At a young age, she was put into more adult and sometimes risqué clothing to bring out her sex appeal.

During an interview with Loose Women, Priscilla Presley explains, “I didn’t have my teenage years as a normal girl, obviously, so I had to adapt. So I just kind of followed what he did. I mean, you lived his life.”

“You saw the movies he wanted to see. You listened to the music he wanted to listen to, and you go to places that he would go,” the actress continues. “I honestly didn’t have my own life. So I really kind of lost myself.”

Karate Helps Priscilla Find Strength & Self-Love

Elvis was a big fan of karate, so he had Priscilla start taking classes of her own.

Mike Stone became her teacher. He had been recommended by Elvis to be Priscilla’s karate instructor.

“The training was incredibly exacting. Over and over we’d executive the same movement until perfected,” she writes in her memoir Elvis and Me. “Now I could understand Elvis’s enslavement to karate. It was an accomplishment, an achievement of confidence and physical master of self.”

Karate didn’t just lead to Priscilla’s physical strength, but it helped open her eyes to her suffering from negative emotional and mental health.

“I was confronted with the harsh realization that living the way I had for so long was very unnatural and detrimental to my well-being,” she says.

Moving Forward

The relationship between Stone and Priscilla Presley turned from a karate teacher-student relationship. She ended up having an affair with the man she had become close to after spending much time with him.

“Elvis was right,” she says. “Mike exuded confidence and style, as well as a good deal of personal charm and wit. A deep friendship would develop.”

“My relationship with Mike had now developed into an affair,” adds Presley.

After her divorce from Elvis, she received five percent of his publishing companies and half of what was earned by selling Beverly Hills home. She would also receive spousal and child support from her ex-husband. During the divorce settlement, the couple agreed on Priscilla being given $750,000 in cash.

She would receive spousal and child support from her ex-husband, who had the money to keep her comfortable due to his unmatched success in the entertainment industry.