The love story between Camilla Parker Bowles and Charles, Prince of Wales, is one of history's messiest, complete with passion, betrayal, and scandal. But the fact remains: The relationship between Charles and Camilla has survived for decades. The small, seemingly minor details that define their relationship are useful windows into a touching, if controversial, royal romance.
Prince Charles and Camilla Shand - as she was known until 1973 - first entered one another's orbit in the early 1970s. Though they developed feelings for each other, Prince Charles and Camilla's young romance was interrupted by Charles's disinterest in settling down, as well as his service in the Royal Navy. Camilla then became engaged to Andrew Parker Bowles - Camilla's first husband - whom she had been dating on and off for years. Heartbroken, Charles eventually married Lady Diana Spencer, a 20-year-old aristocrat.
But Charles and Camilla couldn't shake each other, despite being married to other people. By the mid-1980s, Charles and Camilla had commenced their extramarital romance. Once news broke of Charles and Camilla's adultery, the scandal rocked the British monarchy and ended both of their marriages.
In 2005, Charles and Camilla finally tied the knot, demonstrating that their relationship has stood the test of time.
Queen Elizabeth II Gave A Touching Speech At Their Wedding Reception
Queen Elizabeth II allegedly kept her distance from Camilla for many years, even referring to her as "that wicked woman."
But the queen eventually came around and accepted Camilla as one of the family. Though she decided not to go to Camilla and Charles's civil wedding ceremony in 2005, she did join them for a religious blessing at St. George's Chapel and reception at Windsor Castle.
The queen gave a speech at the reception, comparing Charles and Camilla's relationship to a long, challenging steeplechase. Referencing specific obstacles in the Grand National race, Elizabeth said:
They have overcome Becher's Brook and The Chair and all kinds of other obstacles. They have come through and I'm very proud and wish them well. My son is home and dry with the woman he loves. Welcome to the winner's enclosure.95112Heartwarming?
For Charles, It Was Basically Love At First Sight
Though Camilla had feelings for Charles at the time, she was less idealistic than he was about their relationship. After all, she still loved Andrew Parker Bowles, her on-again, off-again boyfriend of several years. Shand and Parker Bowles got married in 1973.78115Heartwarming?
Charles Gave Camilla His Grandmother's Ring For Their Engagement
After decades of friendship and romance, Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles finally got engaged in 2005.
The engagement ring that Charles presented to Camilla had special meaning. Queen Elizabeth II apparently had given the ring to Charles. It previously belonged to his grandmother, the Queen Mother, who had passed in 2002.65100Heartwarming?
Charles Wooed Camilla With Love Letters - And Also Wrote a Letter Pleading With Her To Call Off Her First Wedding
When Prince Charles and Camilla Shand first began seeing each other in the 1970s, Charles sent her "elaborately worded love notes" to demonstrate his feelings for her, according to the BBC's History Extra.
But duty called, and Charles soon set sail for the Caribbean, leaving Camilla behind. In his absence, she became engaged to her on-again, off-again flame Andrew Parker Bowles. Devastated, Charles wrote Camilla, pleading with her to call off her wedding.
She didn't. Camilla Shand and Andrew Parker Bowles married on July 4, 1973.48110Heartwarming?