There's a reason why the Netflix series The Crown is so popular: because rich and famous people being miserable is simply great entertainment. As rich and famous families go, few are as controversial and scandalous as the Windsors, and few Windsors are as controversial as Prince Charles. He's been a member of the public eye since his birth in 1948, and his romantic life has always been a subject of scrutiny. Camilla Parker-Bowles is the great love of his life, but in the 1970's she was considered too much of a "commoner" for him to marry. Still a bachelor in his 30's and under pressure to produce an heir, Charles reluctantly married Diana Spencer in 1981. But Camilla never truly left Charles's life.
Charles and Diana's marriage was famously rocky, but his relationship with Camilla was just as tumultuous. Here are all the details about Charles and Camilla's stormy history.
Charles And Camilla Ended Their First Affair When He Married Diana (Probably)
Prince Charles first met Diana Spencer in 1977. They started dating in 1980, and by February 1981 they were engaged.
But what were Charles and Camilla up to during these years? Like many details about their relationship, the truth depends on whom you ask. Officially, Charles and Camilla stopped seeing each other romantically when Charles married Diana in July of 1981.
Charles's history with Camilla, and their continuing closeness, definitely caused friction in his relationship with Diana. Charles insisted that Diana was the only woman for him. But Diana remained suspicious of Camilla's intentions. She later told Andrew Morton that she considered Charles and Camilla to be having an emotional affair during this period.
Camilla Encouraged Charles' Relationship With Diana
When Charles began seeing Diana, he encouraged everyone to be friends. Camilla apparently liked Diana and thought she was "sweet and cute." But Camilla's ex-brother-in-law, Richard Parker-Bowles claims that Camilla's intentions toward Diana weren't so friendly. According to Richard, Camilla only approved of the relationship because she thought Diana was young, inexperienced, and controllable.
For her part, Diana understood where she stood with Camilla. "I was introduced to the circle, but I was a threat," she told journalist Andrew Morton. "I was a very young girl, but I was a threat."
Charles Gave Camilla A Special Bracelet Right Before He Married Diana
Shortly before his marriage to Diana, Prince Charles really did give Camilla Parker-Bowles a custom-designed bracelet with the initials "F" and "G," which stood for their nicknames for each other, "Fred" and "Gladys." But according to royal biographer Penny Junor, this wasn't exactly a sign that the Prince of Wales had a conflicted heart. Charles apparently gave jewelry to multiple women he'd had relationships with before Diana, as a way of saying "thank you."
The discovery of the bracelet still made Diana jealous, like it did on the show.
Charles And Camilla's Second Affair Started In 1986
By the middle of the 1980s, Charles's marriage to Diana was decidedly unhappy. He and Camilla resumed their affair. In Charles's authorized biography, Sally Bedell Smith puts this in 1986, when Charles and Diana's relationship was "irretrievably broken down."
As you'd imagine, it's difficult to keep your affair secret when you're one of the most famous people in the world. Charles and Camilla sometimes had their rendezvous in the homes of discreet friends. But often, their meetups were basically out in the open. One friend recalled that one moment Diana would leave home with their boys, and the next moment Camilla would arrive.