To most of us on the outside of the Royal Family, Camilla Parker-Bowles once seemed like the “other woman” in the doomed romance between Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales. But over the years, we have learned a great deal about their relationship, mainly that it began long before Charles ever met Diana. These are some of the juiciest “secrets” that have come out over the years.
An instant attraction
Charles and Camilla met in 1971 through a mutual friend, Lucia Santa Cruz. There were rumors of a prior romance between Charles and Lucia, but both insist that isn’t true — Lucia was already dating her now husband when she met Charles. Charles was instantly smitten with Camilla, and apparently they hit it off right away.
Heartbreak for Prince Charles
Even though Charles and Camilla had an instant connection, the relationship wasn’t meant to be, at least at first. Camilla broke up with Charles just before he left for the Royal Navy, and when he returned, she was engaged to Army officer Andrew Parker Bowles, whom she had been dating (on and off) for years. She married him in 1973, and Charles began pursuing 18-year-old Diana Spencer in 1980 … but he and Camilla always stayed close.
Charles’ pre-wedding plea
Prince Charles was apparently heartbroken when Camilla called things off with him and accepted Andrew’s marriage proposal. In fact, the week before the wedding, he wrote Camilla a letter and begged her not to get married. But despite the fact that Andrew didn’t treat her very well and she did have feelings for Charles, the wedding went ahead as planned.
The missing wedding guest
Even though he was invited, Prince Charles declined to attend Camilla and Andrew’s wedding. He claimed it was due to another engagement, but most people believe it was because he couldn’t bear to watch the woman he loved marry someone else.
More wedding tears
On the night before his wedding to Princess Diana, Prince Charles reportedly watched the staff setting up for the big event and wept. He was still torn over his feelings for Camilla, and the enormity of his decision was sinking in.
There’s a slight but real chance Camilla and Charles are related
Turns out, Camilla isn’t the first one in her family to have an affair with a member of the Royal Family. Alice Keppel, Camilla’s great-grandmother, apparently had an ongoing affair with King Edward VII. Rumor has it that Keppel’s daughter, Sonia, may actually have been King Edward’s child. If this is true, that would make Charles and Camilla half-second cousins once removed.
Princess Diana did not want Camilla at her wedding
Apparently, Princess Diana heard Prince Charles talking sweetly to Camilla on the phone the day before her wedding. When she asked Charles if he still loved Camilla, he admitted that they were close friends, but that they were no longer intimate. Devastated, Diana expressed her remorse that Camilla was invited to their wedding, and she was apparently so fixated on Camilla that it made it difficult for her to enjoy her special day.
Charles’ wedding gift … to Camilla
In celebration of his wedding, Charles gifted a dozen of his closest friends, including Camilla, with presents. Camilla’s gift was a gold bracelet personalized with a blue enamel disk engraved with the initials ‘GF.’ The monogram stood for ‘Girl Friday,’ Charles’s nickname for his “friend.”
Camilla’s marriage was not a happy one
Camilla always loved her husband, Andrew Parker-Bowles, and aside from Prince Charles, she was loyal to him. However, Andrew didn’t show her the same respect — before they were married, he was also dating Charles’ sister, Princess Anne, and he had numerous affairs when he and Camilla were married. In fact, he often seduced her friends.
Camilla and Charles’ affair had three stages
In a book that was released earlier this year by Penny Junor, Britain’s top royal author, it was revealed that Camilla and Charles were not intimate the entire time they knew each other. In fact, their affair had three stages. The first was in 1971 when neither of them were married, the second was allegedly in the late 70s after Camilla’s daughter was born (this is unconfirmed), and the third was in 1986, when Charles and Diana’s marriage was beginning to truly break down.
Diana eventually confronted Camilla
Princess Diana cornered Camilla at Camilla’s sister’s 40th birthday party in 1989. She confronted her, told her she knew about the affair, and told Camilla not to treat her like she was stupid. Despite all this, Camilla and Charles carried on.
There are rumors of a secret love child between Camilla and Charles
Simon Charles Dorante-Day has claimed that he could very well be the biological child of Camilla and Charles. He has stated that research indicates Camilla and Charles became close in 1965, and then Camilla disappeared for at least nine months while Charles was sent to Australia. However, this directly contradicts the story of the two meeting in the early 1970s, which has been confirmed by many close friends. Plus, Simon lacks any sort of proof or real evidence.
The honeymoon from hell
As if Diana’s wedding day nightmare wasn’t bad enough, she soon realized the depth of her new husband’s feelings for Camilla when she and Charles were on their honeymoon cruise. She caught him wearing cuff links with Camilla’s initials, and carrying a photo of Camilla in his diary.
Diana had affairs as well
While Prince Charles was certainly wrong to cheat on his wife, it seems that Diana also went outside of the marriage. When it was clear that Charles had gone back to Camilla in 1986, Diana began a five year affair with her riding instructor, James Hewitt. There were rumors of other infidelities as well.
Camilla had a fling with Charles to make her boyfriend jealous?
It has been said that Camilla and Charles may not have gotten together at all had it not been for Camilla’s first husband, Andrew. If Andrew hadn’t had so many flings while he and Camilla were dating, she may never have had the first fling with Charles — which may have been a little bit about revenge for all of Andrew’s shenanigans.
Of course, Camilla and Charles clearly have a very deep and real love that has lasted for many decades. But it’s interesting to think about what might have been had Andrew only been faithful.