- 1 1970: When Prince Charles and Camilla First Meet
- 2 1973: Camilla Marries Andrew Parker Bowles
- 3 1981: Prince Charles Marries Lady Diana Spencer
- 4 1986: The Affair Between Charles and Camilla Resumes
- 5 1989: Diana Confronts Camilla
- 6 1993: Camillagate
- 7 1995 & 1996: His and Her Divorces
- 8 1999: Testing the Waters
In 2005, the Prince of Wales married his longtime love, Camilla Parker Bowles. The marriage of Prince Charles and Camilla was the culmination of a love affair that spanned four decades, scandalizing England, the greater world, and Queen Elizabeth II herself. However, after surviving divorces, the tragic death of Princess Diana, and public ridicule, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall have emerged as a strong team, at the precipice of leading the British royal family into the future. A timeline of Prince Charles and Camilla’s tumultuous relationship proves that sometimes royals get their own fairy-tale ending.
1970: When Prince Charles and Camilla First Meet
In the summer of 1970, the fun-loving 24-year-old debutante Camilla Shand reportedly met 22-year-old Prince Charles at a polo match at Great Windsor Park. Legend has it that she quipped to him, “My great-grandmother was the mistress of your great-great-grandfather, so how about it?”
For Prince Charles, it was allegedly love at first sight, and the couple began a relationship that he has described as “blissful, peaceful, and mutually happy.” However, forces were pulling the young couple apart, and they eventually broke up.
1973: Camilla Marries Andrew Parker Bowles
After years of sporadic dating, Camilla Shand married debonair Army Cavalry officer Andrew Parker Bowles in 1973. They had two children, Laura and Tom.
1981: Prince Charles Marries Lady Diana Spencer
On July 29, 1981, Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer before a television audience of 750 million people. But according to Princess Diana, the wedding festivities were dampened when, days before the nuptials, she discovered a gift Prince Charles had made for Camilla. It was a gold bracelet, with a charm engraved with the letters F and G, which stood for Fred and Gladys, Prince Charles and Camilla’s pet names for each other.
1986: The Affair Between Charles and Camilla Resumes
Unable to stay away from each other, and unhappy in their respective marriages, Prince Charles and Camilla reportedly began having an affair in 1986. Prince Charles later admitted to cheating on Princess Diana but only after their marriage had “irretrievably broken down, us both having tried.”
1989: Diana Confronts Camilla
In 1989, Princess Diana confronted Camilla about the affair at a birthday party, in what she called one of her bravest moments. “I said, ‘I know what’s going on between you and Charles, and I just want you to know that,’” Princess Diana told Andrew Morton. “She said to me: ‘You’ve got everything you ever wanted. All the men in the world fall in love with you, and you’ve got two beautiful children, what more do you want?’ So I said, ‘I want my husband.’”
In 1993, The Sunday Mirror and People published transcripts of a private 1989 phone call between Prince Charles and Camilla. The lurid conversation featured sexual banter between the two, including Prince Charles musing, “Oh, God. I’ll just live inside your trousers or something. It would be much easier!” He then joked that he might be transformed into her tampon.
1995 & 1996: His and Her Divorces
Her affair with Prince Charles exposed to the world, Camilla and Andrew Parker Bowles divorced in 1995. One year later, in 1996, the divorce between Prince Charles and Princess Diana was finalized. For Camilla, it brought some relief from years of extreme public scrutiny.
“I was scrutinized for such a long time that you just have to find a way to live with it,” Camilla told British Vogue in June. “Nobody likes to be looked at all the time and, you know, criticized and…But I think in the end, I sort of rise above it and get on with it. You’ve got to get on with life.”
1999: Testing the Waters
After Princess Diana’s tragic death in 1997, plans to slowly introduce Camilla to the public were put on hold. In January 1999, the two were finally photographed together in public, leaving a birthday party for Camilla’s sister, Annabel Elliot, at the Ritz Hotel in London.