There are few affairs quite as infamous as that of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles. Many suspected that the Prince was seeing Camilla during his engagement to Princess Diana. Diana herself spoke out about the affair in great detail after her divorce from Prince Charles was finalized. She describes what she knew before she married the Prince and why she went through with a marriage to an unfaithful man. The affair would have ended most relationships but Diana pressed on.
Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles began dating in the mid-1970s. The young couple fell in love and things started to get serious. Prince Charles met Camilla’s family and brought Camilla home to meet members of his own family as well. The pair enjoyed attending polo matches together and seemed destined for marriage. Charles was due to serve in the royal navy. His relationship with Camilla ended abruptly when he first traveled abroad for his military service. No one is sure why.
Many fans of the royal family and even some of their biographers have speculated as to why Charles and Camilla ended their early relationship. It’s rumored that senior members of the royal family did not find Camilla to be a suitable bride for the prince. Prince Charles’ great-uncle Lord Mountbatten allegedly arranged for Charles’ military travel hoping that the young prince could be set up with his granddaughter with Camilla out of the way. It’s unclear if that’s simply a rumor.
After Charles’ return, he began seriously dating Diana. Even though the couple was on the path to marriage Charles was still seeing Camilla. Diana described the moment she learned about the affair: “Someone in his office told me that my husband has had a bracelet made for her,” Diana revealed on her audiotapes. “I walked into this man’s office one day and I said, ‘Ooh, what’s in that parcel?’ And he said ‘Oh, you shouldn’t look at that’. So I opened it and there was the bracelet … I was devastated, and I said ‘Well, he’s going to give it to her tonight.”
Despite Diana being fully aware of Charles’ infidelity, she pressed on with her marriage commitment. When later asked why she had chosen to stay with the prince she said she had done it because she was “immature”. British tabloids scrutinized Diana’s every move adding more pressure to the marriage. Eventually, the affair, the couple’s incompatibility and the pressure Diana was under all led to their eventual divorce. Diana then went public with the affair between Charles and Camilla and her experiences as his wife.
Princess Diana was tragically killed in a car crash in 1997. Prince Charles moved on from his divorce and soon after the death of his ex-wife very quickly. He announced to his family that his relationship with Camilla was non-negotiable. Charles began to integrate Camilla into his public life and royal appearances. In 2005 it was announced that the couple was engaged. They were married later that same year. Since then Camilla has worked tirelessly for the British people and Prince Charles.