Prince Charles: Expert discusses proposal to Camilla at Birkhall
The couple’s illicit romance was one of the biggest scandals to rock the monarchy in the latter half of the twentieth century. It was also a key reason why the Waleses’ marriage broke down and ended in divorce. Charles and Camilla were seeing each other on and off for decades, including when they were married to other people.
However, royal author Christopher Wilson insisted Camilla had never intended to marry the prince.
Speaking on the Channel 4 documentary ‘The Real House of Windsor’, he said: “Camilla saw life as Charles’ mistress as a bit of fun, something that would never be made public and would probably continue for as long as she was sexually active.
“I don’t think there was any ambition on her part to advance herself to become the wife of the Prince of Wales.”
The saga began when Camilla and Charles first met in the early Seventies, but the Royal Family did not consider Camilla an appropriate bride for the Prince of Wales.
While Charles joined the Navy and spent several months out at sea, Camilla wrote to him to tell him she had decided to marry Andrew Parker Bowles, another on-and-off boyfriend.
READ MORE: Princess Eugenie baby: Sudden Frogmore exit dashed ‘lovely home’ hopes
Camilla had no intention of marrying Prince Charles, according to a biographer
Camilla married Andrew Parker Bowles in 1973
She married Andrew in 1973, leaving Charles heartbroken, but by 1979 Camilla and Charles had resumed their relationship.
When Charles married Lady Diana Spencer in 1981, they called it off again for a while but by 1986 were seeing each other again.
According to the documentary’s narrator, one of the things Charles liked about Camilla was that she was “happy to remain in the shadows” and keep their relationship a secret.
By contrast, Princess Diana had taken the world by storm and was “stealing the limelight” everywhere she went.
The press and public seemed far more interested in Diana than him, and he felt sidelined for the first time.
Prince Charles married Diana in 1981
The documentary added that the Queen Mother actually helped her grandson have his affair, facilitating it by allowing them to use her Scottish home “as a bolthole” to meet in secret.
In this way, while both the Queen Mother and Camilla were confidantes for Charles when struggling with his marriage to Diana, they were also in part to blame for its failure.
The narrator said: “Once again, [Charles] turned to his grandmother to support over his marital difficulties.
“He also turned to the woman Diana thought was the cause of their problems ‒ Camilla Parker Bowles, whom Charles had loved since he was 24.
“Like the Queen Mother, she gave him unconditional love.
Donald Trump’s ‘mortal insult’ to Queen during visit to UK [EXPERT]
Meghan Markle ‘boasted about being her father Thomas’ favourite child’ [INSIGHT]
Queen heartbreak as special Sandringham tradition abandoned this year [REVEALED]
The Queen Mother allowed Charles to use her Scottish home for rendezvous with Camilla
“Unlike Diana, she was happy to remain in the shadows, not stealing the limelight.”
Historian Dr Piers Brendon explained that the Queen Mother helped Charles because she simply wanted to avoid a scandal.
Dr Brendon said: “The Queen Mother was relatively broad-minded ‒ she didn’t mind Charles having an affair with Camilla Parker Bowles provided that this did not become a scandal.
“And this is what worried her because she had seen what happened in the abdication crisis, where a private matter had blown up into something that had practically wrecked the monarchy.”
Camilla: Expert discusses Queen’s attendance at first wedding
Back in 1936, King Edward VIII had caused a constitutional crisis when he decided he wanted to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson.
He abdicated his throne to do this, meaning his young brother became King George VI and his wife became Queen Elizabeth, later the Queen Mother.
The Queen Mother was said to be furious her life had been turned upside down by her brother-in-law’s decision, and the fallout from the scandal meant she was painfully aware of the fragility of the status of the Crown.
In this way, the Queen Mother’s experience of the abdication crisis shaped her entire outlook on the monarchy.
Charles and Camilla finally tied the knot in 2005
She was determined that her daughter Elizabeth and grandson Charles would tow the line, marry well and prevent this sort of crisis from ever happening again.
She wanted to make sure her grandson chose a bride who was right for the role of Queen and Camilla was not seen as appropriate, because she had dated other men, whereas Diana was 19 when she became engaged to Charles and was said to be a virgin.
For the Queen Mother, keeping Charles and Diana’s marriage together was paramount and if that meant helping him get the intimacy he felt he needed elsewhere then so be it.
She likely felt that if she gave them a place to meet discreetly, they could avoid the story getting out.
In the end, of course, the story did get out ‒ it was written about in the tell-all Diana biography by Andrew Morton in 1992, and incriminating transcripts of a phone call the prince had with Camilla were published in the media that same year.
Camilla divorced her husband in 1995 and Charles divorced Diana in 1996.
After the tragic death of Diana in a car crash in Paris in 1997, Charles and Camilla gradually made their relationship known to the family and the public.
They finally married in 2005 at a small civil ceremony at Windsor Castle and from then on Camilla was known as the Duchess of Cornwall, based on Charles’ secondary title.