In The Crown season four, Charles proposes to Diana in the nursery at Windsor Castle, but this is disputed. Despite some publications recounting this version of events, other royal experts have claimed he actually proposed to her in Camilla and Andrew Parker Bowles’ garden. Given that Charles was still in love with Camilla at the time, this must have been very awkward.
Royal biographer Anthony Holden claimed the proposal took place “beside the cabbage patch in the Parker Bowles’ back garden”.
He argued that both Camilla and another woman in his life, Lady Dale Tyron, were both keen on the match.
He wrote in a 1993 Vanity Fair article: “The unmarried Charles was known to be very close to two married women: Camilla and Lady Dale Tyron ‒ who marketed some of her fashion designs under the label Kanga, the nickname Charles gave her.
“They were even said at the time to have formed a committee to see virgins fit to marry the prince and put Diana at the top of the list.
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Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer’s engagement picture
Andrew and Camilla Parker Bowles got married in 1973
“Where, after all, did Charles propose to Diana?”
Royal expert Tina Brown agreed that the other women in Charles’ life supported the Diana marriage.
She said: “His family wanted it, the public wanted it, like the last Prince of Wales, he liked to confide in married women, and his two favourites, Lady Tyron and Camilla, wanted it.
“They had met the blushing little Spencer girl and deduced she was not going to give them any trouble.”
Josh O’Conner as Prince Charles and Emma Corrin as Diana in The Crowrn
In The Crown, Camilla encourages Charles to marry Diana in conversations over the phone.
Then, in episode three, she writes to Diana after the engagement is announced, while Charles is away on a tour.
The pair meet up and have a very uncomfortable lunch in which Camilla appears to be sussing Diana out, and even trying to make her insecure over all the information she does not know about Charles.
Camilla tells Diana how Charles does not eat lunch and enjoys a boiled egg with “everything”
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Diana and Camilla meet in The Crown
She acts shocked when Diana does not know this information already, saying: “Darling, I would have thought it would have been one of the first things you noticed about him!”
When Diana tells her she is unaware of his habit of surrounding himself with what Camilla calls “daddy substitutes”, Charles’ former flame says: “Darling, you really know nothing, do you?”
Camilla then insists Diana needs a “proper Fred tutorial”, before having to explain it is her nickname for him.
Diana admits she and Charles have not spent much time together.
Camilla asks Diana whether she enjoys country pursuits, and she says she is “more of a townie really”.
The future Duchess of Cornwall then asks whether Diana sees herself spending more time in London than at Highgrove and she replies: “Why do you ask?”
The way this interaction is portrayed in The Crown seems to reflect this idea that Camilla did not find Diana particularly intimidating.
However, what The Crown does not portray is how the Prince and Princess of Wales would regularly spend time with Camilla and Andrew Parker Bowles as a four, which might explain why their garden would be the location for Charles to pop the question.
Emerald Fennell as Camilla Parker Bowles in The Crown
Royal biographer Penny Junor said that in the late Seventies when Charles was having an affair with the married Camilla, he continued socialising with the pair as a couple too.
She wrote: “Life went on as it had before.
“The prince still came to stay with the couple, they all went racing together, to polo, to parties and dinners and balls.
“They all behaved in a typically upper-class fashion as if nothing had happened.”
While Charles called off the affair before he proposed to Diana, they were still regular guests of the Parker Bowles at their Bolehyde home.
Diana told Andrew Morton in 1992: “I’d been staying at Bolehyde an awful lot with the Parker Bowles and I couldn’t understand why she kept saying to me, ‘Don’t push him into this, don’t do that.’
“She knew so much about what we were doing privately, I couldn’t understand it.
“Eventually I worked it all out and proof of the pudding and people were willing to talk to me.”