Camilla Parker Bowles reportedly felt that she was not fit for the royal life of endless responsibilities, even regarding Diana's previous struggles in the Firm.
Since entering the Royal Family over 15 years ago, Camilla Parker Bowles has become one of the most famous names in the Firm. She first attracted controversy when her supposed extramarital relationship with Prince Charles began and amplified after Princess Diana's death in 1997.
In 2005, Charles and Camilla officially became husband and wife in a private civil ceremony. Although low-key, the ceremony was still fairytale-like, like other royal weddings. It also came with a string of potentially catastrophic happenings that could have prevented the marriage.
Prince Charles and Camilla during a ceremony at a memorial on March 19, 2016 in Pristina, Kosovo. (M) Princess Diana in a purple outfit during an engagement. | Source: Getty Images
THE AMBIVALENCE OF CAMILLA'S POSITION MADE HER FEEL SOME EMPATHY FOR DIANA
In the book “The Palace Papers: Inside the House of Windsor,” royal author Tina Brown revealed that, for Camilla, “there was always some fresh debacle not of her making that drove her underground again,” despite being accustomed to royalty.
She undoubtedly enjoyed being with Charles but knew there was an upside to not being his wife, and that was performing royal duties.
Camilla Parker-Bowles and Prince of Wales as they leave St. Mary's Church at Sandringham, Norfolk to attend a Sunday morning church service. | Source: Getty Images
Camilla hated speaking in public, flying on aircraft, and getting attention from the press. In addition, she did not like her calendar filled with activities against her will, which was basically what the royal life meant.
“The Prince's routine was relentless,” Brown said. “He never ate lunch and breakfasted on the same birdseed and peeled fruit every morning.”
Princess Diana during an overseas visit in Italy on April 22. | Source: Getty Images
He also followed a strict schedule, which was never Camilla's strong suit, but Charles expected nothing less from his lover than to be prepared for the engagements. “When she asked where they were going, he would snap: 'Haven't you read the brief?'” Brown revealed.
She added, “One of her friends at that time told me that she had even started to feel some empathy with Diana's manifold discontents.”
THE EVENT THAT PUSHED CHARLES TO GET ENGAGED WITH CAMILLA
Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles during a garden party at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh. | Source: Getty Images
Charles and Camilla eventually tied the knot, although initially, there were some worries about their union and public perception of the royalty. According to Brown, a close friend's son pushed the couple towards marriage.
When Norfolk landowner Hugh van Cutsem's son was getting married to the Duke of Westminster's daughter, Charles and Camilla's attendance would have created friction. Camilla would be forced to sit behind the Prince, which she refused to do, perceiving it as a form of humiliation.
In the end, Charles needed to skip the wedding and attend another engagement, while Camilla had the same excuse. “The absence of the groom's royal godfather at the wedding was a devastating social setback for the van Cutsems, but one they had to bear with a stiff upper rictus,” Brown wrote.
Charles asked Camilla to be his wife at Balmoral Castle after the incident. Queen Elizabeth gave her blessing and agreement. Brown said:
“The Prince of Wales had made an unprecedented show of support for the woman he loved.”
THE CHAIN OF ILL-STARRED EVENTS THAT ALMOST RUINED THE COUPLE'S WEDDING
Camilla and Prince Charles during a visit to the Museo del Oro Zenu on October 31, 2014 in Cartagena, Colombia. | Source: Getty Images
The royals chose Valentine's Day of 2005 to reveal the engagement news and Camilla's new HRH title, which came with it. They also decided to hold a civil ceremony so as not to be conflicted with religious controversies. However, several other events made it seem like the wedding shouldn't even happen.
One instance was Prince Harry's infamous Nazi outfit, which leaked to the press. Charles was angered by his son and wanted Harry to apologize to England's chief rabbi.
Following the incident came reporter Robert Jobson's inside scoop of the wedding, leading the royals to announce the engagement earlier than expected.
Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles in the White Drawing Room at Windsor Castle Saturday April 9 2005, after their wedding ceremony. | Source: Getty Images
Another problem happened involving the Marriage Act. “The small print in the Marriage Act allowed marriages to be solemnized in certain 'approved premises,'” Brown wrote. As such, giving Windsor castle a license to host the couple's civil marriage would mean anyone could apply to wed in the same venue.
The wedding venue then had to be moved to Guildhall, but as the supreme governor of the Church of England, the Monarch felt that she could only attend the ceremony if it were in St. George's Chapel. Brown wrote:
“All of this offered an irresistible cock-up narrative for the press: 'A Bloody Farce!' 'Queen Snubs Charle's Wedding!'”
Another unfortunate event occurred when Pope John Paul II died, and the Queen ordered Charles to represent her at the funeral, which happened to be on their wedding day. When nothing more could go wrong, the televised wedding schedule clashed with the Grand National.
To solve the problem, the beginning of the race could be moved so viewers could see both. “The otherwise stalwart Camilla went into meltdown. She developed a chronic case of sinusitis and spent the week with girlfriends ministering to her shredded nerves,” Brown revealed and added:
“On the day of the wedding, she had to be coaxed out of bed.”
But from that moment, she was more than ready to marry the man she loved. “Camilla dressed in a delicate cream chiffon dress and wide-brimmed, white-feathered Philip Treacy hat, had her own muted dazzle on her wedding day,” Brown wrote.
She continued, “Aged 57, unvarnished, unblushing, unsvelte, she was someone that Diana had never been: the woman whom the Prince of Wales has wanted all along.”
“CHARLES COULD BE 'GRANDFATHER OF NATION' WHILE CAMILLA- INSTANT QUEEN MOTHER”
Prince Charles and Camilla during the parade ring on day 1 of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 16, 2015 in Ascot, England. | Source: Getty Images
Years following their marriage, Brown believes that the public may have accepted the current standing of Camilla in the royal family. She said:
“I actually think people might rally to him because he is an authentic person, and he's coming in at a moment when his own passions really do meld with the times we live in.”
She added, “His long-standing passion for the environment and concern about climate change, these are not Palace-manufactured things.”
Prince Charles and Camilla after attending the opening ceremony of the sixth session of the Senedd at The Senedd on October 14, 2021 in Cardiff, Wales. | Source: Getty Images
Brown also thinks that Camilla can be somewhat an “instant Queen mother.” She said, “She has a lot of charm and naturalness, and they have this incredible bond as a couple.” Charles would want the title for his wife as well.
Her unwavering love for Charles will also keep him in check when he ascends the throne. “Camilla is the horse whisperer for him,” Brown believes. “She understands his temperament perfectly. She's got that incredible mistress' EQ about when to be tart in terms of pulling him up if he's being pompous.”
While the generation has become more accepting of Camilla, Brown doesn't think the late Princess Diana would have approved of it. “Diana would have loathed the idea of Queen Camilla, there's no question about it, but we're 25 years on,” she said.