Prince Charles and Camilla's relationship has been a cause for controversy since its inception. They suffered public shame for having an affair while they were both married. However, fate brought them together again, but even so, Camilla says their marriage is not easy.
Controversy is not new to the royal family; at some point, almost all of the Queen's children have been under media scrutiny for one reason or another.
Prince Charles knows this only too well. Before marrying Princess Diana, he had pursued other women, including the Duke of Wellington's daughter, Jane Wellesley, and Lord Mountbatten's granddaughter, Amanda Knatchbull, who both turned down his proposals.
However, his heart had always belonged to Camilla Parker Bowles, the now-duchess of Cornwall. At the time, Camilla was married to her husband, Brigadier Andrew Parker Bowles, a major in the Blues and Royals, a cavalry regiment of the British Army.
Charles' pursuit of a married woman offended many of Andrew's fellow officers. They consulted with Buckingham Palace, reporting how unhappy they were that the prince was seeing their major's wife.
Since it would have been out of character for the Queen, she did not comment or confront her son or Camilla — with whom she had once been on friendly terms — about their behavior.
Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall watch a performance at The Strand Hall on July 4, 2018 in Builth Wells, Wales | Source: Getty Images
She did, however, put out the word that Camilla was "banned" from attending any Royal events, including Charles' 30th birthday at Buckingham Palace in 1978. The Queen had effectively "canceled" Camilla, and her prince could do nothing about it.
And when Charles finally settled on the 19-year-old Diana Spencer as his bride, Camilla could only watch from the sidelines. Unfortunately, as if to painfully remind him that his heart did not truly belong to Diana, the couple had a tumultuous relationship that culminated in a tragic marriage.
Following their troubled union, Charles picked up things with Camilla, while Diana reportedly began an affair with captain James Hewitt. Later, a scandal would arise that would leave the world shocked.
On January 17, 1993, People published a transcript of Charles and Camilla's bedtime talks titled "Charles and Camilla - the tape." The tape, which Diana dubbed "sick," was recorded in 1989, while Charles and Diana were still married.
In the recorded phone conversation, the two joked about how "desperately" they wanted to be together, making some crude jokes while planning when and where to meet each other next.
Once the tape leaked, Charles was left "deeply ashamed" about their intimate conversation, seeing as Camilla was his mistress at the time. Years later, many believe it was why Charles did not attend the unveiling of Diana's statue.
Lady Diana Spencer Reveals Her Sapphire And Diamond Engagement Ring While She And Prince Charles Pose For Photographs In The Grounds Of Buckingham Palace Following The Announcement Of Their Engagement. | Source: Getty Images
He reportedly missed the occasion to avoid overshadowing the emotional event by reminding the public of his tumultuous relationship with the late Princess of Wales. The shame was two-sided, with Camilla bearing the brunt of the public wrath.
Eventually, as Charles and Diana's marriage dwindled, ending in divorce, Camilla faced public shaming and, over time, became known as the home-wrecker who shattered Britain's fairytale royal love story.
In a 1995 bombshell interview with BBC, Diana famously complained that "there were three of [them] in [their] marriage" — her, Charles, and his long-time lover, Camilla.
Eventually, after Diana's shocking death, Charles and Camilla became more open about their relationship. However, during those early days, Camilla would not hang around when Prince William and Prince Harry came home from boarding school on weekends or holidays.
While William was aware of who Camilla was, Harry was not quite there yet, and so the two needed an introduction. Palace courtiers wanted the meeting to happen before Diana's first death anniversary and ahead of Charles's 50th birthday. An aide recalls:
"Harry wanted his mum and was missing her terribly. He just didn't want to be there."
THE ARCHBISHOP'S THOUGHTS ON CHARLES AND CAMILLA
Despite the Queen "canceling" and banning Camilla from attending Charles's 50th birthday celebration, Camilla co-hosted a party at Highgrove on Charles' birthday night, which the Queen and Prince Philip declined to be part of.
By then, Charles was in talks with Mark Bolland, who he had hired as his deputy secretary to help make Camilla more acceptable to the Queen and the public.
Already, attitudes towards Camilla were effectively changing, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, who had met Camilla on several occasions, felt her relationship with Charles was deep and affectionate.
He would recall later that any subsequent meetings with Camilla only worked in him and his wife realizing how intertwined Charles and Camilla's futures were.
Following the failed previous marriages of both Camilla and Charles and the rekindling of their relationship, the two announced their engagement in February 2005, 35 years after they first met.
That April, the two married in a civil ceremony at Windsor Guildhall, with William acting as the best man. And while the Queen and Prince Philip did not attend the ceremony, they were present for the reception at St. George's Chapel in Windsor Castle.
CAMILLA'S THOUGHTS ON THEIR MARRIAGE
Charles and Camilla have always been reserved about talking about their marriage. Following their marriage in 2005, Charles only came to speak of the union ten years later.
During the 2015 US tour, Charles praised Camilla's "brilliant" way of taking on the challenge of defining her public role and how she has handled herself over the years.
In 2017, Camilla opened up about the aftermath of her affair with Charles when he was still married to Diana and her to Andrew. She recalled the media storm that followed, saying she could not leave the house and felt like a prisoner in her own home. She recalled:
"It was horrid. It was a deeply unpleasant time, and I wouldn't want to put my worst enemy through it. I couldn't have survived it without my family."
Years later, the couple rarely speaks about their union. However, what remains as clear as daylight is that despite being royals, they face marital challenges like any other couple, especially as Camilla had to deal with public criticism for years.
The duchess, who turns 75 in July, has come a long way. From being "canceled" by the Queen to rekindling her romance with the prince. Now, she stands to become Queen Consort when Charles becomes King, with the blessing of the current monarch.
"It's not easy sometimes, but we do always try to have a point in the day when we meet."
"Sometimes it's like ships passing in the night, but we always sit down together and have a cup of tea and discuss the day. We have a moment," she explained.
One thing she loves about her marriage to Charles is that whenever they get away, everyone can sit in their corner and read a book without necessarily having to converse. Just sit and be together.
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