Although they have been together as husband and wife for fifteen years, the love story of Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, has had its fair share of highs and lows. What started off as a secret romance that had to be hidden away from the public eye has now become a royal union that the monarchy is proud to reveal. After a long and tumultuous journey, the couple has finally been able to share their love with the world.
A Fairytale Marriage?
In 1981, the world was captivated by the union of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. It was a fairytale wedding, and everyone held out hope for a happy ending, yet certain elements were working against them from the start. Buckingham Palace has stayed quiet on the specifics, but it seems that the foundations of their marriage were destined to crumble. Even now, despite the passing of time, the secrets behind their doomed relationship remain shrouded in mystery.
A royal bachelor
Long before the world was blessed with the presence of two of the most popular members of the Royal family, William, and Harry, their father, Prince Charles, was considered to be one of the most sought-after bachelors. As the first in line to the throne, the news of his union with Princess Diana came as quite a shock to many - some even saying that it was unwelcome. It has been speculated that Prince Charles' relationship with other women prior to his marriage to Diana had a significant impact on their marriage falling apart and the secrets that remained between them.
Who is prince Charles really?
On November 14, 1948, Charles Philip Arthur George came into the world, destined to one day become Charles Prince of Wales. Little did anyone know at the time that this small bundle of joy would one day ascend the throne of the United Kingdom. His mother, the beloved Queen Elizabeth II, and his father, the distinguished Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, couldn't have been more proud.
For many years, it seemed as though Charles was putting his royal inheritance in jeopardy with his romantic decisions. Thankfully, Charles ultimately chose wisely and is now in line to become the beloved King of the United Kingdom, just like his mother before him.
Heavy is the head..
Prince Charles has had a unique and historic role as a member of the British Royal Family. In November 1948, then-Princess Elizabeth II welcomed her firstborn son into the world, and the press declared him to be a "lovely boy, a really splendid baby." Charles was the first royal to be born in Buckingham Palace in the twentieth century and therefore was granted a privileged life exempt from the horrors of the two World Wars. However, he has faced his own share of struggles and controversies over the years. Despite all this, Charles has remained a significant figure, making history in many ways.
A typical student
By the time Prince Charles had hit his teenage years, he had already been an absolute rebel royal figure, and he had no intention of cooling his rebellious heels any time soon! So when the Fall of 1967 rolled around, he decided to make history by enrolling at Trinity College, Cambridge, making him the first royal heir to ever go to university! But it wasn't all smooth sailing, as he eventually settled for a measly 2:2 in anthropology, archaeology, and history when he graduated in 1970. This left many wondering why a British royal figure couldn't get a first-class degree, and so people started coming up with their own wild theories!
Ladies loved him
Before he even tied the knot with anyone, the royal family had very little sympathy for Prince Charles' love life. He was seen as a bit of a rogue, with many family members referring to him as a 'ladies' man.' Charles, however, felt it was an exaggeration - the comments made him feel uncomfortable. Unsurprisingly, his subsequent relationships only served to make matters worse. All in all, Charles was in quite a pickle when it came to his romantic life!
Camilla, Prince Charle's first love
Camilla Rosemary Shand was born just a year before Charles in 1947 and spent most of her life growing up in England. The daughter of a Major in the British Army, she was the granddaughter of the 3rd Baron Ashcombe, which made her a member of the British aristocracy and a real catch! Camilla was a real pro at education - she had attended schools in England, France, and even Switzerland, which is why it's not surprising that she was the first one to capture the heart of Charles. In fact, she was so good at stealing hearts that it's no wonder why Charles was so smitten!
The meeting between the two
Charles and Camilla had always been a couple of young lovebirds, and when they first laid eyes on each other at a polo match in Windsor, it was love at first sight! They were both 22 and 23 years old, respectively, and they felt that they were meant to be together.
So, they started dating and had a habit of sneaking away to Lord Mountbatten's estate in Broadlands to spend romantic moments together. Everything was perfect until something that was looming on the horizon threatened to ruin their love story. They probably never imagined that something so small could have such a big impact on their relationship!
Charles ships out to sea.
According to the illustrious royal biographer Penny Juror who penned the much-acclaimed book The Duchess: Camilla Parker Bowles and the Love Affair That Rocked the Crown, Charles was captivated by Camilla from the get-go because she was, in her own words, "not in any way overawed by him, not fawning or sycophantic." It was a romance fit for a fairy tale, but unfortunately, it had to come to an abrupt end in 1971 when Charles chose to serve his country in the Royal Navy. Would Camilla be willing to stay loyal to Charles while he was away? Who knows, maybe this was the ultimate test of their love!
The decision that changed everything
Rather than inflict Camilla with the sorrow and longing that comes with loving someone who was serving miles away, Charles thought it would be better if they took a break for the time being. As they say, "If it's in the stars, it will happen." Charles was a member of the Royal Family, a role that comes with obligation and loyalty - so for Camilla, it meant she had to carry on with her life. All in all, it was a heartbreaking decision but one that had to be made.
Camilla meets a special someone.
Although Camilla had been dating Prince Charles throughout the year, there was another suitor vying for her attention - Major Andrew Parker Bowles! It was at Camilla's debutante party in 1965 that they first laid eyes on each other. Penny Juror recalled the moment fondly, saying, "He was 25 and a rather handsome officer in the Household Cavalry; she was 17 but remarkably self-assured. Andrew went over to her and simply said, 'Let's dance.' They danced, and she fell in love." So who was this lucky lady going to choose? Was it going to be the young prince or the dashing major? It was certainly going to be a difficult choice for Camilla!
Camilla's marriage to Andrew Bowles
Major Andrew and Camilla had a relationship that was far from tranquil; however, in 1973, Andrew still decided to pop the question, and his beloved said yes! Around the same time, Charles was a world away in the West Indies. A year later, Andrew and Camilla were hitched, and Charles was forced to look for love elsewhere after coming back from his military assignment. But alas, it appears that their feelings for each other never quite vanished! It's gonna be a long road for them to get back together, but who knows what the future holds!
Charles had many eligible bachelorettes
Despite Charles' strong feelings for Camilla, his family had other ideas! They were practical *shoving* him in the direction of other women that they liked the look of. For example, the delightful Carolly Erickson wrote in Lilibet: An Intimate Portrait of Elizabeth II that his beloved Uncle Mountbatten (the same one who owned the estate at Broadlands, which Charles and Camilla used to rendezvous) wanted Charles to marry his granddaughter, Amanda Knatchball. But Queen Elizabeth II wasn't about to be outsmarted - she had something else in mind for Charles!
Queen Elizabeth makes a match.
Queen Elizabeth II, otherwise known as the Queen Mother, had been pushing her eldest son to take a closer look at the granddaughter of one of her closest confidantes, Lady Ruth Fermoy. Despite the efforts of other members of the Royal Family to find someone suitable for her son, the Queen Mother persevered and eventually led him to court with Lady Sarah Spencer in 1977. Little did the Queen Mother know at the time that Lady Sarah Spencer had a younger sister who was about to alter the future of her son and the world for good.
Charles first meets Lady Diana.
Charles and Lady Sarah Spencer were going for a stroll in the park one day back in 1977, and Charles must have had a twinkle in his eye when he saw her younger sister, the ravishing Lady Diana Spencer, as she was only 16 at the time. Even though it was a bit strange for Charles to be in a relationship with Sarah and then move on to her younger sister three years later, the sisters didn't let it get in the way of their friendship. They were still just as close as ever, despite the love triangle that was formed! I guess you could say that Charles was the one who got caught in the middle of it all!
Their first days together
Despite Prince Charles having laid eyes on Diana Spencer back in 1977, it took the poor chap a whopping three years to finally pluck up the courage to ask her out on a date! According to biographer Jonathan Dimbleby, Charles started to consider Diana as a potential bride when his beloved Uncle Lord Mountbatten passed away, and Diana was there to give him emotional support. Prince Phillip, being a concerned father, grew concerned at Charles' indecisiveness and urged him to make a decision already!
A big decision
Just before Diana was about to embark on her marathon trip to Australia, Prince Charles got down on one knee and asked for her hand in marriage. He thought it would be wise to give Diana enough time to think about the proposal before making her decision, but she chose a quicker option and said yes before even boarding the plane! When 1981 rolled around, 31-year-old Charles and 19-year-old Diana officially announced their engagement to the entire world. But when asked if the two were in love, Charles cheekily replied, "Whatever 'in love' means!"
Royal wedding bells finally ring.
On February 6, 1981, a momentous occasion happened - Charles FINALLY asked Lady Diana to marry him! Everyone was ecstatic, and two weeks later - on February 24 - the engagement was announced, sparking wild celebrations all over the world. On July 29, the two lovebirds tied the knot in a grand royal ceremony at St. Paul's Cathedral. Despite Diana's misgivings, Camilla was also in attendance - who knows what she was thinking? But it seemed the newlyweds weren't done receiving unexpected gifts - the more good news was soon on its way!
Prince William and Prince Harry
It had been a year since the Royal Wedding of the century, when Prince Charles tied the knot with the beautiful Lady Diana Spencer on July 29, 1981. A year after the wedding bells had chimed and the confetti had cleared, the royal couple were delighted to welcome their first son, Prince William, to the world on June 21, 1982. Just two years later, the growing royal family was overjoyed to be joined by their second son, Prince Harry, on September 15, 1984. For a while, it seemed like they were living out the fairytale of their dreams until someone special from Charles' past came back into the picture and threw a spanner in the works!
The beginning of the end
Even the most hardcore and die-hard of Royal watchers can't seem to figure out what happened between the couple that caused their relationship to slowly but surely fall apart. Was it the age difference? The differing personalities? Or the fact that Diana was still in the process of figuring out who she was as an individual and was still in the process of growing up? Whatever it was, it took a mere five years for their once seemingly perfect relationship to start showing signs of strain. Then, the footage was released of Diana publicly admitting to being "madly in love" with someone connected to the royal family. Who could it be? The mystery continues…
Camilla and Charles are caught.
According to the ABC special, The Last 100 Days of Diana, Prince Charles and Camilla just couldn't keep their hands off each other, even though both were in high-profile marriages - talk about a love affair for the ages! Everyone was watching, but did that stop them? Nope, not a chance! Apparently, Camilla is a big fan of her great-grandmother, Alice Keppel, who was the famous mistress of Prince Charles' great-great-grandfather, Edward VII. So, she figured, if her great-grandma could do it, why not her? Needless to say, this didn't exactly make Diana very happy, and it certainly didn't help the royal couple's relationship!
Princess Diana confronts Charles’ mistress.
According to the juicy tapes from Andrew Morton, Diana, and Camilla had a showdown at a party. Diana declared, "Camilla, I know exactly what's going on between you and Charles! I'm not a fool, you know." Camilla replied with a sassy remark, "Girl, you've got it all! All the men in the world are swooning over you, two beautiful kids. What else do you need?" Diana snapped back, "What I need is my husband!" And with that, the showdown was over. Ah, if only walls could talk!
Ah, the scandal that shook the world! Little did we know at the time, 'Squidgygate' was the first of many scandals that would rock the royal family. Rumors of Prince Charles's relationship with Camilla had been swirling, and it seemed like Princess Diana had had enough. In 1992, we were all shocked when a transcript of a conversation between Diana and her horseback riding teacher, James Gilbey, was leaked! The transcript revealed that Gilbey had referred to Diana an incredible 53 times by the nickname 'Squidgy' - hence, the scandal's name, 'Squidgygate'! Who knew the lovely Princess Diana had such a scandalous secret?
Charles's Leaked call
It was a royal scandal for the ages! Not only was Diana getting caught for making some *sultry* phone calls outside of her marriage, but when a phone call between Camilla and Prince Charles surfaced, all suspicions of an extramarital relationship were pretty much confirmed. As if that wasn't enough, Charles had to go and make a *crude* comment during the conversation that was sure to get Camilla's pulse racing but would have any other eavesdroppers cringing in disgust. The next few months were sure to be a *dramatic* time for Charles and Diana's marriage. It was gonna be a wild ride!
Opening up to the press
It was only a matter of time before Jonathan Dimbleby got his hands on all the diaries and documents belonging to the ever-so-royal Prince Charles, so he could write a book about him. In 1994, the book, titled 'The Prince of Wales,' was released, exposing the truth about Charles' affair and the decline of his relationship with Diana, which was documented in detail. It was clear from the book that the couple was facing some serious issues, as Charles stated that he had been 'faithful and honorable... until it had all gone to pot, and we had both done our best to try and save it.' It was certainly an interesting read for the public, and the contents of the book certainly gave them a clearer picture of the royal couple's struggles.
Her side of the story
Finally, after much tribulation and strife, Princess Diana mustered up the courage to share her version of the situation. On November 20, 1995, Her Royal Highness gave an interview to Panorama, and let's just say she held nothing back - she pointed right to Camilla, accusing her of causing the demise of her marriage. In Diana's own words, she stated that "My marriage was a bit too crowded if you know what I mean; three's a crowd, as they say!" This historic interview ended up being watched by an incredible 23 million people - talk about a royal audience!
Charles and Diana are over
It was only a matter of time before the public cottoned onto the fact that something was going on between Charles, Diana, and Camilla. After a series of scandalous chats between Charles and Camilla were made public (infamously known as 'Camillagate'), their marriage issues spiraled out of control, leading to their official divorce in 1995. People were left wondering what was to become of poor Princess Diana - would she stay within the royal family, or would the heartache be too much for her to bear?
Diana has her priorities set.
For the beloved Diana, being a mother to her beloved princes, William and Harry, was her entire life. Despite having to cope with her husband's unfaithfulness, she still made sure to find time for her kids and would not let her commitments occupy her life completely; she would make sure to make time to be with her sons and even personally drop them off at school. Her goodwill and graciousness were soon heard of far and wide, and her fame spread beyond the reaches of the kingdom!
Diana as a media icon
Diana was more than just a mother - she was a superhero! She was the champion of all causes that she held close to her heart, and she was a leader in giving back to charity. Her fame and popularity grew exponentially, and soon she became the most photographed woman on the planet. But sadly, the world was rocked by a terrible tragedy that forever changed the Royal Family and left an everlasting mark on the globe.
The world remembers Princess Diana.
In 1997, while desperately trying to avoid the pesky paparazzi who were on her tail in Paris, France, poor Princess Diana tragically met her fate when her car careened off the road and crashed through a tunnel. The news of her sudden passing shook the world, leaving us all in utter shock. Upon hearing the dreadful news, Charles and his two sons had to face the heartbreaking task of bidding their beloved mother a final farewell during her massive funeral procession. Although the situation was devastatingly sad, Charles had to keep it together and, more importantly, brace himself for the unusually tricky situation he and his lady friend Camilla were soon to be in.
Charles was keeping a secret.
Little did anyone know, Charles and Camilla were still an item, even after being harshly criticized in the public domain. In 1995, Camilla even went as far as to file for divorce from her husband, and the two would continue their clandestine meetings, much like they had done nearly 15 years prior. After Diana's unfortunate passing, Charles decided to take a risk and introduce Camilla to his sons, but he was still hesitant to make their relationship public, foreseeing the uproar that would ensue. He knew that revealing their clandestine affair would create a commotion like a world had never seen before!
Charles and Camilla go public.
In 1999, after Charles and Diana had parted ways, the couple finally decided to make their presence felt in public. There was much speculation as to why they chose this particular night to make their debut. Was it really meant to be Camilla's sister's 50th birthday celebration at the London Ritz?
Or maybe they just wanted to throw the media into a tizzy. After all, Charles moving on with Camilla so soon after Diana's death was a topic of extreme interest.
The crowd's reaction to the couple's public exit was nothing compared to the Queen's. Rumors have been swirling ever since that she wasn't too happy about the whole thing.
Ah, the drama of it all!
Looking for the Queen's approval
Charles and Camilla had made their relationship public, and Charles had even gone so far as to introduce her to his sons. But there was still one major obstacle standing in their way - the Queen had steadfastly refused to attend Charles' 50th birthday bash because Camilla would be there! It took a whole year before the Queen would even begin to attend a party with Camilla present, but once she did, the couple took it as a sign of her tacit approval. All that was left to do was tie the knot!
Charles and Camilla finally marry.
It was way back in 2005 when Charles and Camilla declared to the world that they were finally ready to tie the knot after a whopping 35 years of knowing each other! Talk about taking it slow! The Queen was apparently not super thrilled about the union, so she chose to make an appearance at the Service of Prayer and Dedication and the reception afterward. Prince William had the honor of being the best man, and after the wedding, he and Prince Harry had to make space for one more family member - their new sister-in-law!
The somewhat secret step sister
A full 12 months had passed since Charles had the pleasure of meeting the one and only Princess Diana while courting her sister, Camilla. During this time, Camilla was busy doing what she does best - making a family of her very own! In 1978, she brought a beautiful baby girl into the world. Although this young lady would eventually grow into a woman who had no desire to be part of the royal life or to be in the limelight like her mother, she was still the step-sister to two princes and the step-daughter of the heir to the throne! This woman, who was surely destined for greatness, had the rather unassuming name of…
Who Is This Step Sister?
Ah, Laura Parker Bowles - she's the one with the really cool story. She grew up in the luxurious Bolehyde Manor in Allington, Wiltshire, then moved to Middlewick House, also in Wiltshire, when she got a bit older. After that, she went to Catholic girls boarding school in Dorset - yup, she was a smart cookie! But that wasn't enough for Laura - she was determined to continue her education and went on to get degrees in both History of Art and Marketing at Oxford Brookes University. Wow!
But that wasn't the end of her story - in 2001, she decided to up and move to Venice, Italy, to work in the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, a modern art museum on the Grand Canal. Talk about a cool place to work! And then, to top it all off, she got a job that put her right next to someone special. Now that's what we call living your best life!
She Also Has A Brother
After returning from her lavish excursion in Venice, Laura and her older brother Tom thought they'd make a killing by getting jobs at the high-end magazine Tatler. For those of you who don't know, Tatler's readers are generally the wealthiest and upper class, and each issue is treated to articles on a wide variety of topics. Laura was the 'Motoring Correspondent,' while her brother was Tatler's 'Food Correspondent and Reviewer.' It seems that Tatler was the perfect place for these two to get their foot in the door, and look how far they've come since then!
Laura's got a cool job.
After Laura hung up her magazine career, she decided to let her creative juices flow and become a part of the art world. She took on the challenge of managing the renowned Space Gallery located in the posh Belgravia district in London. In 2005, Laura decided to take the plunge and opened up her own business; she co-founded the highly acclaimed Eleven Gallery, where she continues to work as the director. Laura prefers to stay out of the limelight and the gossip columns and instead focuses on the beauty of art. On the other hand, her brother appears to be the polar opposite, as he has a notorious reputation!
Tom makes a big splash.
While Laura prefers to keep a low profile, Tom is a real show-off in the food world! He's such a big deal that he's written SEVEN cookbooks and even won the prestigious Guild of Food Writers Award in 2010. His mastery of the culinary arts has earned him multiple appearances on food-based TV shows as a judge, and he's traveled the entire country writing for various magazines. But there appears to be one thing missing from their lives - maybe it's a giant, chocolate-covered cheesecake?
The inter-sibling royal rivalry
Growing up, Tom and Laura had a... let's say "challenging"... relationship with their siblings, Harry and William. Despite the fact that Tom and Laura were lucky enough to stay away from being the center of attention in most tabloids, the two royal princes blamed them for their parents' issues.
According to the UK's Express magazine, the tension between the royal siblings and their step-siblings was undeniable. So, what were they going to do to mend their broken relationship? Could they kiss and make up? Would they need a little help from the Queen? Or would they forever be stuck in an endless cycle of royal drama?
The first sign of improvement
Even though the siblings had their fair share of bickering as kids, it appears that with age comes wisdom, and the family was able to patch things up! The best indication of the family's newfound peace was the hype prior to Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding. Laura, her mom Camilla, Kate, and Pippa (Kate's sis) went to a brunch to celebrate the upcoming nuptials, and it was there that onlookers heard Camilla say something quite... shall we say, 'direct' to the bride-to-be. Goodness knows what she said, but apparently, it was enough to get the royal family's stamp of approval!
Mother-in-law gives advice.
According to a report from ABC, during that lunch, it was reported that Camilla was giving Kate some advice about how to have a successful marriage, which left people wondering if it was an attempt to make up for the 'scandalous' headlines she had caused in the past. Kate responded to Camilla's advice with politeness, but it was uncertain whether she was truly appreciative of this 'helpful' gesture. Would this awkward exchange of words between the two end up being a hindrance in Laura and Tom's attempt to connect with their royal step-siblings? Well, only time will tell if it is too late for the wedding bells to ring!
Bridesmaids for William and Kate
In 2011, when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge tied the knot, they extended an invitation to Laura's daughter Eliza to be a bridesmaid. It was a sign that all the sibling rivalry of the past was no longer an issue, and Laura thought, "finally, we can all be a happy family!" Little did she know that she was in for a lifetime of drama. Despite the fact that Laura and her step-siblings have attended each other's weddings, Laura still can't help but have a feeling of unease whenever she's around them. Ah, the joys of being part of a blended family!
Married into it, not born
Despite the fact that Laura and Tom show up to events like weddings, they are still a rare sight at other noble shindigs. Tom was quite candid on Good Morning Britain when he exclaimed that he and his sister were "definitely not part of the royal family, let's be honest!" He went on to explain that "My mum married into it, so she's part of it, but us? We're the poor relations. We're just the hangers-on!" It's a bitter pill to swallow for any royal step-sibling, no matter how you look at it!
What about Harry and Meghan
It was the biggest royal wedding since Prince William and Kate Middleton's, so of course, everyone was dying to get a glimpse of Tom and Laura. The press had been abuzz with rumors that the two would attend, but in the end, it was all just speculation. Though many people believed there was more to it than that, the truth was that, for Laura's marriage to Harry Lopes, William had to fly all the way back from his luxurious holiday in Mustique, and Harry had to endure a long journey from sunny Cape Town, South Africa. It's no wonder the press was so eager for them to show up - it would have been a royal affair!
There on the big day
On May 19, 2018, the world was aflutter with excitement over the union of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle - the latest royal wedding to hit the scene! You better believe that the Lopes siblings, Laura and Tom, were in attendance, dressed to the nines and ready to join the celebration. After all, just because Laura doesn't lead a life of fame doesn't mean she can't show up for her family when they need her! Who needs the paparazzi when you have a loving family by your side?
Laura has her own family.
It's been a while since Laura and her accountant-husband Harry Lopes tied the knot in May 2006, but eighteen months later, the couple had a big surprise! Laura proudly announced she was going to be a mama, and on January 2008, she gave birth to her precious daughter Eliza. Fast forward to July 2009, and guess what? The couple was expecting not one, but two little bundles of joy - fraternal twins, Gus and Louis! Even though we don't see her too often, Laura and her family are definitely a part of the royal life. Congratulations!