Although a pairing that courted controversy in the wake of the untimely death of Princess Diana, the relationship of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles was the talk of the noughties, with stories breaking about all manner of strange and curious aspects of their relationship. Here we take a look back at some of the more risqué tales about the couple that sit perfectly in that Royal tradition – a pristine public façade coupled with a salacious private life.
But let’s first remember how it all began. It was 2005, and almost 10 years after Charles’ divorce from Princess Diana when Charles and Camilla got engaged. An alleged affair between Charles and the then Camilla Shand was said to be a significant factor in Charles and Diana’s divorce, and those rumours were given weight by their subsequent engagement and marriage. The most intriguing part of this tale came in 1993, when a transcript of a rather risqué conversation between Charles and Camilla surfaced in an Australian magazine, with the most cringeworthy aspects respectfully edited out by British press.
Charles became the only previous member of the Royal Family to opt for a civil wedding, perhaps not such an apt name given that divorces on both sides led to it. Camilla had been Camilla Parker Bowles, until her marriage to Andrew ended in divorce. Charles and Camilla were wed at Windsor Guildhall, with neither of Charles’ parents opting to attend.
It may not surprise some of you to learn that the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall were already inextricably linked prior to their romantic engagements. Andrew Parker Bowles, Camilla’s first husband, was said to be seeing Princess Anne (Charles’ sister) in the 1970s, and actually played on the same polo team as Charles in the 1970s.
Further, and perhaps even more traditionally, the pair are related. Camilla and Charles are cousins – ninth cousins once removed, to be precise. Their ancestry is linked back to Henry Cavendish, a British philosopher and scientist who was responsible for discovering hydrogen!
A less than savoury relation of Charles is accounted for by his shared ancestry with Dracula. The inspiration for Dracula – Vlad the Impaler, and Charles, share a link through Charles’ great-grandmother, Princess Mary, who was related to Vlad’s half-brother. Fittingly, Charles and Camilla own a house in Transylvania where one would imagine they’re more likely to be quaffing a Romanian red than anything more illicit.
Elsewhere in high society both Camilla and Charles have had regular brushes with celebrity – Camilla is related to both Madonna and Celine Dion, and Charles was offered, and declined, an appearance in the iconic TV series Dr Who. Camilla is also known for her love of frolicking with celebrities – Vin Diesel being the most unexpected associate, who together with Benedict Cumberbatch, wished her a happy birthday in 2003, the latter attending her lavish garden party. It truly seems that the best way to develop a network of influential allies and relatives is to be in the Royal Family, or at the very least be rich and famous.
Long before the affair that cost him his marriage with Lady Diana, Charles was known as something of a man about town. He was rumoured to have had more than just a friendly acquaintance with Barbra Streisand. First meeting on the set of Funny Girl, the two stayed in touch and re-kindled their relationship 20 years later when they met in Los Angeles.
A long-term friendship with Lord Anthony Tryon was rumoured to have led to an affair with his wife Dale, a fashion designer in the city. The rumours were of course denied by all parties, although sources close to the Prince said that Charles had said she was the only woman who ever understood him.
It must be hard for a man’s ego to have every romantic relationship publicly denied, but it happened again in the case of Susan George. Film buffs out there may remember her from the film Straw Dogs, where a nude scene made her the talk of the town in the 1970s. Susan and Charles were said to have spent many intimate dinners together in the days before their respective marriages.
Happily ever after
It was fitting to the character of Camilla, a general good egg, that she opted against her given title of Princess of Wales, in favour of the Duchess of Cornwall, out of respect for the late Lady Diana Spencer. She has said to have been a loyal partner to Charles and has fostered a great relationship with Kate Middleton; presumably she is an ideal mentor as someone who has married into royalty.
Charles and Camilla look as strong as ever. Indeed even the Queen seems to have finally accepted her into royal life. Having previously snubbed Charles’ 50th birthday party when Camilla was attending, Queen Elizabeth finally accepted an invitation to the 60th birthday party of the King of Greece, a tacit acceptance of the relationship that started in an extramarital affair.
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