When it comes to Prince Charles, Princess Diana, and Camilla Parker Bowles, the former Princess of Wales famously shared, “Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded,” (via The Sydney Morning Herald). In matters of love and marriage, Diana was understandably no fan of Parker Bowles. But diving further than the tabloid headlines, what was the relationship between these two really like? Scandals can often give us a very flat perspective on very three-dimensional people, and the relationship between these two women had more details than many realized.
Diana’s relationship with Parker Bowles changed over time, just as her relationship with Prince Charles did, too (via Insider). By most accounts, Diana and Charles were quite close during their early years, with their relationship at its strongest in 1984, prior to Harry’s birth. During this time, Parker Bowles was likely viewed more as a past love than a current rival. Even Prince Charles admits that the affair was not a constant throughout the marriage, instead beginning when the relationship “became irretrievably broken down, us both having tried.”
Exactly how much the Prince may have tried is a subject for another debate.
Camilla transitioned from acquaintance to enemy
Parker Bowles, formerly Shand, would have regularly been a part of Diana’s new social circle. After all, Prince Charles was the godfather of his on-again, off-again paramour’s son Tom (via Town and Country). Diana was already familiar with Parker Bowles, having had lunch with her days prior to the official announcement of her engagement to the Prince of Wales. Through later published works, Diana relates that Parker Bowles offered congratulations on the union but also seemed to be hinting at her familiarity with Prince Charles and his need to get away from his future wife through “hunting.” By all accounts, Diana felt this relationship was innocent enough at the time and only suspect in hindsight. Only a few years later, things would drastically change between the two women.
Diana relates the story of her 1989 confrontation of Camilla through a series of recordings later published in Andrew Morton’s book Diana: Her True Story — In Her Own Words (via IOL). She boldly told the object of the Prince’s affections that she knew what was going on, to which Camilla reportedly denied everything. In follow-up Camilla asked, “You’ve got everything you ever wanted. All the men in the world fall in love with you, and you’ve got two beautiful children, what more do you want?” Diana tersely replied, “I want my husband.”
Unfortunately, we all know how this story ended.
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