Inside the True Story of Prince Charles and Camilla’s Breakup on ‘The Crown’

Warning: This article contains major spoilers about Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles’ relationship in The Crown season 3! Only keep reading if you have watched the season and/or are in the mood to have the plot casually ruined for you.

Look, everyone is completely obsessed with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, but thanks to The Crown, there’s only one man who holds the royal keys to my heart and his name is Prince Charles. Before you’re like, “Y THO,” allow me to present my case: (1) He is mysteriously into squirrels and lets them scamper all over his home. (2) Aside from being literal royalty, a lot of Charles’s life kinda sucked! And as such, I feel sort of sorry for him—at least as sorry as one can feel for a rich white man who oozes privilege. In fact, one of the most enjoyable parts of The Crown’s third season was simultaneously rolling my eyes and clutching my heart at all of Prince Charles’s angst—especially when it came to his relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles, his now-wife who he dated before marrying Princess Diana.

The Crown dives into the early part of Prince Charles and Camilla’s relationship and breakup, and lemme tell you, it’s an interesting tale of duplicity, deceit, and posh accents—and I am dying to find out if it’s true. Same? Cool. Come with me.

Charles and Camilla Had a Sexy Polo Match Affair

The year was 1970. Charles was actually kinda hot. He and Camilla met at a friend’s house and quickly started rendezvousing at polo matches, which I guess is a hookup spot for rich people, IDK. Either way, cameras were there to capture the vibes.

Here they are in The Crown:

And here they are IRL in 1970 for comparison:

Oh, and here’s Prince Charles shirtless just for fun:

But Camilla Was Also Hooking Up With Andrew Parker Bowles

Okay, so get this: Before she was hooking up with Prince Charles, Camilla was in a relationship with retired British Army officer Andrew Parker Bowles. And then they ended things in 1970 and he started dating Princess Anne, Charles’s sister. Truly, WHAT WAS HAPPENING WITH THE YOUTHS IN BUCKINGHAM PALACE?

Anyway, here’s Andrew in 1971—he’s in the #2 shirt, and you can see why everyone was so horny for him:

In her biography Diana, Sarah Bradford writes that Camilla “was in love with Andrew Parker Bowles, with whom she’d been having an on-and-off affair since 1967” and that her relationship with Charles was actually her way of getting back at Andrew for hooking up with Anne. According to a friend of Camilla’s, “Princess Anne was in love with Parker Bowles, Camilla was in love with Andrew, Charles was in love with Camilla, Camilla was having some of it but she was also potty about Andrew—all this intrigue was going on.” (“Potty” is British slang meaning “slightly crazy.” I think. Who knows!!)

They Took a “Break” When Charles Joined the Navy

It’s unclear whether the royals actually colluded to ship Charles off in order to end his relationship with Camilla. But there’s a lot of speculation on the matter, so it’s easy to see why the writers of The Crown went with it. Royal biographer Bradford claims that Camilla simply wasn’t aristocratic enough for the royals, and Charles’s godfather Lord Mountbatten arranged for him to join the Navy to pave the way for a future engagement to his granddaughter.

The Crown also shows the Queen Mother doing a fair amount of scheming, and in her book Lilibet: An Intimate Portrait of Elizabeth II, author Carolly Erickson confirms that it was she who ultimately hooked Charles up with Lady Diana Spencer. In other words, it sounds like Charles’s family really did break up him and Camilla.

Either way, our dude was pretty bummed. Here he is ~at sea~ shortly after he was shipped off:

Camilla Wasted No Time Moving on From Charles

Charles got his new Navy post right before Christmas 1972. Flash-forward a few months to March 1973 and Camilla and Andrew were engaged (they got married in July—so super fast!). But we all know this story doesn’t end there.

Apparently, Charles Was Hellllla Hung Up on Camilla

Bradford claims in her biography that Charles remained infatuated with Camilla long after her marriage, and that during a party in 1980, “the physical passion of Charles for Camilla was obvious to everyone.” Apparently, they were seen “kissing passionately” as they danced, so yeah—guess they were hooking up.

Here they are a few years earlier, in 1975, looking positively cheery:

The affair continued after Charles’s marriage to Princess Diana in 1981—and after Diana’s tragic death and Camilla’s eventual divorce, the couple officially reunited and were married in 2005. That’s a whole other THING, so get ready for The Crown season…IDK…7?!

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