Princess Diana famously blamed Charles’ affair with Camilla for the breakdown of her marriage, but did another love triangle bring the now Duke and Duchess of Cornwell together?
Author and long-time royal watcher Penny Junor, has claimed as much in a recent talk where she delved into the origins of Camilla and Charles’ love story.
It all harks back to the early 1970s, when Camilla was cavalry officer Andrew Parker Bowles’ on-again off-again girlfriend.
They’d been seeing each other for the past seven years, but he had something of a reputation for not dating one girl at a time, and Junor claims he had returned from a stint overseas and became romantically involved with Charles’ younger sister, Princess Anne.
As Andrew was a Roman Catholic – and potential British heirs can’t marry Roman Catholics – there was never much of a prospect of them ending up together, but Anne and Andrew were believed to be quite smitten with each other.
“[Camilla] was passionately in love with [Andrew] but he was a cad, he was bonking other people, some of her friends,” Junor said at the Henley Literary Festival this week, according to the Daily Mail.
“So when she was introduced to Charles and he thought she was pretty special... she thought ‘Andrew is at the moment off with Princess Anne, you know her brother, teach Andrew a lesson’. So she had a fling with Charles”.
In her recently published book The Duchess: The Untold Story, Junor added, “There was certainly an element of tit-for-tat in Camilla’s fling with Charles”.
According to another royal author Sally Bedell Smith, Charles and Camilla spent the summer of 1972 getting very close, enjoying nights on the town and at Camilla’s London apartment.
In her biography Prince Charles, Bedell Smith claims that Charles, who was 24 at the time, “found the warmth that he yearned for” in Camilla, and that he loved the way she “always listened to him”.
There was a problem however. Apparently Charles had some lingering concerns about his love; was he too young to marry? Did she have a “virginal” enough image for a princess? (It was expected at the time that a prince’s bride have at least the appearance of virginity and Camilla had been dating someone else for the better part of a decade.)
But it didn’t matter either way; Charles went away on naval duties and by the time he got back, Camilla and Andrew were engaged.