View more in
Libby-Jane Charleston

The true story about Camilla's first marriage

Posted by 
Libby-Jane Charleston
Libby-Jane Charleston
 2021-05-19

https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=2iOwXf_0a2EwdxV00
Andrew and Camilla@Getty

In the 1960s, Camilla Shand had relationships with both of her future husbands, Andrew Parker-Bowles and Prince Charles. First she wed Andrew, then they divorced, leaving her free to later marry Charles following the death of Diana, Princess of Wales.

Of course, it didn't play out quite that simply. There was plenty of scandal, affairs and leaked tapes before Charles and Camilla got their royal 'happily ever after'.

https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=07RsfL_0a2EwdxV00
Prince Charles Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall look lovingly at each other during royal engagement@Getty

Luckily, Camilla and Andrew are also said to have remained friends, which would make life much easier considering Charles is both the godfather and stepfather of their son Tom. Meanwhile Andrew, who once briefly dated Princess Anne, also stayed friendly with the royals

Camilla's two suitors

Camilla and Andrew's relationship began in 1965, when Andrew's brother Simon introduced them, and they dated on and off for seven years. It's beleived that Andrew's repeated flings with other women, including Camilla's friends, was one of the reasons the relationship was so unstable at the time. It was during the "off" stages of their relationship that Camilla started her relationship with Prince Charles after first meeting in the early 1970's at a polo match at Windsor Great Park.

It's been said Camilla started the conversation by bringing up a fascinating piece of shared history.

"My great-grandmother was the mistress of your great-great-grandfather. I feel we have something in common," she supposedly told Charles that day. Little did she know that their relationship would, in some ways, repeat history.

Charles and Camilla began their relationship, the first time around, with plenty of baggage. Camilla was still officially dating Andrew, who was away on service as an army cavalry officer. To make matters more complex, Charles was friends with Andrew, so it was near impossible to keep their flirtations a secret.

The future wasn't looking bright for the couple either. Charles was under immense pressure to marry the "perfect bride" and Camilla didn't fit the mould, according to other royals. To marry the heir to the throne, a woman had to at least appear to be virginal.

Who could ever forget the cringe-worthy moment Princess Diana's uncle, the late Lord Fermoy, made a public announcement that his then-20-year-old niece, engaged to the "future king" was a "bona fide" virgin. No such claims could be made for Camilla - not that she would want them to be made publicly regardless.

https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=2hpV3g_0a2EwdxV00
Prince Charles met Camilla Shand, now the Duchess of Cornwall, in the early 70s.@Getty

Andrew and Princess Anne

It's no secret that Andrew had a fling with Princess Anne before marrying Camilla. According to royal biographer Sally Bedell Smith, Andrew met the Princess Royal in 1970 at the Royal Ascot and they started dating shortly afterwards.

"Anne and Andrew enjoyed each other's company, but they could never marry because he was a Catholic," she told Vanity Fair.

Royal expert, Penny Junor believes Andrew was "unusually smitten" with Anne, but their relationship fizzled out. But by the time Camilla and Charles started seeing each other in 1972, Andrew and Anne had called it quits.

However, their friendship has endured; they were last pictured together publicly in March 2019 and remain amicable.

Camilla marries Andrew

It was when Charles was away with the Royal Navy in 1973 that Camilla reconnected with Andrew and they were engaged; Camilla was aged 26 and Andrew was 33. The young couple was said to be a good match, as both of them socialised in the same upper-class circle.

Andrew was born into a family with long-standing royal connections; his parents were friends with the Queen Mother.

In his youth, Andrew attended the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, and went on to spend 34 years in the military, rising to the position of brigadier. He was awarded the Queen's Commendation for Bravery in Zimbabwe.

By 1973, Andrew was under pressure from his family to get married and start a family. After over seven years of on-off dating, he finally commited to Camilla.

When Charles heard of the engagement, he supposedly wrote to his great-uncle Lord Mountbatten, saying he was disappointed that his "blissful, peaceful and mutually happy relationship" with Camilla would now end.

As for the wedding, Camilla and Andrew's ceremony was a huge society event. Royal connections meant they were able to hold it at St James Palace, with Princess Anne, Princess Margaret and the Queen Mother even attending.

https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=33Dr91_0a2EwdxV00
Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer announce their engagement, 1981.(Ron Bell - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)

Royal expert Penny Junor wrote of Camilla: "She foolishly believed that leopards can change their spots and her heart belonged to Andrew, the man so many women had wanted but whom she had successfully bagged.

"She thought he was everything she looked for in a man and he would give her everything she had dreamed of. He was an alpha male, sophisticated and experienced. She liked the fact that he was a cavalry officer, as her father had been, and that like her father, who had won the Military Cross twice, he was brave."

In an episode of The Crown it was implied that the royal family pushed Camilla and Andrew together because the Queen didn't approve of Camilla being with Charles. According to Smith, this was simply not true.

She claims the royal family would never interfere in this way. Instead, she maintains it was Camilla and Andrew's fathers who played a part in the marriage; Bruce Shand and Derek Parker Bowles.

"They were tired of Andrew's foot-dragging. They were the ones who got together and published an engagement announcement in the Times on March 15, 1973. Once that happened, Andrew was forced into proposing. But it wasn't because of anyone in the royal family," she told Vanity Fair.

Not quite the perfect marriage

Camilla and Andrew's marriage was far from perfect, as rumours swirled that Andrew continued to have affairs. Of course, there were plenty of rumours about Camilla too.

Though Charles had wed Diana in 1981, officially making her Princess of Wales, there was talk that his It was during this time that Camilla and Charles reignited their affair, while Charles was married to Princess Diana.

Andrew Parker Bowles and Camilla Shand on their wedding dayGetty

There were plenty of rumours about the love triangle, but the controversy exploded in 1992 when tapes of a phonecall between Charles and Camilla came to light. The leaked recording of a call from 1989 revealed a racy conversation between the pair, and was released soon after Diana and Charles announced their separation. In the recording, Charles made comments about "living" in Camilla's trousers, as a "pair of knickers" or even a tampon.

It created even more trouble for him and Camilla, and took a huge toll on Diana - though she had an affair of her own. Still, Camilla remained married to Adrew despite the scandal that surrounded their marriage and that of Charles and Diana.

They held out until 1995, when Camilla and Andrew finally divorced, releasing statement to declare that their split was a private matter. The statement continued: "Throughout our marriage we have always tended to follow rather different interests, but in recent years we have led completely separate lives."

According to Smith, Camilla and Andrew had actually ended their marriage three years prior to the release of the statement, due to persistent reports that they'd both been having affairs.

"Even when their romance eventually wound down, they remained lifelong friends," she added.

Camilla and Andrew had two children while married; Tom, born in 1974, who is conveniently also Charles' godson, and Laura, born in 1978. They also share five grandchildren; in 2011, one of those grandchildren, Eliza, was a bridesmaid at William and Kate's wedding.

https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=2NTSmv_0a2EwdxV00
Prince Charles and Camill Parker-Bowles posed for their official wedding portrait.@Getty

Where they are now

Thirty-four years after they first met, Camilla and Prince Charles finally tied the knot on April 9, 2005. Theirs wasn't a typical royal wedding and they faced several restrictions, due to the nature of their long and often public affair.

London's Sunday Telegraph summed up their long relationship with the headline, "Husband and wife – at last." And that's how they've remained for almost 16 years, husband and wife and happily married.

As for Andrew, he married Rosemary Parker Bowles in 1996, just 12 months after divorcing Camilla. The couple were said to be very happy, until Rosemary's death at the age of 69 in January 2010 following a battle with cancer.

View All 1 Commentsarrow_down