The Duchess of Cornwall (Camilla Shand as she then was) and the Prince Charles probably began their relationship in 1970, at a polo match before either of them were married. Friendship grew into romance, with Camilla often spending time in the Prince's apartments in Buckingham Palace. Charles and Camilla soon were frequently seen out together enjoying themselves.
It is not clear why Charles never married the Duchess of Cornwall at that time. Perhaps there was pressure from the Queen. The "story" is that believing Charles would never propose, Camilla eventually married Army officer Andrew Parker Bowles in July 1973 shortly after Prince Charles was sent abroad on a naval posting. Andrew Parker Bowles was a friend of the Prince of Wales and a apparently a godson of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother
Camilla's relationship with Charles continued as friendship. Charles became a regular guest at the Parker Bowles' house and was a godfather to their first child.
Camilla was official escort to the Prince during the Zimbabwean independence celebrations in 1980 (Charles did not marry Diana until 1981). The Parker Bowles marriage seems to have had both of them conducting extramarital affairs - and Andrew Parker Bowles is believed to have taken a long-term mistress who later became his second wife.
Camilla is said to have approved of Diana's marriage to Charles in 1981. Camilla's relationship to Charles appeared to fade over the first few years of his marriage to Diana. But in 1984, rumours began to circulate that Charles and Diana were growing apart and that Camilla was back in Charles's life.
Diana had originally been a friend of Camilla, but later started to refer to her as"the Rottweiler". Diana understood Camilla had known before she did that Charles was going to propose marriage to Diana. And the Princess of Wales publicly blamed the extra-marital relationship between her husband and Camilla for the break-up of their marriage, saying "There were three in the marriage, so it was a bit crowded."
During this time Charles and Camilla bought one another presents and used the pet nicknames of "Fred" and "Gladys" to one another. As there was much media spin given by both Charles and Diana to the press, it is difficult to fathom exactly which of the pair were to "blame" more for the breakup of the pair's marriage. The Prince's supporters put out that it was Diana's "paranoid fixation" over Charles's friendship with Camilla that brought about the collapse of the royal marriage.
Camilla was not popular with the British public at this time. The airing of the 'Camillagate' tapes, mobile phone conversations between Camilla and Charles, which had been plucked off the airways by a scanner, did not help her image. She said in the tapes 'I'd suffer anything for you. That's love.' And Charles said that he would like to 'live inside your trousers', with a reference to a tampon thrown in.
Following the release of this tape it was reported that Camilla had been pelted with bread rolls in a Wiltshire supermarket. Whether it was true or not, was difficult to judge, but it certainly could have happened, such was the low public esteem in which Camilla was held. Camilla Parker Bowles surprisingly broke her silence to the press to deny this oft-repeated and demeaning story, saying that she was never in fact pelted with bread rolls by angry women in any supermarket. The publication of "Diana: Her True Story" and Diana's television interview about her failing marriage all added to Camilla's unpopularity.
The Prince of Wales later made a public admission, in a television interview with Jonathan Dimbleby, that he had in fact committed adultery. The Parker-Bowleses soon announced their divorce in 1995, although they had been living apart for some time. Andrew Parker Bowles soon remarried.
Throughout it all, Camilla declined to make any public comment. After her divorce from Andrew Parker Bowles, she had moved to Raymill House, a 30-minute drive from Prince Charles's Highgrove home. This made her contact with Charles much easier, and they could stop relying on discreet friends with country houses offering them accommodation.
After Diana's death in 1997, Camilla Parker-Bowles continued to be a steady companion to Charles, and public speculation started to grow about the future of their relationship and indeed what her role would be when Charles eventually should become king.
In July 1998, Prince William agreed to meet Camilla for the first time, and the news was leaked to the press presumably by royal advisers who thought that such a meeting would show that she was being accepted into the Royal Family, and that the inevitability of a long term relationship needed to be faced. Newspapers reported of the tea party that after half an hour of tea and small talk Camilla said, "I really need a gin and tonic."
About six months later, Charles and Camilla made their first public appearance together outside the London Ritz Hotel, where they attended a non-royal function - Camilla's sister's birthday party.
According to press releases, it was at the specific request the Prince William and his brother Harry, that Camilla accompanied Charles and his two sons on a Mediterranean cruise in August 1999.
Charles and Camilla started gradually to do public engagements together, and were often seen together on social occasions. In early 2005, news reports stated that even though they were not married at the time, Prince Charles paid for Camilla's jewels and designer wardrobe (for a lady who does not command attention for her dress sense, her designers include Giorgio Armani and Oscar de la Renta) plus the decoration of her two-room Clarence House quarters by designer Robert Kime.
Eventually the Royal Family seemed to have worked out the way forward and on February 10, 2005, Clarence House announced Charles and Camilla were to marry at Windsor Castle on April 8. A two month "engagement" being somewhat short by royal standards.
The Duchess of Cornwall and Charles wedding ran into a number of problems including the choice of venue, and a one-day postponement when Pope John Paul II's funeral took place on their original date.
After the wedding Camilla is now styled Duchess of Cornwall . She keeps a house in Wiltshire, but primarily lives at Highgrove House and at Clarence House, the Prince of Wales's official London residence.
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