Why King Charles And Queen Camilla Could Not Hide Their Affair From Princess Diana

When King Charles III got engaged to Princess Diana at the beginning of 1981, Diana told her new fiancé that she loved him. "I said, 'I love you so much. I love you so much,'" Diana later recalled in an interview with Andrew Morton (via YouTube). The way that the princess remembered things, Charles had a peculiar response to her declaration. As she told Morton, "And [Charles] said, 'Whatever love means.'"

That was perhaps Diana's first clue that something in her relationship was amiss. Indeed, from what we can see, Charles was not in love with Diana on the fateful day of the couple's all-too-rushed engagement. And, how could he have been? At the time of his engagement to Diana, the Prince of Wales had feelings for someone else. Charles was effectively still involved with his friend, confidant, and occasional lover of more than a decade: now-Queen Camilla Parker Bowles. As early as 1972, Charles began to think of Camilla as his soulmate. However, it is believed that the palace forbade him from asking for her hand, as she was considered too much of a party girl. 

Ultimately, Charles was pushed towards Diana, and, out of duty, the prince went through with the wedding. He never did forget Camilla, though, and the pair resumed their affair on and off throughout their respective marriages. Although Charles and Camilla tried to hide their love from Di, they never really managed to do so. The pair simply left too many clues in their wake.

Camilla was involved in Charles and Diana's courtship

From the perspective of the public, King Charles III's marriage to Princess Diana was a fairy tale love story. However, from another viewpoint, it was a carefully orchestrated attempt to keep Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles together. In fact, Camilla played a major role in choosing Diana for Charles. As royal biographer Christopher Andersen revealed in an interview with USA Today, "Camilla and another of Charles's longtime mistresses, the late Lady Dale 'Kanga' Tryon, actually drew up a list of potential brides for Charles, and Diana came out on top ... So Camilla picked Diana to be Charles's bride and the mother of his children."

Although it might seem odd for Camilla to choose her lover's wife, there was one potential reason why she got involved. Camilla understood that, as the heir to the throne, Charles would need to get married and have children who could then carry on his bloodline. At the same time, she likely believed that not just any woman would accept her continued romance with the Prince of Wales. Thus, Camilla possibly concluded that if Charles married an inexperienced young lady — like the nineteen-year-old Diana — it would be easier to hide the affair. Writing in the book, "The Duchess of Cornwall: Camilla's Story and Secrets," royal expert Jessica Jane opined, "Camilla never saw Diana as a threat ... [She thought] the late Princess could be someone she could manipulate" (via Express).

Camilla tried to befriend Diana in the beginning

In the early days of King Charles III's relationship with Princess Diana, now-Queen Camilla tried to befriend the young princess. Her goal, it seemed, was to try to make her friendship with Charles seem less suspicious. This was especially evident when, five months before the royal wedding, Camilla invited Diana out to lunch. According to the Channel 5 documentary "Charles and Di: The Truth Behind Their Wedding" (via Express), it was during this meeting that Camilla tried to reassure Diana that there was nothing going on between her and the Prince of Wales. As Tracy Oberman explained on the program, Camilla told the blushing bride that she was simply "hoping to spend time with Charles when he went hunting."

Interestingly, though, this conversation helped clue Diana in to Camilla's true intentions. The young bride felt that Camilla was a bit overly focused on the subject of hunting. Speaking to Andrew Morton in a private interview (via Town & Country), Diana recalled the interaction: "She said, 'You are not going to hunt, are you?' I said: 'On what?' She said: 'Horse. You are not going to hunt when you go and live at Highgrove are you?'" To this bizarre question, Diana said that she responded, "No." Then, Diana claimed that Camilla replied, somewhat awkwardly, "I just wanted to know." Through this interaction, it became clear that Charles and Camilla were more than friends.

Charles made Diana compete with Camilla early on

Queen Camilla's odd lunch invite was not the only thing that clued Princess Diana into the affair. King Charles III also exhibited certain behaviors that revealed his affinity for Camilla. This was especially clear when, during his engagement to Diana, Charles put his fiancée in a situation where she had to compete with Camilla for his attention. 

In her private interview with Andrew Morton (via YouTube), Diana remembered, "You may recall seeing a picture of me sobbing in a red coat when [Charles] went off on his airplane. That was nothing to do with him going. The most awful thing had happened before he went. I was in his study talking to him about his trip. The telephone rang. It was Camilla. Just before he was going for five weeks." Apparently, Diana was faced with the predicament of whether or not to stay in the room — and compete with Camilla for Charles' attention — or walk away from the situation. In the end, Diana told Morton that she "left them to it." 

Unfortunately, however, this interaction between Charles and Camilla left Diana feeling vulnerable. Speaking to Morton in the same interview, Diana confessed, "And, it just broke my heart, that." As if that particular situation were not stressful enough, Diana began to perceive that Charles confided in Camilla as a partner. The princess told Morton, "She knew so much about what he was doing privately."

Diana uncovered jewelry that Charles had made for Camilla

While Princess Diana had every reason to believe that Camilla Parker Bowles and King Charles III were too close for comfort, she didn't immediately understand what was going on. As Camilla likely already suspected, the nineteen-year-old bride was too naive to guess that her fiancé was already having an affair. Diana herself later admitted to Andrew Morton: "I was still too immature to understand all the messages coming my way " (via YouTube).

Shortly before the royal wedding, however, Diana found concrete proof of Charles and Camilla's relationship. In the private tapes that she recorded with Morton, Diana remembered, "I walked into this man's office one day, and I said, 'Ooh, what's in that parcel?'" Apparently, she was promptly warned by a royal staffer, "You shouldn't look at that." Intrigued, Diana said that she opened the package anyways. "There was the bracelet," she remembered. "And [the staffer] said, 'Well, he's going to give it to [Camilla] tonight.'"

Naturally, this interaction crushed Diana. At this point, she still hoped that her fiancé would be in love with just her. She told Morton, "I was devastated." However, beyond the feelings of hurt, Diana feared that Charles had already made a decision about the validity of their marriage. The princess described the situation: "It was as if he'd made his decision, and, if it wasn't going to work, it wasn't going to work."

Princess Diana wanted to break off her engagement to King Charles

Although King Charles III and Camilla Parker Bowles tried to keep their affair a secret, it did not take long for Princess Diana to put the pieces together. Once she found the bracelet that Charles had purchased for his mistress, things became extremely clear for the young bride. In fact, shortly after Diana made this discovery, she considered breaking things off with her unfaithful fiancé. Speaking to the journalist Andrew Morton about this predicament, Diana recalled, "I went upstairs, had lunch with my sisters, who were there. And I said, 'I can't marry him. I can't do this. This is absolutely unbelievable'" (via YouTube).

Unfortunately, however, at that point, the relationship was so high-profile that it would have been almost impossible for either party to bow out. When Diana invited her sisters out to lunch, they tactfully reminded her of her royal responsibilities. Indeed, by then, Diana's commitment was not just to Charles — it was also to the crown. As the princess later told Morton, her sisters helped her realize the significance of her position. She explained that they "were wonderful and said, 'Well, bad luck, Dutch, your face is on the tea towel, so you're too late to chicken out.'" Sadly, though, this was hardly the response that Diana was hoping for. Her fate was essentially sealed. 

The princess found photos of Camilla in Charles' planner

Despite any doubts that Princess Diana may have had about being with King Charles III, she married him at Westminster Abbey on July 29, 1981. As all eyes were on Diana, Diana's eyes were on the future Queen Camilla. In the tapes that she privately recorded for journalist Andrew Morton (via YouTube), Diana shared, "Walking down the aisle, I spotted Camilla. Pale gray hat ... You know, vivid memory. And I thought, 'Well, there we are. That's it. Let's hope that's all over with.'"

Of course, Camilla's romance with Charles was far from over. When the then-Prince and Princess of Wales set off on their honeymoon, this fact became alarmingly clear to Diana. For one thing, the newlyweds spent so much of this trip performing royal duties that they barely had a second to be together. For another, Diana discovered that Charles and Camilla had a deeper relationship than she thought. After all, she realized that Charles carried photographs of Camilla around with him. 

Speaking with Morton, the princess described the moment of this uncomfortable discovery: "We were opening our diaries to discuss various things. Out comes two pictures of Camilla." To make things even more awkward, it was during this same voyage that Charles received a gift from his mistress. "On our honeymoon, cufflinks arrive on his wrists. Two C's entwined like the Chanel C." Charles confirmed that the cufflinks were from Camilla.

King Charles asked his staff to hide the affair

Even after Princess Diana discovered proof of the affair, King Charles III insisted that there was nothing going on between him and the future Queen Camilla. This was particularly clear when Diana realized that Camilla had bought Charles some new cufflinks. Shocked by the audacity of this present, Diana confronted her husband about it. In her interview with the biographer Andrew Morton, Diana described this incident: "I said, 'Camilla gave you those, didn't she?' He said, 'Yes, so what's wrong? They're a present from a friend.' And, boy, did we have a row. Jealously, total jealousy" (via YouTube).  

Moving forward from that incident, Charles began taking extra steps to hide their relationship. According to the foreword in Morton's biography, "Diana: Her True Story" (via Reader's Digest), Charles even enlisted his staff to help him cover up the affair. Per the biographer's account, whenever Charles and Camilla went out, the prince's valet was responsible for drawing on the TV listing guide. Apparently, this was to make it seem like Charles had spent an evening in front of the television rather than in Camilla's arms. His chef was also asked to prepare meals for him on the evenings that he was gone so that Diana wouldn't guess his plans. Perhaps most shockingly, when Charles broke his arm, he asked his staff to track Diana's location. This would ensure that the princess wouldn't appear at the hospital while Camilla was visiting.

Charles and Camilla sneaked off during a birthday party

King Charles III and now-Queen Camilla may have tried their best to hide their affair, but keeping such a huge secret from Princess Diana proved impossible. Indeed, many of their friends were aware of the illicit relationship, a fact which became clear at a birthday party. Diana remembered this event in the tapes she prepared for Andrew Morton's biography, sharing, "One of the bravest moments of my entire ten years was when we went to this ghastly party. It was the 40th birthday party for Camilla's sister, and nobody expected me to turn up" (via YouTube).

When Diana did show up at the party, the atmosphere grew tense. Things started going downhill when, in the middle of the festivities, Charles and Camilla sneaked off together. As Diana told Morton, "We were all upstairs, and I was chatting away, and I suddenly noticed there was no Camilla and no Charles upstairs. So this disturbs me." Diana decided to go look for the pair, prompting an immediate reaction from the other party guests. 

Essentially, it seemed that everybody understood that Charles and Camilla were together. Thus, the other guests tried to prevent Diana from looking for the duo. Diana went on to recall, "So, I make my way to go downstairs for him. I know what I'm going to confront myself with. They try and stop me from going downstairs." Apparently, she was told, "Diana, don't go down there."

Diana confronted Camilla about the affair

Princess Diana might have expected to walk in on King Charles III and now-Queen Camilla at that fateful birthday party. However, what she discovered instead was the opportunity to confront her rival. When Diana did ultimately walk down the stairs, she found Charles and Camilla chatting up another guest. Diana then decided to take control of the situation. She later told Andrew Morton that her inner voice declared, "This is your moment" (via YouTube).

Mustering her inner courage, Diana remembered that she "went and sat down and joined in the conversation as though we were best friends." She then proceeded to address her husband's lover, saying, "Camilla, I'd love to have a word with you, if possible." The two women sat down together, and Diana sought to clarify, once and for all, that she was hardly in the dark about Charles and Camilla's romance. In her interview with Morton, Diana explained, "I was terrified of her. And I said, "Camilla, I'd just like you to know that I know exactly what's going on.'" 

In a somewhat awkward move, Camilla continued to push the narrative that there was nothing going on between her and Charles. According to Diana, her rival replied, "I don't know what you're talking about.'" By then, however, the jig was up. Diana was certain about what she knew. She pressed forward, stating, "I know what's going on between you and Charles."

Diana was not the only one suspicious of Charles and Camilla's friendship

Princess Diana was not alone in suspecting that King Charles III was secretly seeing Camilla Parker Bowles. Long before Diana went on the BBC and declared that "there were three of [them] in this marriage" (via YouTube), rumors began to swirl among members of the British press. Royal correspondents, in particular, perceived tension in Charles and Diana's marriage. Some even wondered about the king's friendship with Camilla. 

In the documentary "Love, Duty and Betrayal: The Story of Diana, Camilla, and King Charles" (via YouTube), Roy Greenslade discussed his past as an executive at the British tabloid, The Sun. He revealed that his job was to quiz the royal correspondents about Charles and Diana's relationship. When these journalists shared their thoughts about the state of the Waleses' marriage, their concerns were brushed aside. Greenslade recalled, "In many ways, what our reporters — Harry, Arnold, and Judy — would come back and tell us, we didn't want to believe. They got the most severe questioning. Can you be right on this? Have you got a second source?"

Because of the intensity of this questioning, the press did not immediately break the story of Charles and Camilla's affair. At one point, the media even obtained photographs of the couple on a romantic Mediterranean getaway. However, the tabloids chose not to run the photos for fear of destroying the fairytale image of the Waleses' relationship. 

After Tampongate, there was no ignoring the truth

It might have taken the British press a while to figure out what Princess Diana had long understood, but eventually, the tabloids caught on. This was largely because, in 1993, King Charles III's affair with Camilla Parker Bowles became impossible to ignore. It was in that year that two separate publications got their hands on tapes recording Charles and Camilla's pillow talk. The British outlet "The Sunday Mirror" and the Australian magazine "The People" both ran transcripts of the dirty conversation. 

The published recordings were, ultimately, so graphic that Charles' relationship to Camilla became common knowledge. As per the transcript published in the Mirror, Charles was not shy about expressing his passion for Camilla in the tapes. At one point he complained that he couldn't get enough of her: "What about me? The trouble is I need you several times a week." He later added, "Oh, God. I'll just live inside your trousers or something. It would be much easier!" 

Apparently, Camilla found this comment hilarious. Laughing, she teased her prince, "What are you going to turn into, a pair of knickers? Oh, you're going to come back as a pair of knickers!" Charles then told his love that he might come back as her Tampax. This comment created a massive scandal, prompting the public to refer to the leaked tapes as "Tampongate." From that point forward, nobody doubted that Charles and Camilla were together.