The Truth About Queen Elizabeth's Relationship With Camilla Parker Bowles

We know you're lying if you say that the royal family doesn't interest you — what really goes on behind closed doors intrigues just about everyone, and there is one relationship that has been fraught since the very beginning — that of Queen Elizabeth and Camilla Parker Bowles. If your knowledge of the royal family comes from "The Crown," let us give you a quick debrief. Prince Charles loved (and still loves) Camilla and maintained his adoration for her well into his marriage to Diana Spencer. Camilla was deemed unfit to marry the future king, but that didn't stop them from staying together (even if it was behind closed doors or exclusively on the phone).

Of course, the relationship that Camilla and Charles shared was torture for Diana, who spent much of her marriage fighting to be seen by her husband. She even confronted Camilla about the affair at one point, reportedly saying, "I'd just like you to know that I know exactly what is going on," according to Reader's Digest. But while all of this was going on, what did Charles' mom think of her son's affair and, of course, the woman at the center of it all? Here's the truth about Queen Elizabeth's relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles.

Queen Elizabeth reportedly refused to acknowledge Camilla Parker Bowles

It's always a bit tough when your family doesn't warm up to the person you're romantically involved with — a situation that a lot of us have probably been in. But what if your mom literally refused to even acknowledge your significant other? That's pretty brutal, but that's what happened between Queen Elizabeth and Camilla Parker Bowles. 

As noted by the BBC, Camilla had been "a dark figure" on the royal family, as far as the queen was concerned, especially given that Diana Spencer credited Camilla with the failure of her marriage. As such, Elizabeth "refused even to acknowledge [Camilla's] existence," as the BBC shared, which we can only imagine led to some really awkward conversations. 

That's not to say that Elizabeth had the easiest relationship with Diana, either, though. As noted by Biography, Elizabeth initially sympathized with Diana and tried to extend some sort of understanding to the marriage difficulties that the young princess and Charles were having. But as far as Elizabeth was concerned, "duty and service came first," and Diana's unwillingness to "get on with her life" took its toll on their relationship. Granted, that's probably better than being completely ignored.

Queen Elizabeth reportedly had this to say about Camilla Parker Bowles following a boozy evening

Queen Elizabeth and members of the royal family at large are known for keeping their personal problems to themselves. As such, they're fairly tight-lipped in public and rarely give insight into their actual feelings. However, after a couple of cocktails, the queen reportedly spoke her mind about Camilla Parker Bowles, and Prince Charles was said to have heard the whole thing. 

Journalist Tom Bower claimed in his book "Rebel Prince: The Power and Passion and Defiance of Prince Charles" that the heir to the throne spoke with Elizabeth about her lack of enthusiasm when it came to inviting Camilla into the family (via Daily Mail). We can't imagine that he was prepared for her answer. The queen had allegedly downed a couple of martinis, "and to Charles' surprise she replied forcefully: She would not condone his adultery, nor forgive Camilla for not leaving Charles alone to allow his marriage to recover," Bower wrote in his book. She then allegedly called Camilla "that wicked woman" and expressed that she wanted "nothing to do with her." Charles reportedly retreated from the situation and immediately called Camilla crying over what had happened. Talk about drama.

Camilla Parker Bowles had to work hard to earn the queen's approval

A woman who changed the landscape of the monarchy, Camilla Parker Bowles has had a long road to win public approval following her affair with Prince Charles. Privately, the story seems to have gone down in a rather similar fashion as well.

Following the death of Princess Diana in 1997, Prince Charles stayed in his relationship with his longtime lover for a number of years until it became apparent that the only solution was to marry her. According to Vanity Fair, Prince Charles knew his reputation had suffered on account of his affair throughout his marriage and his subsequent treatment of his former wife. Understanding the volatility and power of public opinion, his mother, Queen Elizabeth, reportedly steered clear of her son's beau. 

The Express cited royal experts who claim that, upon Camilla's arrival into the royal circle, Queen Elizabeth saw her as a possible liability to the throne.

Queen Elizabeth allegedly instructed Prince Charles' secretary to break up him and Camilla

Here's where we get into the nitty gritty details, and it's not a cute look for Queen Elizabeth. As reported by Vanity Fair, Sir Michael Peat came to Buckingham Palace in 2002 to occupy the role as Prince Charles' private secretary. But instead of keeping tabs on Charles' schedule and organizing his appearances, Peat was allegedly introduced by the queen to help break Charle and Camilla Parker Bowles up. Yes, you read that correctly. Elizabeth reportedly believed that the relationship was distracting Charles from his work at hand and that the union in general had to be dissolved.

What the queen probably didn't bank on, however, was that Peat quickly took Charles' side and was supportive of Charles and Camilla's marriage. Peat's support, however, did come with a little bit of a catch — he expressed to Charles that he couldn't keep going around town with Camilla as an unmarried man, because the optics just really didn't look good. As such, Charles took the plunge and pursued his marital union with Camilla. But wow. The queen sure had some guts to make such a request.

Queen Elizabeth reportedly felt this way about Camilla Parker Bowles' relationship with her son

So if we've established anything, it's that Queen Elizabeth did not like Camilla Parker Bowles, especially when she was still coming onto the royal scene. As noted by The Telegraph, the queen eventually accepted the fact that Charles and Camilla would be spotted in public together, but in private, she didn't support of the relationship and certainly did not see it as an asset. 

Despite the very obvious affection that Camilla had (and has) for Charles and vice versa, Elizabeth allegedly believed that Charles had "put personal concerns before duty," and if you're a fan of "The Crown," then you know just how important dedication to the monarchy is to the royal family. It probably wouldn't surprise you either to learn that Elizabeth was not the only family member who disapproved of Camilla. Lord Mountbatten, Charles' uncle, wrote a letter to the heir and said, "It is disturbing for women to have experiences if they have to remain on a pedestal after marriage," as noted by Marie Claire. We're taking a moment to pause for the very obvious sexism. One thing is for sure, though — Camilla was not a fan favorite.

After years of tension, Queen Elizabeth and Camilla Parker Bowles finally met in person

Camilla Parker Bowles met Prince Charles in 1970, as noted by the Independent. The two shared a deep friendship, as well as an on-again, off-again romantic relationship, interwoven with their marriages to other people. But even when Charles made it apparent that he'd be pursuing a relationship with Camilla after his divorce from Diana Spencer, it took until 2000 for Queen Elizabeth to finally be willing to meet the future Duchess of Cornwall. 

As noted by the BBC, Elizabeth agreed to formally meet Camilla during the former king of Greece's 60th birthday party, at which members of the royal family were in attendance. King Constantine of Greece held the party at Charles' home in Gloucestershire, and it was there that the queen was finally willing to sit down with the woman who, in her mind, had caused so many problems for the royals. As the BBC reported at the time, Camilla, Charles, and the queen sat at a table "and so ended a much-publicized stand-off" that had been plaguing the family for years. 

It was also reported that Constantine could have been a factor in the meeting taking place, as he had been encouraging Charles throughout the process. But 30 years later ... wow.

The queen reportedly missed this occasion because Camilla Parker Bowles was in attendance

There's not getting along with someone, and then there's actually not being able to be in the same room together. Unfortunately, much of Camilla Parker Bowles and Queen Elizabeth's early relationship existed in the latter scenario. As noted by the BBC and as aforementioned, Elizabeth and Camilla didn't formally meet until 2000, but before they came face to face, Elizabeth refused to be in the same room as her. The queen was in fact so adamant about it that she reportedly chose to miss Prince Charles' 50th birthday party solely because Camilla was in attendance. 

As you can imagine, Charles was reportedly "extremely upset" by Elizabeth's stance on the event, but it certainly seems as though she was unwilling to budge. Nicholas Witchell, the royal correspondent for the BBC, added that Elizabeth's trepidation and "persistent reluctance" in recognizing Camilla was in part due to "the problems the relationship could create for the monarchy." Recall that Charles' 50th birthday took place just two years after Diana Spencer died, so the public was notably suspicious of Camilla, as well as Charles' movements in the aftermath of her death.

The queen did not attend Camilla Parker Bowles' wedding to Prince Charles for this reason

It can't be a good thing when your future in-laws refuse to come to your wedding, but that was the situation that Camilla Parker Bowles was in when she married Prince Charles in 2005. As noted by The Telegraph, there was a lot of speculation as to why Queen Elizabeth refused to attend the wedding ceremony, and while the reports of tension were upsetting to her, she also didn't go on the record and correct them. Instead, the queen insisted that she didn't attend the wedding because as the head of the Church of England, it would've been against her position's moral compass. 

According to The Telegraph, Elizabeth told a friend, "I am not able to go. I do not feel that my position ... permits it." However, for a good period of time, it was reported that the queen was embarrassed over the wedding, as it couldn't be held in a church given that both Charles and Camilla had previously been married. Despite this, a royal insider insisted that the "venue was never the issue," but rather the decision not to attend was due to the queen's religious obligations. Still, not the best look.

Why the queen said no to using family gold for Camilla Parker Bowles' wedding ring

Queen Elizabeth blamed her lack of presence at Camilla Parker Bowles' wedding on religious reasons, but it appears as though there was some angsty tension between the two as Camilla and Prince Charles' nuptials approached. Journalist Tom Bower claimed in his book "Rebel Prince: The Power and Passion and Defiance of Prince Charles" that Camilla was not extended invites to events from the queen (via People), and it all feels a little personal. 

As noted by the Daily Mail, in a move that seems fairly harsh, the queen also indicated that "there was very little special Welsh gold left to make Camilla's wedding ring." This is a big ouch, and we'll explain why. According to Great British Life, a special type of Welsh gold, from supplier Clogau, has been used to create royal wedding bands since 1911. Ben Roberts, Clogau's managing director, said, "Clogau has supplied the gold for each generation's wedding rings since" the early 1910s, so to hint that there "wasn't enough" for Camilla's ring says a lot about the queen's feelings about her.

Camilla Parker Bowles was seen as 'unmarriageable' by the queen

A lot of the tension between Camilla Parker Bowles and Queen Elizabeth begs the question — why didn't Prince Charles just marry Camilla in the first place? That certainly would've saved everyone from a lot of drama, and Diana Spencer would've been spared from a marriage that was not in her favor. But according to The Sun, Camilla was seen by Elizabeth (and Prince Philip) as "unmarriageable," and she was reportedly banned from meeting the monarch. 

Royal biographer Christopher Wilson said, "The queen and Prince Philip knew everything about Prince Charles' relationship with Camilla; the Queen said I will not have that woman in my presence." Yikes. So what was the whole "unmarriageable" thing about? Camilla had dated other men before her relationship with Charles took off. As such, the queen and the royal family saw her as sordid, and not at all the type of woman who could become a ruler. Historian Dr. Piers Brendon said that it was "vital" to the royal family that the woman who married Charles "was a virgin" with "no past" (via Express). Charles dated a bunch of women before Diana, so let's take a moment to recognize the double standard.

What the queen said at Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles' wedding

Things have been pretty rough for Camilla Parker Bowles and Queen Elizabeth. From the "wicked woman" comment to Prince Charles' 50th birthday and everything in between, things have not been easy. However, during Camilla and Charles' wedding celebration, the queen used the occasion as an opportunity to dispel the rumors of animosity between her and the new Duchess of Cornwall. 

When it was Elizabeth's turn to speak, she gave rather touching remarks, in her own way. Anyone who has paid attention to the royals knows that horses, horse racing, and pretty much all horse-related things are big deals, and it just so happened that Charles and Camilla's wedding day was the same day as the Grand National horse race (one of the queen's horses was competing). As such, Elizabeth announced at the wedding that her horse had won and that she was equally as happy to be inviting Charles and Camilla to the "winners enclosure." 

"I'm very proud and wish them well," she said, as noted by Vanity Fair. "My son is home and dry with the woman he loves."

Queen Elizabeth and Camilla Parker Bowles have had some very awkward body language

There are some truths that even the royal family can't hide, and a lot of what we know about the dynamic between Queen Elizabeth and Camilla Parker Bowles comes from their shared body language. As recently as December 2020, the queen and Camilla have (subconsciously) provided some insight into their relationship, and it's all due to how they interact with one another. 

As noted by Express, the royal family's Christmas 2020 reunion — the first time they had been in public together since the start of COVID-19 — provided an opportunity to observe Elizabeth and Camilla together. According to body language expert Judi James, "Camilla's 'awkward' stance was a stark contrast to the 'confident' queen." James shared that even though the family was socially distanced, the queen exuded authority and signaled to the world that she was still in charge. But in a stark contrast, Camilla seemed far less down for the encounter. 

"The queen then actively chats to the band, engaging [Prince] Charles in the conversation while Camilla stands back slightly, with her rigidly-placed arms suggesting an air of tension or awkwardness," James said. Body language really does speak volumes.

Camilla Parker Bowles and Queen Elizabeth support this royal cause together

Before you think that the relationship between Camilla Parker Bowles and Queen Elizabeth is all bad, it should be noted that they do have some similar interests. As you may know, members of the royal family have different organizations and causes that they advocate for as patrons, and many are closely aligned with their interests. Camilla and the queen both share an interest in the performing arts, specifically ballet, and it has impacted their public lives. 

As noted by People, Camilla revealed that she started taking ballet classes online as a way to stay active during the COVID-19 lockdown. "I thought it was going to be very funny and I was going to laugh at everybody toppling over next door to me, but I think we concentrate so hard we don't even know what our friend next door is doing," she said. But don't think that Camilla and Elizabeth's shared interest stops there. In the same appearance where Camilla shared her quarantine habit, it was announced that she had become the vice-patron of the Royal Academy of Dance. Who is the original patron? None other than the queen. So it's not completely out of the question that the two women share some common goals.

Queen Elizabeth and Camilla Parker Bowles have bonded over this shared interest

It's pretty safe to say that over the years, the public tension between Camilla Parker Bowles and Queen Elizabeth has decreased. It's clear that the two are never going to be the best of friends, but they have been spotted together on a number of occasions. Of course, it helps when they get to share a common interest, and the two women just happen to be massive fans of all horse-related sports and events. 

As noted by People, Elizabeth and Camilla joined each other at the Royal Windsor Horse Show in 2015, and appeared to have quite a good time together. The sighting of the two began with Camilla greeting the queen hello, with the standard double cheek kiss and curtsy, and then they were off to enjoy the event. Both were seen engaging in what looked like very cordial and happy conversation, and they even watched one of the queen's horses compete and place in the Novice Heavyweight Hunter contest. 

It's always a bit easier to get along with someone when you can share a common interest, so if we can issue any small piece of advice to the royal family, it's to always get Elizabeth and Camilla together at a horse show or ballet performance.

The media played a role in Queen Elizabeth's relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles

Since the royal family bows to public opinion to keep their positions secure, it makes sense that the queen had reservations about being connected to his son's former mistress. Vanity Fair chronicled the intense public relations campaign that the couple underwent to help the public accept their eventual marriage. In 2005, the outlet noted, Prince Charles asked Camilla to marry him after speaking with his sons and his mother. Of course, the debate over her new title, how the service should be carried out and more schisms raged on. Rather than taking the title Princess of Wales, she would be called the Duchess of Cornwall.

Nearly 16 years later, the queen seems friendly as ever with her daughter-in-law. As the British people softened in their attitudes towards the duchess, it appears that the queen's followed suit. Indeed, in March 2021, the two teamed up for a video conferencing call in which they spoke with people on the front lines of the pandemic, thanking them for their service, People reported. 

Even though the first years were rocky and uncomfortable, the queen gave her blessing to her son's marriage, asked Camilla to sit next to her for the Diamond Jubilee procession and bestowed various honors upon her daughter-in-law (via Express). Today, the two seem to get along just fine as the ice has thawed around Prince Charles and the situation with Princess Diana.