The Truth About Princess Anne's Relationship With Camilla Parker Bowles

The royal family all but demands attention. Their lives — both private and public — are of massive intrigue, and while they spend copious amounts of energy on maintaining their squeaky clean personal images, they've all been dealt their fair share of drama. One such dynamic that absolutely oozes attention is the relationship between Princess Anne — Queen Elizabeth's only daughter — and Camilla Parker Bowles, now queen consort. Camilla married King Charles III when he was still heir to the throne in 2005, but her relationship with Anne goes back way farther than that. So how did these two meet? What did their early lives consist of?

Those remotely aware of royal ins and outs likely know that Camilla ran with the royal crowd from a young age. She was a London debutante back in the 1960s, and given her proximity to the city's social scene, she brushed elbows with the royals at polo matches and other high-class events. She met Charles in 1970, through Anne we might add, and the rest is history.

But, for two women who are at the core of the royal family, Camilla and Anne have had their fair share of ups and downs. This is the truth about Princess Anne's relationship with Camilla.

Camilla, Queen Consort, and King Charles met through Princess Anne

There's nothing better than meeting a potential significant other through mutual friends, or is there? As noted by Express, the queen consort then known as Camilla Parker Bowles met her future husband, King Charles III, through Princess Anne — the situation, however, was not as peachy as it seems. Royal author Penny Junor told Express that it was through Anne's relationship with Andrew Parker Bowles that Camilla and Charles met, and, thus, their "little fling" began.

We'll get into Anne's relationship with Andrew in a bit, but what did the initial melting pot between the royals and both Parker Bowles look like? As noted by Town & Country, Camilla and Charles met at a polo match (surprise, surprise) in 1970, and Camilla was quick with her remarks. She reportedly said, "My great-grandmother was the mistress of your great-great-grandfather. I feel we have something in common." Yes, she was that bold. Of course, Anne was involved with Andrew at the time, and Charles left soon after for his Royal Navy service. When he came back, Camilla was engaged to Andrew, which undoubtedly left both the then-prince and princess rather snubbed.

Princess Anne was not particularly welcoming to Camilla

When Camilla, Queen Consort, and King Charles III married in 2005, Princess Anne reportedly gave Camilla the cold shoulder. It should be noted that a number of the royals weren't thrilled about the nuptials, and Queen Elizabeth didn't even attend the ceremony. Body language expert Judi James told Express that after their wedding, members of the royal family looked less than enthused about the new couple. "At the poses after their wedding the Queen and Philip stood back and away from the couple on the steps, which prevented any happy family photographs being taken and it looks very much as though Anne is equally unwilling to look anything more than frosty here, too," James said. 

Not exactly a warm welcome, but it should be noted that Anne was rather standoffish to Princess Diana, too. As noted by E! News, Anne "had no time for Diana" and often found her relationship with the media irritating. Anne reportedly had (and still has) a "much more traditional approach to monarchy and royal duty," which could explain her frosty behavior to Diana and her less-than-welcoming behavior toward Camilla.

Princess Anne was initially involved with Camilla's husband in the early 1970s

Camilla, Queen Consort, and Princess Anne haven't had the easiest relationship, and that could be thanks to their involvement with the same man. Sally Bedell Smith, King Charles III's biographer, told Town & Country that Anne and Andrew Parker Bowles were romantically involved in the 1970s. The two were reportedly quite taken with each other, but the royal family put their foot down when the idea of marriage came into play. Why? Andrew was Catholic, and, as a member of the Church of England, Anne wasn't allowed to marry him. That's not to say that their relationship dwindled, but Andrew did meet Camilla and he popped the question.

As noted by Independent, Andrew and Camilla were married on July 4, 1973, at the Guards Chapel, and their reception was held at St. James's Palace. A number of royals were in attendance, including the Queen Mother, Princess Margaret, and, you guessed it, Anne. Was there a twinge of jealousy? No one will ever really know, but given the speedy timeline of Andrew and Camilla's relationship — and the hastiness of it following the romance between Andrew and Anne — it's hard not to jump to conclusions.

Things were reportedly very cold between Anne and Camilla after she married King Charles

Princess Anne was not particularly welcoming to either Diana Spencer or Camilla Parker Bowles, as mentioned, but how much of that did Camilla clue into? According to royal author Penny Junor, the queen consort was well aware of Anne's cold demeanor and was rather "intimidated" by the princess for years following her marriage to King Charles III. As noted by The News, "Anne's chilly conduct was extremely nerve-racking for Camilla," in part because issues from the past had not yet been resolved.

Nothing complicates matters more than romance, and from what Junor assessed, Anne took some time to warm up to the idea of having the woman who married one of her loves around. "The affair between Andrew and Anne came to nothing but I think they were hugely fond of each other. And they remain hugely fond of each other. And I think Camilla has always had a bit of a problem with that," Junor said. She continued by saying that Anne has been known for her "abrasive" demeanor, and given the personal history between the women, Camilla appeared to be intimidated by her for quite some time.

Camilla may have tried to get back at Princess Anne and Andrew Parker Bowles

We all know the famous cheating scandal that rocked the royal family, but what if we told you that the queen consort, then known as Camilla Parker Bowles, set her sights on King Charles III because of Princess Anne? Leading royal biographer Penny Junor asserted that Camilla got with Charles in order to spite her then-boyfriend, Andrew Parker Bowles, who was, by all accounts, still romantically attached to Anne. It was allegedly a "tit-for-tat" situation, according to The News, and if it hadn't been for Andrew's infidelity, Camilla might have never pursued a relationship with Charles.

While speaking at the Henley Literary Festival, Junor asserted that Camilla was "passionately in love" with Andrew, but his romance with Anne and other women pushed her over the edge, as noted by the Daily Mail. Camilla reportedly caught Andrew cheating, slashed his tires, and wrote a message to him on his car in lipstick. She then reportedly set her gaze on Charles, and the rest is history. "When she was introduced to Charles ... 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," Junor said. Talk about drama.

Camilla's ex is the godfather of Princess Anne's daughter

Despite the drama and the presence of Camilla, Queen Consort, in the royal family, Princess Anne is still very close to Andrew Parker Bowles. In fact, as noted by Harper's Bazaar, Andrew is the godfather of Zara Phillips, Anne's daughter. And to make matters even weirder, King Charles III is the godfather of Tom Parker Bowles, Camilla and Andrew's son. We'll give you a minute to sit with this information — because there's a lot of inter-family dynamics going on.

So, what is it with Andrew that has him so enwrapped in Anne's life, as well as his ex's? Harper's Bazaar noted that Andrew had a very close relationship with the royals since childhood, as his father was a good friend of the Queen Mother's. Andrew was even a page boy at Queen Elizabeth's 1953 coronation. By all means, the relationship between Camilla and Anne has yet another layer of complication to it, as there are a lot of exes, a lot of history, and a lot of drama to afford.

Princess Anne considered Camilla to be 'opportunistic,' according to one royal insider

Since stepping down as working royals, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have attracted a lot of attention. It has been speculated that King Charles III is taking steps to shrink the size of the royal family and while Harry and Meghan are certainly on the outs, questions about others' roles in the royal family have arisen — and Princess Anne reportedly had something to say about it. 

Back in 2021, a royal insider told New Idea, "Anne has always found Camilla opportunistic and, with her and Prince Charles' roles being widened in 2021, she's really throwing her weight around." The insider continued by sharing that Anne had grown frustrated with the dynamic, as she "rarely gets any alone time with her brother" to share her thoughts. It was also reported that Camilla wanted Anne to simply let go of any past resentments toward her, but that the princess was still holding on to rooted grudges.

Princess Anne and Camilla, Queen Consort, have a mutual goal

It's clear that there is some very historical tension between Princess Anne and Camilla, Queen Consort, but, according to body language expert Judi James, they may have come to a place of understanding, as they are both trying to support and maintain the monarchy.

In the wake of Prince Philip's death, the already assertive King Charles III, then Prince Charles, once again stepped up to the plate, bringing his wife and sister along with him. James told Express that while "the relationship between Anne and Camilla might have been difficult," they appeared to be making strides toward understanding. "Senior royals do [seem] to have closed ranks around the Queen recently, creating an elite squad of Charles, Camilla and Anne, Kate and William and Edward and Sophie," James said. 

James further explained that there will likely always be distance between Camilla and Anne, but "they are beginning to look as though shared goals in terms of their ... desire to sustain the image of the royal firm have brought them closer together."

Princess Anne reportedly paved the way for Camilla and Charles to get married

Romantic relationships have seemingly put Princess Anne and Camilla, Queen Consort, at odds, but the princess undoubtedly helped Camilla and King Charles III when it came to asserting their relationship. As asserted by Express, Anne was the first royal to not only divorce her spouse, but then to marry the man she had an affair with. Here are the details. While married to Mark Phillips, Anne cheated on him with Timothy Lawrence. She subsequently filed for divorce from Phillips in 1992, and, very soon after, got married to Lawrence. 

This by no means was a traditional thing to ever happen in the otherwise morally upright royal family, but it's very safe to say that her trailblazing ways helped Camilla out enormously. Camilla was famously Charles' mistress, as the two maintained their relationship throughout Charles' marriage to Diana Spencer. After divorcing Diana and navigating her tragic death, Charles married Camilla in 2005. It's safe to say that, without Anne, Camilla would have had no precedent to rely on when it came to marrying the man she loved. So while these two have certainly had their ups and downs, they have helped each other in a way.

Princess Anne and Camilla have shared some lighthearted moments

For all the history, all the drama, all the awkward moments, and all the tense body language, Camilla, Queen Consort, and Princess Anne have fortunately been able to share some lighthearted moments. As noted by Express, both Camilla and Anne attended the royal family Christmas Day church service in 2019, and, by coincidence, had both chosen to wear very striking purple outfits. Anne reportedly approached the church's entrance and joined Camilla, who quickly noticed that they both were dressed in the same bold color. "Camilla pointed this out with a fun, elbowing gesture aimed at Anne and the two women laughed together," expert Judi James noted. 

James also pointed to the fact that observing a jovial Anne in public is a rare occasion. "With any other royal but Anne this might have been unimportant," James said, but the moment allowed for a rather pleasant interaction between the two women.

Does Princess Anne have to curtsy to Camilla, Queen Consort?

Royal protocol regarding who bows to whom is a complicated subject, as there are both rules and customs that people either have to follow or can choose to follow.

Since King Charles III ascended the throne and Camilla has become queen consort, protocol has changed. As noted by Page Six, people who meet the king will have to bow or curtsy to him and then refer to him as "Your Majesty." Once pleasantries have been exchanged, he is to be called "Sir." As for Camilla, she is no longer required to curtsy to anyone in the royal family — including Princess Anne — but likely will curtsy to other monarchs from around the world — a sign of respect, according to Hello! Magazine.

However, here's where things get a little complicated. As designated in a rule change set in place in 2005 by the late Queen Elizabeth II, princesses born into the family, like Princesses Anne or Charlotte, technically rank above a woman who marries into the family, like Camilla. In fact, it was Anne who was particularly passionate about the rule, titled the Precedence Of The Royal Family To Be Observed At Court. "This was done at the behest of Princess Anne and Princess Alexandra, both of whom have given their adult lives to royal service and who saw no reason to make obeisance to this — at the time — highly unpopular woman," a former courtier explained to the Daily Mail. "Princess Anne, in ­particular, was extremely chilly towards Camilla and made it clear she had no intention of curtseying to her ever."

Anne and Camilla's relationship has 'thawed' with time

It's safe to say that Princess Anne and Camilla, Queen Consort, have shared a twisted history that only two women in the royal family can. And while you'd think these two may be at odds for the foreseeable future, body language expert Judi James told Express that their more recent interactions at public events point to a friendly relationship.

"Given their past histories, with Anne having dated Camilla's ex-husband, the relationship between Anne and Camilla might have been difficult," James attested. "History like that would normally create a sense of embarrassment or discomfort from someone in Anne's position. [In one photo] she looked as though she might be ignoring or cutting Camilla rather than avoiding her, suggesting she is taking a slow-thaw route to her sister-in-law. But now, the two women seem very tolerant of one another to the point of often looking like old friends."

While James said Anne was "slow to thaw" to the new queen consort after she and King Charles III tied the knot, it's clear that the two women have been able to find some sort of common ground. It is well-documented that both share a passion for horses and the outdoors, and they are both highly committed to the monarchy. "Camilla and Anne's most frequent bouts of body language together suggest they have harvested all the many things they have in common to relax into the role of friends," James concluded.