Camilla's Life Was Never The Same After Meeting Prince Charles

It's safe to say that falling in love can change your life. However, despite the pros that affection and a life partner can bring, hardly anything is simple when it comes to relationships. And imagine if you dealt with it while also on the global stage? Such was the case for Camilla Parker Bowles — while she may have loved Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, after meeting him at a polo match in the 1970s, the reality was far from simple, and their path together was anything but smooth.

Of course, we pretty much are all familiar with Camilla and Charles — both as individuals and as a couple — and their cemented status as royal insiders and undeniable future as leaders of the monarchy. However, while Charles has been groomed for royal life from the start, Camilla's journey has been far from predictable. Her life was never the same after meeting Charles, and we have all the information you need to know.

Camilla and Charles met at a polo match and were instantly taken with each other

Camilla Parker Bowles wasn't always the woman at the center of scandal but rather a well-raised girl with an appetite for all things equestrian-related. Her path in life ultimately changed in the early 1970s — while she was brought up in a well-to-do family, Camilla's journey through life became intertwined with royalty, bringing both love and heartbreak into her life. 

As noted by BBC News, Camilla and Prince Charles initially met at a polo event in Windsor Great Park. Reports of their first interaction are mixed – People noted that Camilla reportedly made a comment to the young prince about her great-grandmother, who was known for her role as a royal mistress. "My great-grandmother was the mistress of your great-great-grandfather. I feel we have something in common," Camilla allegedly said. Other accounts have the pair meeting via a mutual friend and sharing common ground in that capacity — either way, the two hit it off immediately. Of course, as many of us know, Camilla and Charles' timing was a bit awry. While smitten with one another, Charles' duty in the Royal Navy interjected.

Camilla was ready to get married, but Charles was not

We all know what it's like to be in a relationship that's unbalanced — sometimes you're ready to commit, but the person you're with just can't see it through. Being in this position can be brutal, as was the case between Camilla Parker Bowles and Prince Charles. As noted by Express, Charles was "besotted" with Camilla, but his naval training took him out of the country, leaving Camilla to pretty much fend for her (romantic) self. As such, she sparked a connection with Andrew Parker Bowles, and the two eventually tied the knot. 

It might come as a surprise to some that Camilla moved on from her romance with Charles so quickly, but, as Biography noted, she had been essentially waiting for marriage her entire adult life. Coming from an upper-class family, Camilla did not have a career or profession that would allow her to provide for herself, but rather she expected (and was expected) to become a wife and a mother. She did not go to school but, rather, took short-term jobs, waiting to eventually walk down the aisle.

Camilla became a wife for the first time, straining her relationship with the prince

Camilla Parker Bowles' life drastically changed once she realized that Prince Charles was not going to pop the question. But, despite his hesitation, Charles was still incredibly taken aback by Camilla's decision to marry Andrew Parker Bowles. As noted by Vanity Fair, Charles didn't understand why "such a blissful peaceful and mutually happy relationship" went awry. Of course, Camilla had expectations of what life would look like, and her seven-year relationship with Andrew allowed her to settle into the role of a wife and mother. 

To make matters worse, however, for the heartbroken prince, he watched as the "wedding of the year" took place between his former love and Andrew. Even the Queen Mother,  Charles' grandmother, and Princess Anne attended the nuptials, marking what many thought to be the end of Charles and Camilla's affair. "Everything in life is timing," Jane Churchill, a royal wedding decorator, said, per the magazine. "Charles and Camilla were both quite young when they met, and she was going out with Andrew, and Charles was abroad and away, and she probably didn't know him as well then, and so she married Andrew."

Camilla was exposed to royal scrutiny after meeting Prince Charles

Throughout Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles' love affair, many people have asked why the two didn't initially get married in the first place — why were Andrew Parker Bowles and Diana Spencer dragged through the divorce mud if the two loved each other from the start? As it turns out, Camilla's life before meeting Charles may have had some impact. 

As noted by Marie Claire, Charles' great-uncle, Lord Mountbatten, wrote a letter to Charles explaining that Camilla was not a suitable choice. "I think it is disturbing for women to have experiences if they have to remain on a pedestal after marriage," Mountbatten wrote, alluding to Camilla's past dating experience. We should note that Charles was encouraged to play the dating field and "sow his oats" before settling down, just so that the hypocrisy is clear. If that scrutiny wasn't bad enough, Camilla was reportedly viewed as "earthy" or "common," as she didn't have a title of her own. Ultimately, the royal family saw her as an "early test run" for Charles, but never someone who was suitable to be by his side in public.

Camilla's life changed again when her friendship with Diana Spencer went public

If Camilla Parker Bowles' life hadn't drastically changed because of her love affair with Prince Charles already, her path took another sharp turn when she met Diana Spencer. Camilla and Charles remained very close — even if they were no longer romantically linked — and Camilla's approval of Charles' future wife meant a great deal to him. As noted by Vanity Fair, Camilla supported the union and reportedly saw Diana as someone she could influence.

"[Diana] was young enough to be m[ol]ded to the role of wife and mother according to the special needs of the institution," biographer Jonathan Dimbleby wrote, noting just how powerful Camilla's hand was in the shaping of the future royal. In fact, while history has certainly pitted these two women against each other, Tatler noted that Diana and Camilla were actually quite close at one point. Camilla was 14 years older than Diana and had experience in the public eye. As a result, Camilla invited Diana to her and Andrew Parker Bowles' home in the country on a regular basis, and the two women even supported Charles' polo competitions together.

After Camilla became a mom in the 1980s, her marriage took a turn for the worse

You'd think that after a decade of whispers, Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles would've distanced themselves from one another, but, as noted by CheatSheet, the two were pretty inseparable. Charles and Camilla continued to integrate each other into their lives and even involved Camilla's children. Yes, despite being married to Andrew Parker Bowles and having a romantic history with Charles, Camilla made the heir to the throne the godfather to her son, Tom Parker Bowles. If that wasn't an indication that things were changing for the pair, we don't know what is.

By the mid-1980s, Charles and Camilla were back in each other's lives romantically and began their sordid affair. Years of cheating and deterioration finally led Diana Spencer to confront Camilla, and the account of the interaction leaves us speechless. As noted by Oprah Daily, Diana approached Camilla at a party in 1989 and laid it all out on the table. "I said, 'I know what's going on between you and Charles and I just want you to know that,'" Diana said of the interaction. It was the beginning of the end.

Once Camilla and Charles' affair was exposed, Camilla became public enemy No. 1

It seems as though everyone had an inkling that something was going on between Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles while they were both married to other people, but Camilla's life drastically changed again when Charles publicly admitted to their affair. As noted by The New York Times back in 1994, Charles' sit-down interview — as part of an extensive documentary about his life — did not bode well, as he confessed he had not been faithful to Diana Spencer. 

When asked if he had maintained his marriage, Charles said, "Yes, until it became irretrievably broken down, us both having tried." The floodgates opened at that moment, and Camilla's life was drastically altered as a result. Camilla essentially became a prisoner in her own home because of the hounding paparazzi (and a public that was incredibly displeased). "I couldn't really go anywhere," she admitted in an interview with the Daily Mail. "It was horrid. It was a deeply unpleasant time and I wouldn't want to put my worst enemy through it. I couldn't have survived it without my family."

Camilla's life changed drastically after she and Charles divorced their spouses

Prince Charles may have gotten some serious flack for admitting to his affair, but it set the wheels in motion for him and Camilla Parker Bowles. As noted by History, Charles and Diana Spencer officially separated in 1992 — and after Diana's explosive interview with Martin Bashir in which she admitted there were "three" people in her marriage (just one of the times Diana broke royal rules) — after Queen Elizabeth "urged" them to do so.

While Charles' marriage was up in flames, Camilla's union to Andrew Parker Bowles was also collapsing. As noted by Express, the couple — who had been married for two decades — officially called it quits in January 1995. "We have grown apart to such an extent that, with the exception of our children and a lasting friendship, there is little of common interest between us," the couple's statement read. "We have therefore decided to seek divorce." We can't imagine just how speculative this time period was for both Charles and Camilla, as the entire country (and the world) watched for what would come next for the heir to the British throne.

The plan to publicly reintroduce Camilla and Charles as a couple was delayed in 1997

So what on earth would two people — who had been in love for three decades — do once they're both divorced? Get together. Camilla Parker Bowles' life changed once again when both she and Prince Charles were able to strike out on their own, free from the constraints of two unhappy marriages. It didn't take long for Charles and Camilla to re-establish their romantic relationship outside of their divorces, and, as noted by The Guardian, the heir to the throne came up with a plan to reintroduce Camilla to the public. 

Charles was set to celebrate his 50th birthday and reportedly wanted to use the occasion to give his "long-time companion" a more substantial public role (and, no doubt, quell some of the frustrations among the British public). Until that point, Charles and Camilla hadn't been spotted in public together, and the campaign to bring Camilla into the royal forefront hinged on a successful re-entry into public life. Of course, everything changed when Diana Spencer unexpectedly died following a tragic car accident in Paris, after which the plan to bring Camilla into the public eye was "abandoned."

Camilla became again exposed to the royal family's opinions of her

You would think that, with time, the royal family would've warmed up to the possibility of Camilla Parker Bowles joining their ranks. While things are certainly better now than they were, Camilla endured yet more drama when royal family members — namely Queen Elizabeth — did not hold back their thoughts on her, despite her and Prince Charles' individual divorces. 

As per Marie Claire, the queen wanted Camilla "gone" from the royal circle even after both divorces were finalized. To make matters even worse, the queen allegedly let Charles have it over his affair, per People. Investigative journalist Tom Bower revealed in his biography of the prince that, after downing a couple drinks, she "would not condone his adultery, nor forgive Camilla for not leaving Charles alone to allow his marriage to recover." The queen even reportedly called Camilla "that wicked woman," further saying, "I want nothing to do with her." Charles reportedly left the conversation besotted and called Camilla "tearfully," recounting his mother's harsh words. Who knew that all it took was a couple of James Bond-esque drinks to really get the royal drama brewing?

Camilla finally married Prince Charles in 2005

After decades of drama, Camilla Parker Bowles' life changed for the better when she finally married Prince Charles. The couple waited until 2005 to officially tie the knot — perhaps in an extended nod to the late Diana Spencer's memory — and had a wedding with far less pomp and circumstance than we know royal weddings to have. Queen Elizabeth finally came around regarding the nuptials, too. And, although she didn't attend the wedding due to her position as head of the Church of England, she did give the couple her blessing. 

Santa Sebag Montefiore, Charles' goddaughter, opened up to Vanity Fair about the celebrated day and shared what it meant for the couple. "There was a real sense of triumph at Saint George's Chapel when they came in, these two people who had gone through so much to get there," Montefiore said. "Everybody was so pleased for them — filled with this feeling that they're together at last, and without any doubt about Camilla's position, finally." Her thoughts were echoed by decorator Jane Churchill, who put it simply, "Charles has ended up with his soul mate."

Camilla became a stepmother but not without its difficulties

To say that Camilla Parker Bowles' life changed after marrying Prince Charles is a grave understatement. Not only did she take on the life of a royal family member, but she stepped into the position once held by Diana Spencer. Not only did the public take issue with this, but Charles' sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, reportedly had a tough time, too. As noted by The U.S. Sun, the nature of the early relationship between Camilla and the young princes was a case of "one step forward, two steps back," as it was fraught with "awkward" and "tense" moments. 

As it turns out, Camilla was the one who was allegedly nervous about meeting the boys, and reports suggest she turned to get a drink when it was suggested she meet William ahead of his 16th birthday. While the initial meeting between Camilla and William went surprisingly well, the young prince was reportedly upset that details of the meeting were leaked to the press. From then on, there was an "icy indifference" between Camilla and the princes — while thawed now, those early days did not sound easy.

Public outcry over Camilla and Charles' affair reignited after The Crown aired

In the 2000s, it seemed as though Camilla Parker Bowles and Prince Charles were settling into their lives together. The public appeared to accept Camilla as a member of the royal family, and the pair went about their business with little pushback. Things change rapidly for those in the public eye, though, and, in late 2020, Camilla suffered yet another drastic blow when Season 4 of "The Crown" dropped. The Netflix drama has captivated audiences for years, and Season 4 focuses predominantly on Charles and Diana's marriage, including all its highs and lows.

Despite the dramatic and overblown nature of the show, "The Crown" reignited public hatred of Camilla for being the "other woman" in the relationship that made Diana so miserable. As noted by Express, the revived scrutiny got so bad that Charles and Camilla turned off their Twitter comments, as they were being mercilessly dragged by the public. With time, Diana's story has gained even more traction in the public eye — namely with the critically-acclaimed film "Spencer" — so it's hard to say if the reinvigorated passion against Camilla will die down anytime soon.

Camilla Parker Bowles is now slated to become 'queen consort'

Despite being 74 years old at the time of publication, Camilla Parker Bowles' life is still drastically changing with time. As the direct heir to the British throne, Prince Charles has been subtly moving people and resources into place for when he ascends the throne, and, in conjunction with his efforts to consolidate the royal family, Queen Elizabeth made a stunning announcement that caught quite a number of people off guard.

But first, let's backtrack. Titles are a big thing in the royal family, and when Charles and Camilla got married in 2005, it was announced that Camilla would adopt the title "princess consort" when Charles ascends the throne. While there had been some speculation regarding her future title, it was understood that "princess consort" was going to be it. Well, during the kickoff of her Platinum Jubilee, the queen officially announced it to be her "sincere wish" that Camilla adopt the title of "queen consort" when Charles becomes king. "I know you will give him and his wife Camilla the same support that you have given me," the queen noted in her announcement – just the latest news in the ongoing saga.