Were Princess Diana and Camilla Parker Bowles Ever Friends?

Amy Mackelden
·4-min read
Photo credit: Express Newspapers - Getty Images
Photo credit: Express Newspapers - Getty Images

From Harper's BAZAAR

The famous love triangle between Prince Charles, Princess Diana, and Camilla Parker Bowles has been re-created for Season 4 of The Crown. Documented both on and off the screen, the complicated situation has received much attention, with both Charles and Diana even opening up to the public about the messy love affair that eventually ended their marriage.

But were Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and Princess Diana ever friends before the romantic drama ensued? Here's everything you need to know about Diana's relationship with Camilla.

Camilla was in Charles's life when he met Diana.

The reason that Diana spent time with Camilla is because Charles kept his ex-girlfriend close. Charles and Camilla initially dated in the early '70s but split up when Charles left for the navy in February 1973. "Although the smitten prince courted her for six months, he failed to propose before returning to sea," according to People. Camilla went on to marry her ex-boyfriend Andrew Parker Bowles in July, just months after her split from the prince.

Charles remained close with Camilla, even once she was married. In fact, Charles is her son Tom's godfather, according to E! News, giving the prince a permanent reason to stay in Camilla's life. As a result, when Charles started dating Diana, his friendship with Camilla remained. Basically, it was inevitable that Camilla and Diana would be around each other.

Charles concealed the extent of his relationship with Camilla from Diana.

In her book The Duchess: Camilla Parker Bowles and the Love Affair That Rocked the Crown, royal expert Penny Junor wrote (via GoodHousekeeping.com), "Instead of explaining to Diana at the outset that Camilla was an old girlfriend, he had presented her as nothing more than a friend." Junor continued, "It didn't occur to him that she needed to know before someone else told her ... He came clean after the engagement, admitting that Camilla had been one of his most intimate friends, but reassured Diana that from now on there would be no other women."

Photos show Diana and Camilla at the Ludlow Racecourse together.

Though it's unlikely that Diana and Camilla shared any sort of meaningful friendship, they were photographed together on October 24, 1980, at the Ludlow Racecourse, where they watched Charles compete in a horse race. Photos show the pair in conversation and looking slightly jovial in one another's company.

Photo credit: PA Images - Getty Images
Photo credit: PA Images - Getty Images

Diana first met the prince in 1977 when Charles was dating her sister Lady Sarah Spencer. At the time, she was 16 and he was 29, The Telegraph reported. It wasn't until Charles and Diana reunited at the New Grove house of Philip de Pass, a friend of Diana's, in the summer of 1980 that romance started to blossom. Hence, when Camilla and Diana were pictured together in October 1980, Diana was already known as the prince's new girlfriend.

Presumably, they were cordial, but it wasn't long before Camilla's presence would become a problem in Diana's relationship with Charles.

Camilla attended Charles and Diana's wedding.

Charles announced his engagement to Lady Diana Spencer in February 1981, and on July 29 that same year, the couple's fairy-tale wedding took place at St. Paul's Cathedral in London. However, reflecting on her nuptials during a 1991 interview with her biographer, Andrew Morton, Diana revealed (via Good Housekeeping.com) that Camilla's presence at the wedding was devastating.

"I knew she was in there, of course. I looked for her," Diana explained. "So walking down the aisle, I spotted Camilla, pale gray, veiled pillbox hat saw it all, her son Tom standing on a chair. To this day you know—vivid memory."

Judging by Diana's reaction to Camilla attending the royal wedding, it would seem that the princess was less than enthralled with Charles's ex.

Diana confronted Camilla about the affair.

Furthermore, People reported that in conversation with Morton, Diana revealed that she confronted Camilla about the affair she'd been having with Charles, saying, "I was terrified of her." She continued, "I said, 'I know what's going on between you and Charles and I just want you to know that. … She said to me: 'You've got everything you ever wanted. You've got all the men in the world fall in love with you and you've got two beautiful children, what more do you want?'"

Diana also famously gave a 1995 interview to BBC One's Panorama, during which she said, "There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded."

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