A timeline of Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall’s controversial, long-lasting relationship

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Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall’s relationship has not always been easy. John Stillwell/WPA Pool/Getty Images
  • Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall first met in the early 1970s, but they both married other people.
  • Years after they both got divorced from their respective spouses, Charles and Camilla got married in 2005.
  • Camilla had to win over several members of the royal family once she and Charles went public.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The love story of Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall spans almost 50 years, but their journey to romance was hardly a conventional one.

As Netflix’s newest season of “The Crown” plays out its version of the early days of the couple’s relationship, fans may be wondering if some of the drama’s plotlines are based on real-life situations and scandals.

Read on for a complete timeline of Charles and Camilla’s controversial, long-lasting relationship.


Early 1970s: Charles and Camilla’s love story began.

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Camilla and Charles first met at a polo match. AP Photo/Christine Nesbitt, Pool

Charles and Camilla reportedly met for the first time at a Polo match at Windsor Castle in 1970, setting the stage for an on-and-off relationship that would span the next five decades.

Although the pair appeared to be smitten, Prince Charles’ service in the Royal Navy, which began in 1972, put an end to their fledgling romance.


February 1973: Camilla got engaged to Andrew Parker Bowles while Charles was deployed.

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Their relationship fizzled after Charles joined the Royal Navy. Dennis Oulds/Central Press/Getty Images

While Charles was away in the Royal Navy, Camilla accepted the proposal of an army cavalry officer named Andrew Parker Bowles.


July 1973: Camilla married Andrew Parker Bowles, setting the stage for a platonic relationship with Charles.

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Camilla married Andrew Parker Bowles. Chris Jackson/Getty Images

In the years after the Parker Bowles tied the knot in July of 1973, she and her husband developed a close friendship with Charles, according to People magazine.

Charles was even named godfather to the Parker Bowles’ first son, Thomas.


Late 1970s: Charles met then-16-year-old Lady Diana Spencer.

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Charles was dating Diana’s older sister when they first met. Patrick Riviere/Getty Images

The pair met in November 1977 when Diana was 16 years old and Charles was dating her older sister.

Charles and Diana began dating in July 1980 and only met up 13 times before Charles proposed the next year.


July 29, 1981: Charles and Diana were married.

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Diana and Charles’ ceremony was called the wedding of the century. AP

Diana and Charles were married in a fairytale ceremony that, at the time, was called “the wedding of the century.”


June 21, 1982: Charles and Diana’s oldest son, Prince William, was born.

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Princess Diana holding newborn Prince William outside of the hospital. AP Photos

Charles and Diana welcomed their first child, Prince William, about a year after their wedding.

By this time, Camilla and Andrew Parker Bowles had already welcomed two children – Thomas and Laura.


September 15, 1984: Charles and Diana welcome their second child, Prince Harry.

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Prince Harry was born in 1984. AP Photo

When Prince Harry was born, Charles was reportedly slightly disappointed because he wanted a girl.

According to Good Housekeeping, Diana’s biography “Diana: Her True Story – in Her Own Words” said that she knew her whole pregnancy that she was carrying a boy, but she refrained from telling Charles because she knew he would be disappointed.


1986: Charles and Camilla reportedly began having an affair.

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Their affair has been the topic of many reports and books about the royals. AP Photo/David Cheskin/Pool)

In the 2017 documentary “Diana: in Her Own Words,” archival footage showed that Charles and Diana’s relationship turned rocky soon after their wedding because of Charles’ close relationship with Camilla.

According to Sally Bedell Smith’s biography of Prince Charles, he and Camilla reportedly began having an affair in 1986.

And, per Penny Junor’s book “The Duchess: Camilla Parker Bowles and the Love Affair That Rocked the Crown,” Andrew Parker Bowles was well aware of the infidelity and did nothing to stop it.

Diana also reportedly knew about the affair, according to royal biographer Andrew Morton’s interview with the princess.


November 1992: “Camillagate” shone a light on Charles and Camilla’s affair.

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Diana and Camilla had a complicated relationship. Express Newspapers/Getty Images

In the winter of 1992, an intimate transcript of a1989 phone call between Charles and Camilla was released to the public.

They talked, among other things, about Charles being transformed into a pair of her “knickers” or her tampon because Charles said, “I’ll just live inside your trousers or something. It would be much easier.”

The scandal was dubbed “Camillagate” by the press.


December 1992: Charles and Diana formally separated.

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The announcement was confirmed by the Prime Minister. AP Photo/Press Association

Shortly after “Camillagate” made headlines, Prime Minister John Major confirmed that the Prince and Princess of Wales had formally separated.

Their split raised questions about Charles’ future relationships because he was not permitted to divorce and remarry in the Church of England at that time.


June 1994: Charles publicly admitted to having an affair.

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Charles publicly admitted the affair for the first time in 1994. Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

According to The New York Times, following months of speculation, Prince Charles finally admitted to being unfaithful during an interview with documentary filmmaker Jonathan Dimbleby.

When Dimbleby asked him if he was “faithful and honorable” during his marriage to Diana, he said, “Yes, absolutely. Until it became irretrievably broken down, us both having tried.”

Although he didn’t specifically name Camilla as his lover, he called the other woman “a great friend of mine,” and someone who “will continue to be a friend for a very long time.”

Later, Dimbleby’s biography of the prince, titled “The Prince of Wales: A Biography,” confirmed that Camilla was the woman in question.


January 1995: Camilla filed for divorce from Andrew Parker Bowles.

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Camilla and Andrew Parker Bowles announced they were getting divorced in 1995. AP/Alistair Grant

The announcement of Camilla and Andrew Parker Bowles’ planned divorce set off a media firestorm with reports that Charles and Diana were next.


August 1996: Charles and Diana finalised their divorce.

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Charles and Diana got divorced a year after Camilla and Andrew Parker Bowles. AP

Charles and Diana made their divorce official in the summer of 1996.


July 1997: Charles threw a birthday party for Camilla.

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Charles and Camilla in 1979. Getty Images

After his divorce from Diana was finalised, Charles began trying to endear Camilla to the public and to his family.

Doing so included hosting a lavish 50th birthday party for her at his home of Highgrove, the Associated Press reported. Diana was reportedly not invited.


August 31, 1997: Princess Diana died after a tragic car crash.

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Princess Diana died after a car crash. Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

Nearly a year after the former couple signed their divorce papers, Diana died after a car crash in Paris.

Amidst the outpouring of public grief and mourning, Charles travelled to Paris to bring Diana’s body back to England, and temporarily put his campaign to publicly introduce Camilla as his girlfriend on hold.


1998: Camilla reportedly met William for the first time, and the queen seemingly snubbed Prince Charles for his new relationship.

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The royal family was reluctant to get to know Camilla. Chris Jackson/Getty Images

After the public’s emotional response to Diana’s passing, Camilla and Charles kept their relationship out of the public eye. However, they were still trying to get the royal family to warm up to it.

William reportedly met Camilla for the first time in 1998, though Harry did not come along to the initial introduction.

Later that year, as the Los Angeles Times reported, the queen was notably not in attendance at Charles’ 50th birthday. Many perceived as a snub toward her son’s relationship since Camilla was at the event.


January 1999: Camilla and Charles were publicly photographed together as a couple.

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Camilla and Charles were photographed as an official couple in 1999. ROTA/Getty Images

Camilla and Charles started 1999 off on a fresh foot as they took their relationship public for the first time. The pair were photographed leaving Camilla’s sister’s birthday party at the Ritz Hotel.


August 1999: Camilla reportedly accompanied Charles and his sons on a trip to Greece.

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The family started to warm to Camilla. Jo Hale/Getty Images

It appeared that William and Harry were starting to warm up to their future stepmother in the summer of 1999.

According to the BBC, the foursome took a trip to Greece, which seemed to signal that things were becoming more serious with the couple.


June 2000: In an indirect move, the queen seemingly agreed to formally meet Camilla.

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Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles, and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. Chris Jackson/Getty Images

According to The New York Times, in 2000, the queen accepted an invitation to the King of Greece’s 60th birthday party held at Highgrove. As she knew that Camilla would be there, her gesture was seen by many as a tacit acceptance of the relationship.


August 2003: Camilla and Charles moved in together.

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They moved in together before they were married in 2005. Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Camilla and Charles moved into Clarence House together in the summer of 2003.


February 2005: The couple announced their engagement.

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Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall’s relationship has not always been easy. John Stillwell/WPA Pool/Getty Images

The longtime couple announced their engagement on February 10, 2005, immediately fuelling speculation about Camilla’s new title.

Many wondered if she would be known as queen or princess consort in the event that Charles ascended the throne, and whether she would take the title of Princess of Wales (the name given to the late Princess Diana) in the meantime.

Sidestepping any potential controversy, Buckingham Palace confirmed that the queen was gifting her new daughter-in-law the title of Duchess of Cornwall and that she’d be known as princess consort, not Queen Camilla, if Charles became king.


April 9, 2005: The longtime couple officially got married.

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35 years after they first met, Charles and Camilla got married. Hugo Burnand/Pool/Getty Images

About 35 years after their first meeting, the prince and the Duchess of Cornwall were married in a civil ceremony at Windsor Guildhall.

Although the queen and her husband, Prince Phillip, were not in attendance at the ceremony, they came to the reception at Windsor Castle, according to The Sun.


August 31, 2007: Camilla chose not to attend the memorial service recognising the 10-year anniversary of Princess Diana’s death.

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Camilla did not attend this 10-year memorial service for Princess Diana. Leon Neal/AP; Pool

On the 10-year anniversary of Diana’s death, the royal family held a memorial service at Buckingham Palace.

Camilla was invited to the service, but she decided that it was best if she didn’t attend.

According to CNN, she said in a statement, “I accepted and wanted to support them, however, on reflection I believe my attendance could divert attention from the purpose of the occasion which is to focus on the life and service of Diana.”


2012: Camilla received a new title from the queen and accompanied her during her Diamond Jubilee later that year.

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Queen Elizabeth II and Camilla at the Diamond Jubilee festivities in 2012. Lefteris Pitarakis/AP

In 2012, Camilla was granted the title of Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order from the queen.

Later that year, Camilla rode alongside her during the Diamond Jubilee – which celebrated the queen’s 60th anniversary as monarch.


April 9, 2015: The couple celebrated their 10-year wedding anniversary.

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Camilla and Charles celebrated their 10 years of marriage. Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters

The month before their anniversary, Charles spoke highly of his relationship with Camilla in an interview with CNN.

“It’s always marvellous to have somebody who, you know, you feel understands and wants to encourage. Although she certainly pokes fun if I get too serious about things. And all that helps,” he said.


June 9, 2016: Camilla joined the queen’s privy council.

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Becoming a member of the council is a great honour. Dominic Lipinski/AP Images

The Privy Council of the United Kingdom is a group of the queen’s most senior advisors, so Camilla’s addition was a great honour.

Most reports agree that Camilla and William were granted access to the council to ensure that they will both be present in the event that Charles ascends the throne.


November 15, 2020: Charles and Camilla travelled to Germany for the country’s National Day of Mourning.

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Prince Charles and Camilla attended a wreath-laying ceremony at the Neue Wache memorial. POOL/Reuters

The couple travelled to Germany to honour the country’s National Day of Mourning for victims of war – marking their first official overseas trip since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

They attended the wreath-laying ceremony at the Neue Wache memorial, and Prince Charles gave a speech highlighting the UK and Germany’s “enduring connections” in a post-Brexit world.

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