Earlier this year, we discussed the excerpts from a biography of Prince Charles. What I didn’t mention at the time was that it seemed like odd timing for Charles to agree to a semi-authorized book to be released just as everything was ramping up for coverage of the twentieth anniversary of Princess Diana’s death. Now, something even weirder: Camilla got her own semi-authorized biography too. It’s called The Duchess: the Untold Story, by Penny Junor. People Magazine has come excerpts and wow, are they inappropriate this year.
Prince Charles was sad when Camilla decided to marry. Junor details Prince Charles’s sadness when Camilla decided to marry Andrew Parker Bowles in 1973. Although she and Charles had met two years prior and fallen in love, she was not deemed “sufficiently aristocratic” to be the future king’s wife. What’s more, she was not a virgin, which was then considered a prerequisite by Charles’s great uncle and close adviser, Lord Mountbatten.
Camilla dumped Charles by letter. “She wrote to Charles herself to tell him. Her letter broke the prince’s heart. In great distress, he fired off anguished letters of his own to his nearest and dearest. It seemed to him particularly cruel, he wrote in one letter, that after ‘such a blissful, peaceful and mutually happy relationship’, fate had decreed that it should last a mere six months.” Before the July 4 wedding, he made one “last-ditch” attempt to stop her from marrying Parker Bowles by writing her a letter, to no avail.
Charles was attracted to Camilla immediately. The attraction was “immediate . . . He loved the fact that she smiled with her eyes as well as her mouth, and laughed at the same silly things as he did. He also liked that she was so natural and easy and friendly, not in any way overawed by him, not fawning or sycophantic. In short, he was very taken with her, and after that first meeting he began ringing her up.”
Charles ignored Diana on their honeymoon. According to the book, Diana resented Charles for sitting for hours painting watercolors during their honeymoon onboard the HMS Britannia, so one day she destroyed his painting and his equipment.
The photo of Camilla. Junor claims Charles and Diana were consulting their schedules when a photograph of Camilla fell out of Charles’ diary. Later, Diana noticed the prince was wearing a pair of gold cufflinks engraved with interwoven Cs — which she took to mean Charles and Camilla. “It’s hard to believe that anyone as intelligent and well-read as the Prince of Wales could be so stupid — so utterly incapable of imagining what a new wife might conclude if her husband carried a photograph of his old girlfriend in his diary,” Junor says of the cufflink incident, according to the new except.
What an unnamed friend of Charles says about Charles & Diana: “He made a huge mistake. You can sympathize with Diana — oh God, yes. Put that way, he was the architect of the disaster . . . also he wouldn’t have had the sensitivity. He’s very interested in objective things, but not subjective, so he couldn’t have understood the complexities of her feelings.”
Reigniting his affair with Camilla. Camilla and Charles renewed their affair in 1986 after friends urged the prince to reconnect with Camilla after they grew worried about his happiness and possibly heading towards a nervous breakdown. According to friends, Camilla was “the only person who might be able to lift his spirits,” Junor claims. Diana, for her part, had already started her affair with cavalry major James Hewitt, Junor says.
Please don’t let this biography act as revisionist history towards what was a really terrible moment for the late Princess of Wales. Camilla and Charles’ affair cooled down for a few years, in the early years of the Wales’ marriage. But Camilla and Charles started up again way before Diana and James Hewitt began. I also believe it’s revisionist history to treat Camilla and Charles’ love story as some kind of grand “they were pining away for each other for years, they were kept apart by his family” sort of thing. Tina Brown’s The Diana Chronicles made a really good point about this: Camilla is the love of Charles’ life, but Andrew Parker Bowles was the love of Camilla’s life. Camilla didn’t marry Andrew Parker Bowles because Charles’ family didn’t think she was aristocratic enough or whatever – Camilla married Andrew because he was a catch, because he was “dishy” and because she loved him.
Photos courtesy of WENN.