Why Did Prince Charles Marry Princess Diana Instead of Camilla Parker Bowles?

Princess Diana and Camilla Parker Bowles | Express Newspapers/Getty Images

The marriage between Prince Charles and Princess Diana wasn’t a happy one. The two tied the knot in 1981 but by the princess’ own admission, things were never very good.

In her explosive 1995 Panorama interview, she talked about the prince’s infidelity and referred to Camilla Parker Bowles when she said, “Well, there were three of us in this marriage so it was a bit crowded.”

The princess also spoke about her sex life or lack thereof with the Prince of Wales and blamed that on his mistress. Diana said they only had relations “once every three weeks and I kept thinking … And then I followed a pattern, he used to see his lady once every three weeks before we got married.”

Diana then ended up having extramarital affairs as well. Their marriage completely crumbled and in 1996 they finally divorced, one year before the princess’ tragic death.

But given all the heartache that their union caused, many have always wondered why the future king didn’t just marry Camilla instead of Diana. Well, he couldn’t. Here’s the reason why.

The reason Charles couldn’t marry Camilla

Prince Charles and Princess Diana | EPA/AFP/Getty Images

Prince Charles met his second wife through a mutual friend in 1971. The two immediately hit it off and began seeing one another. In 1973, however, Charles left to go overseas with the Royal Navy. It was during that time that Camilla reconnected with her former flame, Andrew Bowles, and he proposed to her. The two wed the following year but when Charles returned he and Camilla continued to see each other even though she was married at the time.

Queen Elizabeth II learned of the affair and was reportedly very upset because Andrew was the Queen Mother‘s godson. Her Majesty even ended up banning Camilla from the palace for a while.

Although it’s believed that Charles always wanted to marry Camilla he knew that wasn’t possible. For one, she didn’t come from a sufficient aristocratic background which did not make her a proper suitor for the man who would one day be king. Also, back then, the royals wanted the future monarch to marry a virgin. Camilla was not but Diana was so, therefore, he was pushed to marry his first wife.

Charles and Camilla’s marriage and her relationship with his sons

Camilla and Charles’ wedding photo | Hugo Burnand/Pool/Getty Images

Charles and Camilla continued seeing one another after his divorce from Diana but following her death, they tried to keep their relationship quiet. Eventually, they were urged to go public and Charles decided he wanted to marry her but he had to ask for his mother’s permission. That was granted and in 2005, they said “I do.” However, the queen and Prince Philip did not go to the ceremony. Queen Elizabeth felt as the head of the Church of England it would have been inappropriate for her to attend.

So how do Charles’ sons feel about his marriage to the Duchess of Cornwall? It’s been reported that William was especially resistant to meet Parker Bowles when his father first told the princes about her. Harry was also angry and reportedly did not want anything to do with the woman their mother called “Charles’ lady.” But time usually heals all wounds and over the years both Harry and William recognized how happy Parker Bowles made their dad and formed a relationship with her.

“She is a wonderful woman and she’s made our father very very happy, which is the most important thing,” Harry said in a 2005 interview. “William and I love her to bits.”

Read more: Do Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles Sleep in Separate Beds?

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