Why King Charles Proposed to Camilla After a "Humiliating" Incident
A royal expert reveals the snub that led the then-prince to make it official.
King Charles and Queen Camilla's love story is one that spans decades and has had many ups and downs—most notably, the fact that they engaged in an affair while he was still married to Princess Diana and she was married to Andrew Parker Bowles. But, in 2005, the couple turned the scandal into an official relationship by tying the knot. Before that, they had been together publicly since 1999—so why did they finally marry after six years? According to the Daily Mail, a royal expert says that Charles was prompted to finally propose to Camilla after she was "humiliated" by an event.
According to the newspaper, whether a marriage between Charles and Camilla would be accepted by the Church of England was initially a factor in them not getting married. As the heir to the throne, Charles was the future head of the church, and it was frowned upon both the couple were both divorced and had had an affair. But, times changed, and according to writer Tina Brown, George Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, approved of a possible marriage.
But that wasn't the event that led to Charles and Camilla getting engaged. Brown writes in her 2022 book The Palace Papers that an "infuriating social incident" got the ball rolling. In 2004, Camilla and Charles, as well as other members of the royal family, were invited to the wedding of Charles' godson Edward Van Cutsem and his fiancé Lady Tamara Grosvenor. Before the celebration, they learned that Camilla wouldn't be seated with the royal family.
"[T]hat 'Dutch Cow' as (Camilla reportedly called [mother of the groom] Emilie Van Cutsem) had stuck her on the other side of the cathedral with the bride's friends at the back and told her that she could not enter or leave by the main door," Brown writes. Emilie claimed that she was following protocol for such an event, but Camilla was reportedly upset by the decision nonetheless.
"She would not be humiliated in front of all of Charles's snotty circle and, more importantly, the Royal Family," Brown writes. "The Prince had to choose between attending the wedding without her or snubbing his closest friends and his godson. It was Camilla's line in the sand." The pair did not end up attending anyway, as Charles took on an engagement to meet with the families of military veterans the same day. The Daily Mail also reported on the supposed snub at the time.
Soon after, Charles met with Camilla's father, Major Bruce Shand. According to the Daily Mail, Shand confronted the prince about his daughter's place in the royal world and accused him of "allowing her to live in limbo." In 2017's The Duchess: The Untold Story by Penny Junor, the author writes, "'He took the Prince aside and said 'I want to meet my maker knowing my daughter's all right.'"
Charles and Camilla's engagement was announced in February 2005. "The Duke of Edinburgh and I are very happy that the Prince of Wales and Mrs. Parker Bowles are to marry," Queen Elizabeth II said in a statement, as reported by The Guardian. Rowan Williams, the then-Archbishop of Canterbury said, "These arrangements have my strong support and are consistent with Church of England guidelines concerning remarriage, which the Prince of Wales fully accepts as a committed Anglican and as prospective Supreme Governor of the Church of England."
The couple wed two months later, on April 9, 2005. They were married in a small civil ceremony that included their family members, followed by a blessing of their marriage at Windsor Castle that was attended by 800 people, according to The New York Times. After wedding Charles, Camilla received the title Duchess of Cornwall. Today, she is Queen Camilla, following Charles ascent to the throne after the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth.
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