Princess Diana famously declared that there were three people in her marriage to Prince Charles, with the third being Charles’s longtime love, Camilla Parker Bowles. Based on facts leading up to Charles and Diana’s royal wedding, it seems this was the situation from the start.
In her new biography of Prince Charles, Sally Bedell Smith shares what happened behind the scenes ahead of the big day. Right before the wedding, Diana overheard Charles “murmuring endearments” to Camilla on the phone. Bedell Smith writes that “sensing a threat, she asked Charles if he still loved Camilla. His reply was genuine but ingenuous: he explained that she had been “one of his most intimate friends” but that their “intimacy had ended.” While there was evidence that Charles and Camilla had ended their physical relationship at that time, it’s not exactly what you want to hear right before your wedding.
Charles also decided to buy gifts for a dozen of his close friends, including Camilla, ahead of the ceremony. Bedell Smith explains that “Camilla’s was a gold bracelet personalized with a blue enamel disk engraved with the initials ‘GF.’ The monogram stood for ‘Girl Friday,’ Charles’s nickname for his intimate ‘friend.'” Diana discovered the gift and confronted Charles. Soon after, Diana broke down following their wedding rehearsal. She was “devastated” and recalled “bawling her eyes out” in the car with the “Camilla thing rearing its head.”
If that wasn’t bad enough, Camilla was also invited to the wedding at St. Paul’s Cathedral – her then-husband, Andrew Parker Bowles, actually escorted Charles and Diana’s horse-drawn carriage back to Buckingham Palace. Bedell Smith writes that Camilla acted as a disturbing distraction to Diana on what should have been a happy day: “Diana later said she had been so fixated on Camilla that as her father walked slowly up the aisle at St. Paul’s, she raked the congregation until her eyes settled on her nemesis, with her ‘pale grey, veiled pillbox hat.'” Following the procession back to the palace, Camilla and Andrew were noticeably not invited to the wedding breakfast hosted for 120 guests. At least Diana had that..
Diana, Princess of Wales (Diana Frances; née Spencer; 1 July 1961 – 31 August 1997), was a member of the British royal family as the first wife of Charles, Prince of Wales, the heir apparent to the British throne. She was the mother of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Prince Harry.
Diana was born into the Spencer family, a family of British nobility with royal ancestry and was the youngest daughter of John Spencer, Viscount Althorp, and Frances Roche. She grew up in Park House, situated on the Sandringham estate, and was educated in England and Switzerland. In 1975—after her father inherited the title of Earl Spencer—she became known as Lady Diana Spencer. She came to prominence in February 1981 when her engagement to Prince Charles was announced to the world.
Diana’s wedding to the Prince of Wales took place at St Paul’s Cathedral on 29 July 1981 and reached a global television audience of over 750 million people. During her marriage, Diana was Princess of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall, Duchess of Rothesay, and Countess of Chester. The marriage produced two sons, the princes William and Harry, who were then respectively second and third in the line of succession to the British throne. As Princess of Wales, Diana undertook royal duties on behalf of the Queen and represented her at functions overseas. She was celebrated for her charity work and for her support of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. Diana was involved with dozens of charities including London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital for children, of which she was president from 1989. She also raised awareness and advocated ways to help people affected with HIV/AIDS, cancer, and mental illness.