There have been different statements on why the couple’s relationship ended in 1973. Robert Lacey wrote in his 2008 book, Royal: Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, that Charles had met Camilla too early, and that he had not asked her to wait for him when he went overseas for military duties. Sarah Bradford wrote in her 2007 book, Diana, that a member of the close circle of his great-uncle Lord Mountbatten claimed Mountbatten arranged for Charles to be taken overseas to end the relationship with Camilla to make way for an engagement between his granddaughter, Amanda Knatchbull, and Charles. Some sources suggest the Queen Mother did not approve of the marriage because she wanted Charles to marry one of the Spencer family granddaughters of her close friend, Lady Fermoy. Other sources also suggest Camilla did not want to marry Charles but instead wanted to marry Andrew Parker Bowles since she had an on and off relationship with Parker Bowles that began in the 1960s or that Charles had decided he would not marry until he was thirty years old.
Overall, the majority of royal biographers have agreed that even if Charles and Camilla wanted to marry or did try for approval to get married, it would have been declined, because according to Charles’s cousin and godmother Patricia Mountbatten, palace courtiers at that time found Camilla unsuitable as a wife for the future king. In 2005, she stated, “With hindsight, you can say that Charles should have married Camilla when he first had the chance. They were ideally suited, we know that now. But it wasn’t possible.” “it wouldn’t have been possible, not then” When Charles heard of the engagement of Camilla and Andrew Parker Bowles in 1973, he wrote to Lord Mountbatten: “I suppose the feeling of emptiness will pass eventually.” Nevertheless, they remained friends. In August 1979, Lord Mountbatten was assassinated by the IRA. Charles was grief-stricken and relied heavily on Camilla for solace. During this period, rumours began circulating among family, friends and neighbours that they had rekindled their intimate relationship. A source close to Camilla confirmed that by 1980 they had indeed rekindled as lovers. However, other sources assert it occurred earlier. Reportedly, Parker Bowles gave consent to the relationship during their marriage, while he also saw other women. In 1981, Charles married Lady Diana Spencer.
The affair became public knowledge in the press a decade later, with the publication of Diana: Her True Story in 1992, followed by the Camillagate scandal in 1993, wherein an intimate telephone conversation between Camilla and Charles was secretly recorded and the transcripts were published in the tabloids. The book and tape instantly damaged Charles’s reputation. Meanwhile, the press vilified Camilla. In 1994, Charles finally spoke about his relationship with Camilla in a televised interview with Jonathan Dimbleby. He told Dimbleby in the interview, “Mrs. Parker Bowles is a great friend of mine…a friend for a very long time. She will continue to be a friend for a long time.” The same year he admitted in his biography written by Dimbleby that the relationship between him and Camilla rekindled after his marriage had “irretrievably broken down” in 1986. Following this, the Parker Bowleses announced their own divorce the following year, having been living apart for some time, and a year later, Andrew Parker Bowles married his partner Rosemary Pitman (who later died in 2010).