Prince Charles Revealed the Moment He Realized He Wanted to Marry Camilla Parker Bowles

Prince Charles realized in December 1972 that Camilla Parker Bowles was his soulmate and that he wanted to marry her—but did nothing about it.

united kingdom october 21 prince charles and camilla parker bowles in 1979 exact day date not certain note special fee applies photo by tim grahamgetty images
(Image credit: Tim Graham)
  • Even though they didn't marry until 2005, Prince Charles has said that he realized now-wife Camilla Parker Bowles was his "soulmate" in December 1972.
  • The big realization came to Charles during a weekend he and Camilla spent together before an eight-month deployment he had scheduled with the Royal Navy, but he didn't make his feelings clear to her, according to royal biographer Robert Lacey.
  • Because they had made no real commitments to each other, Camilla ended up getting engaged the following spring to her first husband, Andrew Parker Bowles.

Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles had a long road to their happily ever after, but Charles actually knew she was his "soulmate" before either of them married other people.

According to royal biographer Robert Lacey in his book Battle of Brothers: William and Harry – The Inside Story of a Family in Tumult, Charles would eventually identify a weekend he spent with Camilla in December 1972 as the moment he realized she was the one for him.

It was December of 1972 and Charles was set to sail for the Caribbean with the Royal Navy in the new year—a trip that was going to last into the fall of 1973. Before the deployment, Charles took Camilla to Portsmouth to see the ship he would be sailing on and then, the next weekend, the couple went to the Broadlands. As Charles wrote in a sad note to Lord Mountbatten, it was "the last time I shall see her for eight months."

It took 35 years, according to Lacey, but Charles eventually pointed to that last weekend as "the moment when he first realized for sure that he wanted to marry Camilla—that she was his life's soulmate. But he did not have the courage to tell her properly or strongly enough."

That mistake would end up having a huge impact on both Charles and Camilla's lives, and by March 1973, she was engaged to marry her first husband, Andrew Parker Bowles.

"Charles declared his love, but not his hand. He whispered sweet nothings, but said nothing of substance. He made no commitment and he asked for none," Gyles Brandreth, author of Charles and Camilla: Portrait of a Love Affair, wrote in 2005. "Sometimes, the actions we do not take are indeed more significant than those we do."

Charles and Camilla did come back to each other, infamously engaging in an affair when Charles was still married to his first wife, Princess Diana. They eventually wed in 2005.

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Weekend Editor at Cosmopolitan

Kayleigh Roberts is a freelance writer and editor with over 10 years of professional experience covering entertainment of all genres, from new movie and TV releases to nostalgia, and celebrity news. Her byline has appeared in Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, The Atlantic, Allure, Entertainment Weekly, MTV, Bustle, Refinery29, Girls’ Life Magazine, Just Jared, and Tiger Beat, among other publications. She's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.