Celebrity news, beauty, fashion advice, and fascinating features, delivered straight to your inbox!
Thank you for signing up to . You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.
One of the more dramatic plot points of season 3 of The Crown? The relationship between Prince Charles and Camilla Shand (opens in new tab) (later Camilla Parker Bowles) and the disapproval that the relationship met with from the British royal family—up to and including Queen Elizabeth. While some observers believe that the family had an active role in splitting the pair up, the reality is a bit murkier.
There have been a number of rumors that Charles was deliberately separated from Camilla via an overseas assignment—but other rumors suggest that the two separated because Camilla was still in love with her future husband, Andrew Parker Bowles. What does seem pretty clear, though, is that Charles' family never really cared for Camilla as a suitable match for the future king. Why?
The royal family saw Camilla as a "learning experience" for Charles.
Charles' uncle, Lord Mountbatten, apparently wrote (opens in new tab) in a letter to his nephew: "I think it is disturbing for women to have experiences if they have to remain on a pedestal after marriage." Camilla had dated several men by that point and was on and off with Andrew, so that diminished her suitability, as it were. (Charles, on the other hand, was encouraged to play the field, the irony of which isn't lost on anyone.)
Camilla was also seen as "earthy," which could mean "wholesome," or more likely could just be a synonym for "common," since she wasn't the daughter of a titled family (unlike Diana, the daughter of an earl). So Camilla was seen as something of an early test run relationship for Charles, but not someone he would marry. He, on the other hand, fell hard and fast for her and pined for her even after the two broke up.
The royals definitely wanted Camilla gone later on.
Long after both Charles and Camilla went on to marry other people, the two resumed an affair—which, as we all know, led to two divorces and a royal scandal. The royal family (in particular, Queen Elizabeth) allegedly wanted Camilla "gone (opens in new tab)" after the two were still seeing each other after their respective divorces.
Charles, in response, said that Camilla's presence in his life was "non-negotiable." Things escalated: The Queen apparently called Camilla "that wicked woman" (opens in new tab) and may even have said that Camilla wasn't allowed to come to Buckingham Palace (this may also had something to do with her respect for Princess Diana, as mother of William and Harry). Spoiler alert: Charles was steadfast in his feelings, and over time, Camilla's approval with the public began to rise. The two were married in 2005, with the Queen's blessing.
So, a happy ending for those two! But a very turbulent journey.
The Crown presents the couple as star-crossed lovers torn apart by the royals.
Spoilers for season three. In The Crown, the romance is dramatized and the royal family's role in the breakup vastly expanded. Charles and Camilla Shand are shown to have a deep and intense romance, and not only do the royal family not approve of Camilla, two of its members—Lord Louis Mountbatten and the Queen Mother—actively plot to separate the two. In a Machiavellian moment, the Queen Mother and Lord Mountbatten meet privately with Camilla's parents so the foursome can work together to split up Camilla and Charles. And just in case that wasn't enough, Mountbatten uses his military connections to get Charles sent all the way to the Bahamas for an extended mission with the Navy. In The Crown, it's those factors, rather than Camilla's feelings for Andrew, that lead to the couple's devastating breakup.
As far as we know, most of this is untrue. Though Mountbatten may have steered Charles away from Camilla, and although the royal family didn't think Camilla was a suitable match for the king-to-be, there was likely no secret plotting to separate the two. What's more likely is that Camilla felt that Andrew was a better fit for her at the time. The Crownplotline, however, does set up a fourth season that's more intriguing than ever. The ugly breakdown of the marriage between Charles and Princess Diana will, per this narrative, will be the fault of the royal family for separating him from the woman who was always the love of his life: Camilla Shand.
For more stories like this, including celebrity news, beauty and fashion advice, savvy political commentary, and fascinating features, sign up for the Marie Claire newsletter.
subscribe here (opens in new tab)
Katherine’s a Boston-based contributor at Marie Claire who covers fashion, culture, and lifestyle—from “Clueless” to Everlane to news about Lizzo. She’s been a freelancer for 11 years and has had roles with Cosmopolitan and Bustle, with bylines in Parents, Seventeen, and elsewhere. It’s “I go to dinner,” not “Her huge ego,” but she responds to both.
24 Hours With Courteney Cox
The Homecourt founder on fitness, her favorite music, and the fact that she’s just not into brushing her hair.
By Deena Campbell
What You Need to Know About Paid Leave Before the Midterms
Earlier this year, a rare opportunity to finally fill the holes in our care infrastructure wasn't taken. But the leader of the new Paid Leave PAC is here to tell you it’s not over.
By Tanya Benedicto Klich
Easy Halloween Eye Makeup Ideas That Don’t Require a Costume
From spooky vampire tutorials to the classic cat whiskers.
By Samantha Holender
'Manifest' Season 4: Everything We Know
The once-canceled NBC show is returning for a final chapter (or two) on Netflix.
By Jenny Hollander
The 13 Best Lesbian Movies on Netflix Right Now
Until recently, a good lesbian movie was hard to find.
By Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner
The 85 Best Movies of All Time
These must-watch films are essentials.
By Brooke Knappenberger
'Squid Game' Season 2: Everything We Know
Round 2 is coming!
By Quinci LeGardye
The 81 Best Rom-Coms of All Time
The ultimate guide to the romantic comedy genre.
By Quinci LeGardye
The 45 Best Murder Mystery Movies of All Time
Murder, mystery, and more than a few twist endings.
By Katherine J. Igoe
The 69 Hottest, Sexiest TV Show Sex Scenes
Let's do it like they do on the Discovery Channel.
By Kayleigh Roberts
The 54 Best K-Dramas You'll Be Completely Hooked On
Wait, how is it already 2 a.m.?
By Quinci LeGardye