As The Crown marches on toward the present, more and more familiar stories and names are becoming material for the series. One major storyline that’s a part of The Crown season 3 is the relationship between Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla, who, at the time, went by her birth name Camilla Shand. Charles and Camilla’s relationship has spanned decades and resulted in them getting married 35 years after first meeting and both wedding other people. The third season of The Crown shows how the two first got to know each other, and if you’re wondering about accuracy, here’s the true story of how it all went down.
Charles and Camilla met at a polo match in 1970 when they were both 23 years old, as reported by People. (Sometimes the year is reported as 1971.) They are said to have been introduced by a mutual friend named Lucia Santa Cruz. According to Town & Country, because of Camilla’s upper class upbringing, socializing with royals wasn’t uncommon. The Duchess: The Untold Story, a biography of Camilla by Penny Junor, claims (via People):
“[Charles] loved the fact that she smiled with her eyes as well as her mouth, and laughed at the same silly things as he did. He also liked that she was so natural and easy and friendly, not in any way overawed by him, not fawning or sycophantic. In short, he was very taken with her, and after that first meeting he began ringing her up.”
But, their romantic relationship ended shortly after — at least for the time being — when Charles left to serve in the Royal Navy. Then, in 1973, Camilla married Andrew Parker Bowles, who had previously dated Charles’ sister, Princess Anne. In 1981, Charles married Diana Spencer, who became Diana, Princess of Wales. Throughout this entire time, Charles and Camilla remained friends, which was known. But, they also rekindled things romantically, which lead to a huge scandal, including various secret tape recordings. Charles and Diana divorced officially in 1996; Camilla and Parker Bowles divorced in 1995.
On April 9, 2005, 35 years after they first met, Camilla and Charles got married, and since then, the public perception of the Duchess of Cornwall has changed drastically with her becoming an accepted working member of the British royal family.
We’re getting ahead of ourselves, though. For now, The Crown will feature the early days of Camilla and Charles’ relationship. Camilla will be played by Call the Midwife actor and Killing Eve writer Emerald Fennell and Charles by The Durrells in Corfu actor Josh O’Connor.
In a statement when she was cast, Fennel said, “I absolutely love Camilla. And am very grateful that my teenage years have well prepared me for playing a chain-smoking serial snogger with a pudding bowl haircut.”
Meanwhile, O’Connor, told ES Magazine of Charles, “ I think the first thing I learned is that it’s totally impossible to replicate the real man. I don’t know who he is, none of us do.” O’Connor said, though, that his ears helped him channel the prince. “I did think immediately, who’s gonna play Charles? I don’t know anyone my age who’s got these. They’re not huge, but they stick out.”
As for Camilla, a source told Vanity Fair in November 2018 that she likes The Crown, but “wasn’t looking forward to the bits to come.” Can’t say I blame her.