Strange Things About Prince Charles And Camilla's Marriage

Once considered the most controversial couple in Britain, Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles have come a long way. When they first met in the 1970s, it was love at first sight, though fate (and royal family masterminds) had other plans for the couple. Their reunion ignited an adulterous, controversial affair that ended with two divorces and such dreadful disapproval from the public that it seemed as if they would never find their happy ending. But, in 2005, the two finally married, finding their happily ever after 35 years and a lot of drama. Today, they are next in line for the throne.

Despite their unconventional journey, the golden-years partnership they've formed seems to be one that is full of mutual support and happiness. In an interview with CNN, Charles opened up about his relationship with Camilla, saying, "It's always marvelous to have somebody who, you know, you feel understands and wants to encourage. Although she certainly pokes fun if I get too serious about things."

In many ways, they seem like an average couple hanging out at their country home with their dogs, but their background and their marriage have always been far from normal. Judged and scrutinized for decades, it's no surprise that details about the couple's personal lives have leaked into the world and been put on public display. From their ancestral connection to traveling with their own toilet seat, here are some of the stranger things about Prince Charles and Camilla's marriage.

Their ancestors had an affair of their own

King Edward VII, affectionately referred to as "Bertie," is Prince Charles' great-great-grandfather. Bertie had an array of mistresses throughout his life, including famous theater beauties Lillie Langtry and Sarah Bernhardt, American heiress-turned-British socialite (and Winston Churchill's mom) Jennie Churchill, and woman-about-town Alice Keppel. The latter happens to be Camilla Parker Bowles' great-grandmother.

Camilla allegedly admired her great-grandmother, who famously said "a royal mistress should curtsy first, and then jump into bed." Even as a child, she was enthralled by tales of her ancestor. According to "Camilla: The King's Mistress," by Caroline Graham, a friend of Camilla's claimed she "would often go on endlessly about Alice. She would sit on her mother's knee and beg Rosalind to tell her all about her famous ancestor." A former classmate added, "From the moment Camilla arrived at school, she would regale us with stories about Alice. ... Camilla was always saying: 'My great-grandmother was practically royal, you know. She may not have been Queen, but she had the ear of the King. That made her jolly powerful.'"

Considering her fascination with her great-grandmother, one can't help but wonder if she always had her sights set on becoming a royal mistress. When Camilla and Charles first met, she reportedly said to her future husband, "My great-grandmother was the mistress of your great-great-grandfather. I feel we have something in common," according to People. The historical link and a bit of chemistry was clearly enough for them to proceed.

They are family in more ways than one

It's no secret that sometimes royalty marry their own relatives. It's happened throughout history, and surprisingly even within the past century. For example, Queen Elizabeth II's husband, Prince Philip, was her third cousin and, as it turns out, Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles are also related to one another.

The prince and his wife are 9th cousins, which perhaps sounds distant enough to not make a fuss about. However, it's possible they are even more closely related, if a certain rumor is true, which is where it gets a little weird. As previously mentioned, Camilla's great-grandmother, Alice Keppel, was a mistress of King Edward VII, otherwise known as "Bertie." According to Catharine Arnold's book, "Edward VII: The Prince of Wales and the Women He Loved," it's "possible" that Sonia Keppel, Alice Keppel's daughter and Camilla's grandmother, was Bertie's lovechild. The book states, "Born in 1900, Sonia did have a likeness to Bertie, and later wrote 'Edwardian Daughter,' in which she did nothing to dispel this rumor." 

If this is true, then Prince Charles and Camilla would share Edward VII as a great-great-grandfather and great-grandfather respectively, which means they would be way more closely related than initially thought and Camilla would be royal by blood.

PDA is rare for the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall

Part of British royal duty is appearing prim and proper at all times. Accordingly, royals tend to shy away from public displays of affection, especially when on official outings. Though there are no formal rules against it, it seems to be an unspoken guideline. Queen Elizabeth and her husband, Prince Philip, were married for 73 years and rarely held hands in public.

As a former adulterous and controversial couple, it makes sense that Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles would take note and present themselves in a more formal manner to gain respect as serious royal officials. On occasion, however, they are permitted let their guard down a bit. "More intimate signals tend to be reserved for the kind of official photos they have taken for birthdays and anniversaries and in these we do get a glimpse of a much more openly fond relationship as Camilla relaxes and switches out of her more formal royal role," Judi James, a body language expert, explained to Express.

While Camilla and Charles are willing to show slight signs of affection, full on PDA is still rare, especially kissing. According to E! News, the couple has only been photographed kissing a total of three times.

They've traveled with some outrageous items

To be royal is to be a little extra. Okay, maybe a lot extra. When you have a huge palace, wealth, and power, who's to stop you from doing things like hiring a professional chef to make your corgis' gourmet meals, like Queen Elizabeth? Or taking your whole bedroom set with you when traveling, like Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles did?

Charles is not only a notoriously picky eater, often bringing his own food with him when he travels, but he is also apparently a picky sleeper. Once, when Charles and Camilla were visiting a friend in Northern England, they allegedly brought a truck that "contained nothing less than Charles and Camilla's complete bedrooms, including the Prince's orthopedic bed, along with his own linen," according to Tom Bower's book, "Rebel Prince: The Power, Passion and Defiance of Prince Charles," via the Daily Mail.

If that's not weird enough, the long list of items the couple brought with them also included their own toilet seat, toilet paper, and two landscape paintings. Who can blame them for wanting the comforts of home when they travel, but even when you have the staff and the means to justify such extravagance, one can't help but wonder: Wouldn't it just be easier to have people visit them at Clarence House?

Camilla Parker Bowles had to devise a plan for public approval before marriage was possible

Camilla Parker Bowles was considered to be the most hated person in Britain after Princess Diana and Prince Charles separated. Diana, after all, was "the people's princess," and to many, Camilla was seen as the "other woman" who destroyed their princess's happiness. Despite the public's perception, however,  Charles and Camilla had their sights set on marriage. "[Camilla] thought the most she could hope for was to someday be the King's mistress, but now Diana was out of the way and Camilla wanted more," Lady Elsa Bowker said, according to Christopher Anderson's book, "Game of Crowns: Elizabeth, Camilla, Kate, and the Throne."

The prince's publicity staff worked quickly to devise a plan "to show [Camilla] was a real person with real feelings and interests," Colleen Harris, Charles' press secretary, said, according to an adaptation of Penny Junor's book "The Duchess," for Vanity Fair. That plan was reportedly called "Operation Mrs. PB," and its goal was to change the British public's perception of Camilla, gain the queen's approval, and pave the way for an official marriage and title.

However, that plan was paused after Diana tragically died. "Camilla's poll numbers hit all-time lows," Anderson wrote. 2 years later, the couple finally appeared publicly and resumed the effort to integrate Camilla into the royal family. The hopes of "Operation Mrs. PB" came to fruition in 2005, when the couple finally married and Camilla became the Duchess of Cornwall.

Strange details about their wedding

With a history as complicated as theirs, Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles' wedding was bound to have some unusual wrinkles. Seeking parental approval of a relationship is never easy for anyone, but the weight is a little heavier when your mom's the queen and she tells you your matrimony is too improper for her (or your father) to attend your wedding.

At the time, an insider told The Telegraph that the reason Queen Elizabeth did not attend her son's wedding was because "she has to put her role with the Church before her role as a mother." She reportedly said, "I do not feel that my position [as Supreme Governor of the Church] permits it." The Church of England is apparently not too keen on adulterous affairs that lead to two divorced individuals marrying each other in a civil ceremony. That being said, the queen did attend the reception and has seemed to grow fond of Camilla over the years.

There was also something a little strange peppered into their vows. Even though they opted for a civil ceremony, their union was "blessed" by the Archbishop of Canterbury, per CNN. Accordingly, they read a penitence prayer from "The Book of Common Prayer" that required them to "acknowledge and bewail" their "manifold sins and wickedness" before the union could be sanctified.

Prince Charles is the godfather of Camilla Parker Bowles' son

The story of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles' love affair is something out of a storybook, rife with meet-cutes and misunderstandings, and eventual happy endings. 

Charles met Camilla in 1970, and the two fell in love. However, due to any number of reasons unable to be agreed upon by royal biographers, Charles ended up joining the Royal Navy and leaving Camilla behind. Potentially understanding that she'd never land her prince, Camilla accepted the proposal of her on-again-off-again boyfriend throughout the '60s, Andrew Parker Bowles, who was a friend of Charles and who had attempted to date Charles' sister, Princess Anne. Camilla and Andrew maintained a close relationship with the prince, though, and even named Charles the godfather of their son, Thomas Parker Bowles. 

Some authors have argued that naming Charles as Tom's godfather was a way for the prince and Camilla to always be tied together. In the book "Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life," historian Sally Bedell Smith wrote, "As a conscientious godfather, Charles also followed the progress of Tom Parker Bowles, sufficient grounds for calling Camilla from time to time." While it's probable Charles and Camilla saw very little of each other from 1981 to 1986, according to Bedell, the pair still "stayed in touch" and as godfather, Charles cleverly had a legitimate excuse to visit Camilla's home without subjecting himself to scandalous suspicions.

They have some bizarre forms of dirty talk

In 1993, a transcript of a 1989 tapped phone call between Camilla Parker Bowles and Prince Charles was publicly released, an incident remembered as "Camillagate" or "Tampongate," depending on how crude people wanted to be about it. The transcript of the call revealed an exchange of some odd words of affection that most likely will follow them throughout their lives.

The odd words are, of course, referring to the tampon part of "Tampongate." In the phone call, via The Mirror, Charles and Camilla are talking about how much they "need" each other, "several times a week" in fact. At one point, Charles said, "I'll just live inside your trousers or something. It would be much easier!" to which Camilla replied, "What are you going to turn into, a pair of knickers?" "Or, God forbid, a Tampax," Charles added. Camilla then suggested he should actually hope to be reincarnated as her box of tampons so he "could just keep going."

What seemed to be nothing more than really strange dirty-talk joking became a complete nightmare for the royal family, as it quickly turned into a tabloid scandal. Princess Diana, who was still married to Charles at the time but was aware of Camilla's place in her husband's life, reportedly called the conversation "sick." However, she was also allegedly "amused" by the jokes that followed at his expense, according to the book "Guarding Diana: Protecting The Princess Around The World," via The Independent.

There is a tense family dynamic built from odd circumstances

Becoming stepmother to the children of your husband's universally adored late ex-wife to whom he was married when you had an affair with him would create a complicated family dynamic, to say the least. Strange circumstances put people in strange positions all the time, however, and Camilla Parker Bowles' place in the Windsor family has certainly been complex. 

The evil stepmother trope was a trap Camilla could have easily fallen into, and Prince Harry and Prince William's disapproval of her would certainly have been warranted. Nevertheless, the brothers have often outwardly expressed support for their father's new relationship. According to The U.S. Sun, Harry expressed sympathy for her in a 2005 interview, saying, "Look at the position she's come into. Don't always feel sorry for me and William, feel sorry for her." Media outlets, however, have long made note of their apparent aloofness around their stepmom. According to the Daily Mail, "As boys, Camilla had made them laugh, but as adults their attitudes had changed to one of almost icy indifference, where they saw her only as the woman who had married their papa."

While the royal family don't exactly advertise their emotions to the world, it seems more information might be revealed soon concerning what family life was really like for William and Harry. According to The Mirror, Harry's upcoming book will "shake the monarchy to the core" and allegedly much of the criticism will be directed toward Camilla.

The announcement of the duchess's future title was a surprise to many

If you time-traveled back to the late '90s and told people that Camilla Parker Bowles would be queen someday, no one would believe you. Camilla has transformed from the most hated person in Britain to the future queen consort, as Queen Elizabeth II announced was her wish in a statement posted to Twitter on February 5, to mark the queen's Platinum Jubilee. 

Once upon a time, the queen allegedly called Camilla "that wicked woman." Nowadays, she intends to bestow upon the duchess the highest title she can. The decision seemed like a strange one to many, since it goes against the traditional values of the monarchy, which once had much stricter rules concerning divorces and adultery. Us Weekly reported that Prince Harry and Prince William were "blindsided" by the queen's wishes, and the public was divided on whether or not it was the right move — though most were supportive.

"It could be an opportunity to showcase a more forgiving, more flexible, more modern idea of what the monarchy represents," a history professor at Boston University, Arianne Chernock, told The New York Times. Perhaps the monarchy is slowly creeping into the modern world after all. What once seemed impossible for Camilla when she was a mistress is now inevitable: She will be crowned beside Prince Charles when the time comes. Her great-grandmother would certainly be proud.