Did Prince Philip Encourage Prince Charles to Have An Affair With Camilla Parker Bowles?

The royal family has had no shortage of dramas and speculations over the years, but the one that still looms large in many adoring fans’ minds is the affair between Prince Charles and his then-mistress, now-wife Camilla Parker Bowles. Of course, the affair garnered headlines and dominated news cycles when it was first suspected and later revealed back in the mid-1990s, but nearly 30 years later, people are still captivated by it and wondering about the details. 

One of the questions that remain about the affair is just how it all began in the first place. Some have speculated that Prince Philip, Prince Charles’ father and husband to the Queen, encouraged his son to start a relationship with Bowles while he was still married to Princess Diana. What evidence is there to suggest such a scandal? Read on to find out. 

Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles met many years before their affair

Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles
Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles | Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Prince Charles and Bowles married in 2005. The pair met long before Prince Charles married Princess Diana. They first bumped into one another at a party in 1970. While sparks flew even then, Prince Charles would soon join the Royal Navy. While he was away, Bowles reconnected with a former boyfriend, Andrew Parker Bowles. That pair would eventually be wed, have two children, and later divorced. 

Prince Charles’ absence may not have been the only thing keeping the relationship with Bowles from budding early on. Bowles’ status in the royal family lineage was not considered high enough. Charles’ position as the son of the Queen is a crucial one, and his marriage choice was an incredibly important one in terms of influence and prestige. 

His marriage to Princess Diana may have been considered more appropriate since she was a member of the Spencer family, which had been in close alliance with the British royal family for multiple generations. In fact, Prince Charles was already dating Princess Diana’s older sister, Sarah, when Princess Diana and Prince Charles first met. 

Prince Philip knew about Prince Charles’ feelings for Camilla Parker Bowles

Prince Charles and Princess Diana were married in 1981, but Prince Philip knew about Prince Charles’ feelings for Bowles even then. It’s even reported that he consoled Charles about his impending marriage to Diana by saying: “If your marriage doesn’t work out you can always go back to her after five years.”

While Prince Philip may not have directly said that he endorsed an affair, he certainly implied support for one. He seemed to understand that Prince Charles was not really in love with Princess Diana and that he would be maintaining his connection with Bowles even as he went forward with the marriage. 

Prince Charles also got some questionable relationship advice from his mentor and great-uncle, Lord Mountbatten, who wrote to him to say: “I believe in a case like yours, the man should sow his wild oats and have as many affairs as he can before settling down, but for a wife he should choose a suitable, attractive and sweet-charactered girl before she has met anyone else she might fall for.”

Keeping his relationship with Bowles a secret while publicly pairing with Princess Diana seemed to be right in line with his family’s wishes, and the secrecy certainly helped promote the affair. 

The affair left Camilla Parker Bowles a hated public figure

The queen famously did not attend the eventual marriage between Prince Charles and Bowles. Even though years had passed since Prince Charles’ divorce and Princess Diana’s untimely death, the public was still not impressed with Bowles. Many people blamed her for the divorce, which was covered obsessively by tabloids. Bowles’ popularity dipped even lower following Princess Diana’s tragic death. Without the beloved Princess Diana to focus on, the media needed a villain, and Bowles fit the bill. 

Even today, Bowles remains largely unpopular among the British people. Only 14 percent would approve of her taking on the title of queen, while a whopping 30 percent would like to see her get no title at all. The pair may have taken careful steps to slowly introduce the public to their relationship, but many still associate their marriage with the affair that started it all.