Here’s Why Camilla Parker Bowles Was at Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s Wedding

Out of the 2,500 guests who attended Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s wedding, the last person we’d expect to be in attendance would be Camilla Parker Bowles. After all, Charles was in love with Parker Bowles before he ever even met Diana — and he’d infamously go on to have an affair with her during their marriage.

However, on July 29, 1981, none other than Parker Bowles was seated amongst the guests at St. Paul’s Cathedral. Here’s the real reason why she made the guest list, and how Diana felt about it.

Prince Charles and Princess Diana

Prince Charles and Princess Diana | Getty Images

Diana was suspicious of Parker Bowles’ presence

Even though Diana certainly wasn’t happy about Parker Bowles attending her wedding, she wasn’t caught off guard by her presence. She revealed during her infamous tell-all interview with Andrew Morton in 1991, “I knew she was in there, of course. I looked for her.”

Diana continued, “So walking down the aisle, I spotted Camilla, pale gray, veiled pillbox hat, saw it all, her son Tom standing on a chair. To this day you know — vivid memory.”

We aren’t surprised by Diana’s suspicions, considering Charles reportedly wept the night before their wedding over the fact that he still wasn’t over Parker Bowles. According to royal biographer Penny Juror, “She became jealous — obsessing about Camilla Parker Bowles — suspicious, turning against people she appeared to like, convinced they were out to get her.”

Parker Bowles’ husband was involved in the wedding procession

Of course, there was a logical reason for Charles’ ex to have attended their wedding. Parker Bowles’ husband, Andrew Parker Bowles, was the Commanding Officer of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment. Therefore, he oversaw the ceremonial escort that accompanied Charles and Diana’s carriage through the wedding procession.

Princess Diana and Camilla Parker Bowles

Princess Diana and Camilla Parker Bowles | Express Newspapers/Getty Images

Charles was still friends with Parker Bowles

Whether or not Parker Bowles’ husband was involved in the wedding, Charles probably would have invited her. They stayed close friends after their relationship had ended, but at the time, Diana didn’t know that their romance was far from over.

“Instead of explaining to Diana at the outset that Camilla was an old girlfriend, he had presented her as nothing more than a friend,” Juror wrote in The Duchess: Camilla Parker Bowles and the Love Affair That Rocked the Crown. “It didn’t occur to him that she needed to know before someone else told her … He came clean after the engagement, admitting that Camilla had been one of his most intimate friends, but reassured Diana that from now on there would be no other women.”

Diana limited Parker Bowles’ involvement in the wedding

Given Diana’s suspicions of Parker Bowles, she didn’t let her or the rest of her family get any more involved. Charles reportedly suggested Parker Bowles son (and his own godchild), Tom, be in the wedding party.

According to Juror, “When it came to choosing her attendants for the wedding, she vetoed Charles’ suggestion that Camilla’s son, Tom, his godchild, be in the wedding party. She agreed to several of his other godchildren, but there was a big scene about Tom Parker Bowles and Charles backed down.”

The Parker Bowles family wasn’t invited to attend the post-wedding breakfast at Buckingham Palace, either.

Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles

Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles | Abdelhak Senna /AFP/Getty Images

Diana’s suspicions were right

As we all now know, Diana was right on the money with her suspicions about Parker Bowles. Charles even admitted to his affair after his marriage with Diana went downhill in 1986. He was pretty much forced to own up to it, however, considering “Camillagate” went public in 1993.

It included an intimate phone conversation between Charles and Parker Bowles that was recorded in 1989. Even though it wasn’t shared with the world until four years later, Diana knew about the affair the whole time. She famously claimed, “There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.” 

Eventually, nearly 10 years after his divorce from Diana and her untimely death, Charles wed Parker Bowles in 2005.