The Crazy Way Camilla Parker Bowles Got Engaged to Her First Husband

Back when Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, wasn’t a duchess and went by her maiden name of Camilla Shand, she met Andrew Parker Bowles. Years later, the two would get married. Keep reading to learn the crazy way they got engaged, which sounds almost too outlandish to be true.

How Camilla met Andrew Parker Bowles

Camilla and Andrew met in 1965 at her debutante party. Author Penny Junor wrote about the couple’s first meeting in her book, The Duchess: Camilla Parker Bowles and the Love Affair That Rocked the Crown.

“He was 25 and a rather beautiful officer in the Household Cavalry; she was 17 but remarkably self-assured,” Junor wrote. “Andrew went over to her and simply said, ‘Let’s dance.’ They danced and she fell in love.”

Camilla and Andrew dated, then she met Prince Charles

Camilla and Andrew began dating but broke up and that’s when she met Prince Charles in 1970 at a polo match where they were introduced by a mutual friend, Lucia Santa Cruz.

“He [Prince 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,” Junor wrote in her book, according to People. “In short, he was very taken with her, and after that first meeting he began ringing her up.”

Prince Charles and Camilla
Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles are seen together in late 1979 | Tim Graham/Getty Images

She and Prince Charles started dating but split up when he left on the HMS Frigate with the Royal Navy at the beginning of 1973. Although they both liked each other, the couple didn’t have a conversation about remaining together while Prince Charles was with the Royal Navy.

When Prince Charles went away, Camilla and Andrew reconnected and rekindled their romance from years earlier.

How Camilla and Andrew got engaged

Camilla’s father and Andrew’s brother conspired together to get the couple to the altar. They published an engagement announcement in a local newspaper for Camilla and Andrew even though they weren’t engaged, according to Good Housekeeping.

Andrew Parker Bowles and Camilla
Camilla Shand marries Major Andrew Parker-Bowles at the Guards Chapel, Wellington Barracks, 4th July 1973. | Wood/Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Andrew, a known bachelor, proposed to Camilla after the two men forced his hand. Camilla and Andrew were married on July 4, 1973.

Marriage devastated Prince Charles

Camilla’s marriage to Andrew reportedly devastated Prince Charles. “It seemed to him particularly cruel, he wrote in one letter, that after ‘such a blissful, peaceful and mutually happy relationship’, fate had decreed that it should last a mere six months,” Junor said.

Camilla and Andrew’s children

Camilla had two children with her first spouse just like Prince Charles did during his first marriage.

Camilla and Andrew welcomed their son, Tom, on Dec. 18, 1974. Today, Tom is a food critic and has two kids. He’s also written cookbooks.

Camilla Parker Bowles with daughter, Laura, and son, Tom.
Camilla Parker Bowles with son, Tom, and daughter, Laura, at an unspecified event | Tim Graham/Getty Images

“I loved eating and could just about string a sentence together, so I thought I could write about food,” Tom said about becoming a food critic.

Four years after Camilla and Andrew welcomed Tom, they had their second child, a daughter named Laura, on Jan. 1, 1978. Laura grew up to co-found an art gallery in Belgravia. In 2006 she married Harry Lopes, a former Calvin Klein model.

Divorce

Andrew and Camilla got divorced in 1995 after more than 20 years of marriage. During their marriage, Andrew reportedly knew of Camilla’s affair with Prince Charles.

“Andrew was in no position to complain; and when he discovered what was going on, he wisely didn’t make a fuss,” Junor wrote in her book.

“Some would say that a part of him actually quite enjoyed the fact that his wife was sleeping with the future King; he might have felt differently had Charles been a traveling salesman.”