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For years, then-Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles carried on an affair while married to other people and it’s been well-documented how much of a strain their scandalous relationship put on Charles’ marriage to Princess Diana. Most people know the story about how Diana found out about the whole thing and what happened when she confronted her husband’s mistress, but a lot of people have never heard Camilla open up about the affair.

Given that many blame the now-queen for breaking up Charles and Diana’s marriage, she won’t gain much sympathy discussing how she felt when their affair became public knowledge. However, Camilla has admitted that the media storm really affected her.

Camilla Parker Bowles
Camilla Parker Bowles | Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Here’s more on how she and Charles started their affair and why she said she felt like a prisoner in her own home after the public found out about it.

When they began their affair

Charles and then-Camilla Shand met one another in the early ’70s, years before he knew Diana.

They were introduced by a woman named Lucia Santa Cruz. who Charles was once romantically involved with. He and Camilla hit it off right away and began dating but split when Charles went to the Royal Navy. Camilla then connected with her former flame, Andrew Parker Bowles, and they got hitched in 1973.

Charles was said to be devastated upon hearing the news. However, he always kept in contact with Camilla. In 1986, five years after he married Diana, the pair rekindled their on-again-off-again romance even though they were both still married at the time.

How Camilla felt after their affair was revealed

Camilla Parker Bowles, The Duchess Of Cornwall
Camilla Parker Bowles, The Duchess Of Cornwall | Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images

In 1989, a raunchy conversation between Camilla and Charles was recorded but didn’t make headlines until 1993 when the tape was leaked to the press. In what became known as Camillagate or Tampongate, there was no denying their affair as Charles talked about living inside his mistress’s underwear.

Camilla has said that the public scrutiny she endured after the affair was revealed made her feel like a prisoner in her home.

“I couldn’t really go anywhere,” she told The Mail on Sunday‘s You magazine. “It was horrid. It was a deeply unpleasant time and I wouldn’t want to put my worst enemy through it.”

Camilla added, “I couldn’t have survived it without my family.” And when asked if she has moved on from that time in her life she replied, “Most definitely, yes.” 

Why Charles married Princess Diana instead of Camilla first

Camilla Parker Bowles and Prince Charles arrive at Lacock Cyraiax Church
Camilla Parker Bowles and Prince Charles | Carl de Souza/AFP/Getty Images

It’s believed that Charles always wanted to marry Camilla but he knew that wasn’t possible.

For one, she didn’t come from a sufficient aristocratic background which did not make her a proper suitor for the man who would be king. Also, back then, the royals wanted the future monarch to marry a virgin which Camilla was not. Therefore, Charles was pushed to marry his first wife.

Queen Elizabeth II did eventually grant her son permission to marry Camilla and they tied the knot in 2005.

Read more: Why Prince Charles Blames Prince Philip For His Unhappy Marriage to Princess Diana