CHARLES and Camilla have been in love for most of 37 years. Their love transcended marriages to and divorces from other people, barriers by relatives, public resentment, social, religious and family obligations as well as press reports.
Many believe it is the greatest royal love story, beating that of Charlesâ€™s great uncle, King Edward VIII, who famously gave up the throne so that he could marry the woman he loved.
On 10 February 2005, four days before St. Valentineâ€™s Day, it was announced that Camilla Parker Bowles and the Prince of Wales were going to marry.
Camilla, 60, who divorced her husband Andrew in 1995, had been the significant love of Charlesâ€™ life but always in the background facing an uphill struggle to rival Diana for the publicâ€™s affection. After several years of carefully choreographed appearances together, she slowly gained wide acceptance as Charlesâ€™ long-term partner.
Charlesâ€™ biographer, Penny Junor, told Reuters: â€œHeâ€™s very much in love with her and she with him. Thatâ€™s just the way it is.â€
The wedding took place at the Guildhall in Windsor on 9 April 2005. It was attended by all the senior royals apart from the Queen and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
Invitations to 800 guests asked them not to use cell phones or cameras, nor to bring gifts. Charles gave Camilla his grandmotherâ€™s ring for engagement. The marriage made the Prince the first member of the royal family to marry in a civil ceremony in England.
How They Met
Camilla Rosemary Shad, then 23, was introduced to Charles by an old girlfriend, Lucia Santa Cruz in 1970 at a polo match near Windsor.
Camilla looked up the Prince of Wales and cheekily asked: â€œMy great-grandmother was your great-great-grandfatherâ€™s mistress, so how about it?â€ (Indeed, her great-grandmother, Alice Keppel, was a mistress of Edward VII).
Prince Charles was immediately captivated by the â€˜breath of fresh airâ€™, as he later described her. She spoke her mind, which must have been refreshing to a man used to servants and people who measured everything they said to him.
They started a relationship which lasted until the following year, 1971, when Charles joined the Royal Navy. But Camilla did not wait and married a cavalry officer, Andrew Parker Bowles in 1973.
Charles was said to be devastated. But he remained so close to the Camillaâ€™s family that he was chosen to be the godfather of their first son Thomas, in 1975.
Even when he married Diana, his heart remained with Camilla.
When Charles said in an interview that he had cheated on Diana, Andrew linked it to his wife and the two divorced â€˜amicablyâ€™.
In Mortonâ€™s book, Diana: Her True Story, published in June 1992, Diana said Charles wore a pair of gold cufflinks Camilla gave him throughout their honeymoon and carried Camillaâ€™s pictures throughout.
Diana became curious that Camilla was present at most of their courtship venues and kept advising her on what Charles liked, hated, planned. In her famous television interview on BBCâ€™s Panorama in 1995, she said she confronted Camilla at a party, demanding an end to the affair.
Charles and Dianaâ€™s separation was announced by Parliament in 1992, but they didnâ€™t divorce until 1996. A year later, Diana died in a car crash in Paris.
It was years before Charles and Camilla stepped out in public together, on the occasion of her sister, Annabelâ€™s 50th birthday party, in January, 1999. After that there was the first public kiss; and, then, later, general acceptance.
Henry VIII was the first divorced man to be king. Charles will most likely be the first king married to a divorcee. King Edward VIII had to abdicate the throne to marry Mrs. Wallis Simpson.
Source: Guardian, BBC, CNN, Royal Encyclopaedia, New York Times, Reuters
They waited 35 years