Diana statue: Expert on why Charles didn't attend unveiling
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Charles’ absence from the unveiling of the Princess Diana statue in Kensington Palace last week raised eyebrows, especially as it was commissioned by his two sons Prince Harry and Prince William. The Prince of Wales is believed to have stayed in Scotland for the duration of Harry’s UK visit, too — even though the occasion was pipped to be a reunion for the estranged family. However, a glance back at Charles’ chaotic marriage to Diana suggests that the Prince of Wales may have just wanted to avoid overshadowing the emotional occasion, by reminding the public of his tumultuous relationship with the late Princess of Wales.
As Charles is said to have gained more authority behind Palace walls after Prince Philip’s death, and as he continues preparing to take the throne himself, it’s also unlikely he would have wanted to return to the scandals which were scattered throughout his first marriage.
One of the most memorable bombshells which hit the headlines as his relationship with Diana was falling apart was dubbed ‘Camillagate’.
This was a transcript of a bedtime conversation between Charles and his then-mistress Camilla, recorded in 1989, although it was not released until a month after the heir and Diana split in 1992.
It exposed the intimate relationship between the two and was published in January 1993.
During their affectionate exchange over the phone, Camilla said: “I can’t start the week without you.”
Charles replied: “I fill up your tank.”
They both joked about “desperately” wanting to be together “all the time” amid some crude jokes, while arranging where and when they can next see each other.
They signed off the phone call by confirming how they love one another, and Charles even told Camilla: “Your great achievement is to love me.”
She replied: “I’d suffer anything for you. That’s love. It’s the strength of love.”
When published, the tape sent shockwaves through royal spheres — especially as both were married at the time of the conversation.
It also triggered Camilla’s divorce from Andrew Parker Bowles because it made his position as the Duchess of Cornwall’s husband untenable although all three remained friends.
Royal biographer, and an acquaintance of Charles, Howard Hodgson explained in his biography of the Prince of Wales that “even today the episode troubles the Prince”.
Mr Hodgson claimed: “He knows that people not sympathetic to him or the monarchy will recall it at the time of his coronation and at all other meaningful moments in his life.
“He remains deeply ashamed of the embarrassment that he caused his mother, deeply sorry for the pain it caused both his and Camilla’s children.”
Diana is said to have called the recording “sick”, despite being caught out in a similarly sticky situation with her own alleged phone call to James Gilbey, a childhood friend.
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Published the year before ‘Camillagate’, a tape of a woman — thought to be Diana — exchanging affectionate terms with Mr Gilbey stunned royal watchers.
He repeatedly called the Princess of Wales ‘Squidgy’ and ‘Squidge’ during the phone call, meaning the phone call was soon dubbed ‘Squidgygate’.
The conversation was recorded on New Year’s Eve in 1989, and the pair can be heard planning to meet.
The Princess of Wales said her husband “makes my life real, real torture”, and explained how she felt “really sad and empty” at times.
Although such events took place three decades ago, the public still feel strongly about the breakdown of the Wales’ marriage, as seen in the response to Netflix’s latest series of ‘The Crown’, which retold the story of their relationship.
Diana and Charles finalised their divorce in 1996, and are thought to have become more amicable towards one another in the final year of the Princess of Wales’ life.
The Prince of Wales maintained his relationship with Camilla and gradually integrated her into his public life.
They married in 2005, and she is currently known as the Duchess of Cornwall, having taken her husband’s secondary title out of respect for Diana.
The Palace has since claimed Camilla will only be known as Charles’ Princess Consort, rather than Queen Consort, when he takes to the throne as she is his second wife.
However, this is a hotly contested claim and many speculate the Prince of Wales will attempt to grant Camilla the more senior title of Queen Consort.
‘Charles: The Man Who Will Be King’ by Howard Hodgson was published in 2007 by John Blake Publishing and is available here.
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