This Saturday marks the 22nd anniversary of the death of the Princess of Wales in Paris in 1997. Approximately a year before that fateful car crash, Charles and Diana had finalised their divorce, and Camilla had also recently divorced Andrew Parker Bowles. Both Charles and Camilla were single again and free to pursue their romance, albeit discreetly.
Charles hoped that with time he could gradually introduce Camilla to his family and the public, and that they could make their relationship official.
However, after Diana died, the animosity towards the pair of them heightened and he knew it was not possible.
Royal biographer Penny Junor wrote in the Daily Mail in 2017: “Both divorced, before Diana’s death they had been seeing each other again discreetly.
“But now they were back to the cloak-and-dagger antics – and long telephone conversations.
Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall (Image: GETTY)
Princess Diana died in 1997 (Image: GETTY)
“It was a few weeks before Charles summoned the courage to face the public, and he knew it would be a long time before his name could be linked to Camilla’s again – the longer still before they could be seen together.
“They had been so close but were now so far apart.”
Two months before the fatal car crash, he had sat them down and tried to explain the situation.
Camilla and Charles had to return to “cloak-and-dagger antic” (Image: GETTY)
Ms Junor said: “Both of them went very quiet. He sensed William, in particular, didn’t want to know, so Charles didn’t bring the subject up again.”
However, Charles still insisted to the Queen that Camilla was a “non-negotiable” part of his life.
Despite his insistence that Camilla was there to stay, their relationship had to be put on ice while the country mourned Diana’s death.
In the days after her death, the Royal Family came under intense scrutiny.
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Princess Diana’s funeral was watched by millions (Image: GETTY)
Camilla was “shocked” at the news Diana had died (Image: GETTY)
They had shut themselves inside Balmoral instead of coming out to see the public and many people blamed Charles for Diana’s passing.
While the accident was not his fault, grief-stricken Diana-lovers insisted that she would not have been in Paris with Dodi Fayed if Charles had treated her better.
Charles was also worried about Camilla, who had been on the receiving end of a lot of negative attention following the news.
The press “besieged” her home within hours, trying to talk to the woman who had caused the break-up of Diana’s marriage.
Charles and Camilla timeline (Image: EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS)
Julia Cleverdon, who worked for Charles for more than 30 years, said: “That must have been an appalling period for her, and I thought she was courageous and humble and decent.
“He was in agony about it – he really, really was.
“And the fact that she was prepared to go through all this for him, I think, illustrates what an incredibly strong relationship and partnership they’ve had.”
In the years after Diana’s death, Charles planned out a long-term public relations campaign in which Camilla started to appear in public.
Charles and Camilla finally tied the knot in 2005 (Image: GETTY)
First she would attend events on her own, then they would appear together, then they would be seen to kiss etc.
This plan put the wheels in motion and the British public slowly came round to the idea of Camilla and Charles getting married – and even to Camilla being Queen later.
The couple married in 2005 and Camilla took on the title Duchess of Cornwall, Charles’ lesser title.