The Crown: Did Princess Diana and Camilla Parker-Bowles really meet before the royal wedding?

The two women meet for lunch in the Netflix historical drama

Olivia Petter
Wednesday 25 November 2020 07:23
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The new season of The Crown has once again sparked questions about the inner workings of the royal family in the 1980s; how much of what is portrayed on screen is fact or fiction (with a lot of artistic license)? 

While much interest surrounds the relationship between Prince Charles, played by Josh O’Connor, and Princess Diana, played by Emma Corrin, there is also intrigue around Diana and Camilla Parker-Bowles’s relationship - it was later revealed she and Charles had had an affair.

In episode three of the Netflix drama, “Fairytale”, Charles encourages Diana to meet up with Camilla (played by Emerald Fennell) while he goes to Australia and New Zealand for three weeks.

The young Prince of Wales tells Diana, whom he just recently got engaged to, that Camilla is eager to meet her. 

What happens in The Crown when they meet?

In the drama, Diana receives a letter from Camilla inviting her to lunch at a restaurant - appropriately called Menage A Trois. This was a real restaurant in London in the 1980s but has since closed down.

Their meeting is portrayed as fraught, with Camilla revealing the detailed extent with which she knows Charles and consequently, the lack of things Diana knows about him.

In addition to saying that she and Charles speak most days, Camilla also reveals that she and Charles have nicknames for one another: Fred and Gladys.

Did Diana know that Camilla was Charles’ ex?

According to royal biographer Penny Junor, who wrote The Duchess: Camilla Parker Bowles and the Love Affair That Rocked the Crown, Charles initially told Diana that Camilla was just an old friend.

“Instead of explaining to Diana at the outset that Camilla was an old girlfriend, he [Charles] had presented her as nothing more than a friend,” she wrote. 

"It didn't occur to him that she [Diana] needed to know before someone else told her. He came clean after the engagement, admitting that Camilla had been one of his most intimate friends, but reassured Diana that from now on there would be no other women."

Did Camilla and Diana really meet for lunch?

According to royal writer Andrew Morton, the two women did in fact meet for lunch prior to the royal wedding. However, the location is not known.

“The friendly note invited her to lunch,” Morton wrote in Diana: Her True Story - In Her Own Words, a book which was later revealed by the Princess of Wales to have been collaborated by friends of hers, although she denied personal involvement. 

"It was during that meeting, arranged to coincide with Prince Charles’s trip to Australia and New Zealand, that Diana became suspicious. Camilla kept asking if Diana was going to hunt when she moved to Highgrove."

Did Camilla and Diana ever meet again?

The duo were photographed together in 1980 when they both watched Prince Charles compete in a horse race.

Camilla was also a guest at the wedding of Charles and Diana in 1981. Aside from these two occasions, it is not known if they met again.

Did Diana ever confront Camilla about her affair with Charles?

In Morton’s book, he claims that Diana did in fact confront Camilla about her affair with Charles in 1989.

He writes: "'The voice inside me [Diana] had said, "just go for it."' the Princess recalled. 'I said, "I know what's going on between you and Charles and I just want you to know that."'

"Camilla, Diana claims, responded with a 'very interesting' question. ‘She said to me, ’You've got everything you ever wanted. You've got all the men in the world fall in love with you and you've got two beautiful children, what more do you want?' So I said, 'I want my husband’.”

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