What Was Camillagate?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Camillagate was a scandal which broke in the British tabloids in 1992, when a transcript of an explicit telephone conversation between Charles, Prince of Wales and his mistress Camilla Parker-Bowles was published. By the time the transcript was published, the public was already well aware that the Prince's marriage was experiencing profound problems, but the release of the transcript was a source of intense embarrassment for the British royal family. Later investigations proved that the phones of the royal family had been tapped, allowing access to conversations which had been presumed to be private.

Woman with hand on her hip
Woman with hand on her hip

Charles and Camilla met in 1970, before either party was married, and it is believed that they enjoyed a relationship with each other both before and after their respective marriages. The marriage of the Prince of Wales to Lady Diana Spencer in 1981 attracted a great deal of public attention, and it is possible that Charles and Camilla suspended their relationship for a time. However, it is clear that by the late 1980s, the affair had resumed, and Camilla Parker-Bowles became an extremely unpopular figure in the eyes of the public, as she was blamed for breaking up the “fairytale marriage” between Charles and Diana. Diana famously (and understandably) loathed Camilla.

The sexually explicit phone call released in the Camillagate transcript was made in 1989, and it included extensive details which suggested that Charles and Camilla were sexually involved. Parts of the conversation were also a bit unsavory, adding to the furor when the transcript was published. Only a few years after the Camillagate scandal, Andrew Parker-Bowles and Camilla filed for divorce.

The tangled relationships uncovered by the Camillagate scandal were a topic in Britain and abroad for years after the publication of the transcript. After her divorce from Andrew Parker-Bowles in 1995, Camilla kept a low public profile, until she was seen in public with the Prince in 1999, when the media surmised that their relationship was official. The two went to great lengths to legitimize their relationship, with Prince Charles formally introducing Camilla to the queen in 2000; in 2005, the two were married.

Although Charles and Camilla were married, the shadow of the Camillagate scandal hung over their heads. Disputes over which titles Camilla would be permitted to use may have been sparked in part by the Camillagate events, and some members of the British public expressed unease with the 2005 marriage, given that Charles was the heir apparent. This would make Camilla the eventual Queen of England, although rumor has it that she will officially be known as the Princess Consort, not the Queen.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


Why in the world would Camilla want to find a bride for Charles? I know she was married before Charles and there was pressure on Charles to get married. I also read that Camilla and Charles really tried to stay away from each other and to make their marriages work in the beginning.

I just wish that Charles would have tried harder for the royal family to accept Camilla back then. Instead, they ruined two other people's life in the process of trying to get back together. Not to mention being the most scandalous and ridiculed couple of Britain, as they will always be remembered.


The interesting thing about Camillagate is that all of this absolutely made no difference for Charles and Camilla. They continued their relationship and ended up getting married.

I felt really bad for Diana when I heard about the scandal in the news. Looking back now though, I'm thinking that there really must be a strong bond and love between Charles and Camilla. Why else would they be able to go through so much commotion and pressure and still remain together?


Yes, I remember when this scandal erupted. Many people began to dislike Prince Charles and felt even closer to Princess Diana.

There were so many problems with this relationship and that famous phone conversation that the media couldn't possibly stop talking about it. It was either the story of how Charles and Camilla met, why they didn't marry, the inappropriate metaphor that Charles used in his phone conversation, how shameful this was for the entire family, the condemnation of the church and so on.

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