The British monarchy is steeped in tradition and protocol, and the royal family is expected to adhere to these standards. As such, when Prince Charles began dating Camilla Parker Bowles in the 1970s, there was a major issue that prevented them from being together.
Though it seems almost comically old fashioned now, the fact that Camilla had a dating history was a major strike against her. “The conventions of the time called for the heir to the British throne to marry a woman who at least appeared to be virginal,” writes Sally Bedell Smith in her book, Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life.
At the time, Camilla had been married to Andrew Parker Bowles since 1973, and was in a relationship with Charles since 1971. This did not sit well with the royal family, who were determined to uphold the conventions of the time. As a result, Charles was not allowed to be with Camilla.
The couple were forced to keep their relationship a secret for many years, as the British public was not ready to accept a divorced woman as a potential queen. It was only after the death of Princess Diana in 1997 that Charles and Camilla were able to publicly declare their love for one another.
The couple eventually married in 2005, after Camilla’s divorce from Andrew Parker Bowles was finalized. The marriage was met with some criticism, but it was ultimately accepted by the public.
Though the conventions of the time prevented Charles and Camilla from being together, the couple ultimately persevered and were able to make their relationship work. Today, the couple are happily married and serve as an example of how love can conquer all.