UK Markets close in 31 mins

Were Camilla Parker-Bowles and Princess Diana ever friends?

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·4-min read
Lady Diana Spencer and Camilla Parker-Bowles at Ludlow Races where Prince Charles is competing, 1980. (Photo by Express Newspapers/Archive Photos)
Lady Diana Spencer and Camilla Parker-Bowles at Ludlow Races where Prince Charles was competing in 1980. (Express Newspapers/Archive Photos)

Season four of The Crown finally brings Lady Diana Spencer onto our screens.

The change of Lady Di from shy teenager to blossoming royal will be revealed as well as her struggles in her marriage and her relationship with Camilla, then Parker-Bowles.

Camilla, now married to Prince Charles, was briefly dating the royal heir, and their friendship continued despite the break-up.

The Crown will show Charles leaning on Camilla through his courtship to Diana, despite the fact she is already married to Andrew Parker-Bowles.

The two also share phone calls after Diana marries Charles, with the Prince of Wales complaining to his old friend about his new wife.

Read more: Prince Charles and Camilla’s love story

CAMILLA PARKER-BOWLES AND DIANA SPENCER AT LUDLOW RACECOURSE TO WATCH THE HORSE THE IRISH GELDING ALLIBAR WHICH PRINCE CHARLES WAS RIDING IN THE AMATEUR RIDERS HANDICAP STEEPLECHASE IN WHICH HE FINISHED SECOND TODAY.   (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)
Diana and Camilla attended the Ludlow races together to watch Prince Charles competing. (PA Images)
UNSPECIFIED -  UNDATED: (FILE PHOTO) HRH Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles are seen together in late 1979 before his marriage to Diana.  Clarence House has confirmed today that Charles and partner Camilla Parker-Bowles will marry, at a date expected to be circa April 6, 2005.  (Photo by Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)
Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles are seen together in late 1979 before his marriage to Diana. (Tim Graham Photo Library)

In one episode, as Diana finds her feet while Charles is out of the country, he suggests she call Camilla and seek her friendship and advice - which Diana is not sure about.

She decides she will go for lunch with her fiance’s ex-girlfriend, and Camilla delights in telling Diana the habits of Charles which the younger woman has not yet noticed.

According to biographer Howard Hodgson, Camilla was keen to make sure that Diana felt welcomed.

Rather than Charles suggesting they have lunch, Hodgson said it was Camilla who left Diana a note to see if she would join her, because the prince would be abroad for three weeks.

Hodgson said: “It was genuinely friendly and the intentions were good.

“She and Diana had by now got to know each other quite well and Camilla thought they were friends.

"She wanted to support her because she thought she was fun and made the Prince happy.”

Several years later, when Diana was speaking to Andrew Morton, she recalled the lunch differently.

Camilla Parker-Bowles (left) and Lady Diana Spencer (later the Princess of Wales) at Ludlow racecourse to watch the Amateur Riders Handicap Steeplechase in which the Prince was competing.   (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)
Camilla Parker-Bowles (left) and Lady Diana Spencer at Ludlow racecourse to watch the Amateur Riders Handicap Steeplechase. (PA Images)

In Diana: In Her Own Words, she remarked that Camilla had asked if she liked shooting and wondered if Camilla was working out when she might see Charles on her own once they had married.

Diana and Camilla’s friendship did not last long once Diana was married to Charles, as she was suspicious of the former flame.

The show will also touch on the gift that Charles gave Camilla before he married Diana - a bracelet which was engraved with the letters ‘G’ and ‘F’.

The letters referenced their nicknames for each other of Fred and Gladys.

Windsor, UNITED KINGDOM:  Britain's Prince Charles and his bride Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall leave St. George's Chapel in Windsor following the church blessing of their civil wedding ceremony, 09 April 2005. Prince Charles married Camilla Parker Bowles, the true love of his life, on Saturday in a private civil ceremony that inevitably paled against his storybook wedding to Princess Diana more than 20 years ago. AFP PHOTO/Alastair Grant/WPA POOL/AP  (Photo credit should read Alastair Grant/AFP via Getty Images)
Charles and Camilla eventually married in 2005 in Windsor. (Alastair Grant/AFP)

In an interview in 1997 she recalled the moment she found the jewellery.

She said: "I was still too immature to understand all the messages coming my way. And then someone in his office told me that my husband has had a bracelet made for her.

"I walked into this man's office one day and I said, 'Ooh, what's in that parcel?'

“And he said 'Oh, you shouldn't look at that'.

"So I opened it and there was the bracelet. I was devastated, and I said 'Well, he's going to give it to her tonight'.

“So rage, rage, rage. You know, 'Why can't you be honest with me?'

“But no, absolutely cut me dead.”

Camilla reportedly wore the bracelet for many years.

Diana also recalled a conflict she had with Camilla in the early 1990s, and said it was when she had discovered her husband’s infidelity.

According to the Morton biography, Diana confronted Camilla while at Camilla’s sister’s birthday party.

Diana, The Princess Of Wales, Prince William And Prince Harry, Ride In A Horse Drawn Sleigh, In Lech Austria, During Their Annual Ski Holiday, Accompanied By The Princess'S Friends Catherine Soames, And Kate Menzies. (Photo by Julian Parker/UK Press via Getty Images)
Diana with Prince William and Prince Harry, during a ski holiday. (Julian Parker/UK Press)

She claimed she told Camilla: “I said, ‘I know what's going on between you and Charles and I just want you to know that.’”

She said Camilla replied: “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?”

Diana said: “I want my husband.”

She also said she told her “don’t treat me like an idiot”.

In an interview in 1994, Prince Charles denied that he had been unfaithful, and said he had not rekindled his relationship with Camilla until his marriage was broken down irretrievably.

The following year, on Panorama, Diana made her famous statement - “There were three of us in this marriage, so it was rather crowded”.

Charles and Diana were separated in 1992, and divorced in 1996.

Diana died in 1997. In 2005, Charles married Camilla in a civil ceremony with a blessing at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle.

The Crown is streaming on Netflix now.

Watch: The Crown: Charles and Diana’s royal wedding