CAMILLA PARKER BOWLES had to wait for six years to become engaged to Prince Charles, after the relationship first went public in 1999 – and the Prince of Wales took so long to propose out of heartbreaking concern for William and Harry, according to a royal author.
Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and Prince Charles have now been married for 14 years, after their 2005 royal wedding. However, in the difficult months and years following the sudden death of Princess Diana, Camilla faced struggles in being accepted both by the Queen and the British public as the Prince of Wales’ new partner. Her struggle to be seen as part of the Royal Family was also intensified by the fact that Prince Charles took six years – after they were first officially seen together in public in 1999 – to propose to her.
However, royal biographer Penny Junor in her 2005 book “The Firm” reveals one reason why the Prince of Wales took so long to get down on one knee.
Ms Junor writes: “A not insignificant part of the reason why they had waited until 2005 to announce their engagement was a sensitivity towards the boys
“They didn’t want to foist a stepmother on William and Harry before they had fully grown up.
“Accepting Camilla as a fixture in their father’s life has been difficult for them.
“Although they have been genuinely pleased to see him so happy, and genuinely like Camilla – and her children – the issue is complicated.
“The notion that their mother was a sacrificial extra in a long-standing love story between Charles and Camilla – a line most of the newspapers ran after their engagement – is hurtful.
“They loved their mother and are fiercely loyal to her memory – and know that Camilla was the cause of her terrifying unhappiness.”
The author notes: “Harry has been particularly affected.”
However, elsewhere, Ms Junor writes that Camilla’s family felt that the Prince had waited far too long to pop the question.
In her 2017 biography “The Duchess: The Untold Story”, Ms Junor describes how Camilla’s father, Major Bruce Shand, thought Charles was “weak” for his dithering.
Ms Junor writes: “Someone who was key in persuading Charles to do the right thing was Bruce Shand.
“He was now 87 years old and though he loved the prince dearly, he thought him weak, and he was worried about how vulnerable he had made Camilla by allowing her to live in limbo.
“He took him aside and said, ‘I want to meet my maker knowing my daughter’s all right.’”
She explains that the rest of Camilla’s family, although they were “fond” of the Prince, agreed with Major Shand.
Ms Junor continues: “They felt that Camilla’s situation was precarious and a bit shoddy, and although she herself had never wanted marriage in the past, things were different now.
“She felt herself to be neither one thing nor another and was secretly grateful to her father for putting pressure on Charles.”