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Prince Charles’ dating history: A look back at the future king’s long line of royal romances

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 4 days ago Katie Strick

“In or out?” The Queen asks Prince Charles’ great-uncle and close confidante Lord Mountbatten in episode one of The Crown after reading about her son’s latest conquests in the papers. 

The future king was reportedly advised by Mountbatten to “sow his wild oats and have as many affairs as he can” while he was young and his string of romances resulted in his girlfriends being dubbed “Charlie’s Angels” by the press. 

According to royal experts, the Prince had more than 20 relationships over the 13 years between 1967 and 1980, the year he met Diana Spencer, the future Princess of Wales. 

Prince Charles wearing a suit and tie: Portrayed by Josh O’Connor in series fourNetflix / PA © Provided by Evening Standard Portrayed by Josh O’Connor in series fourNetflix / PA

But Diana wasn’t the only Spencer romantically linked to the future king. Charles reportedly dated her older sister Sarah three years earlier, and had flings with several other society figures and daughters of the aristocracy before his self-imposed deadline of marrying by the age of 30. 

So who were the others? From Charles’ first ever girlfriend to the women who turned down his proposals, this is a timeline of his dating history. 

Lucia Santa Cruz

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Who: Daughter of the former Chilean ambassador to London.

When they met: 1967, while Charles was studying at Cambridge University.

How they met: The pair are said to have met at a dinner party hosted by a mutual friend.

Status: Dated.

Relationship history: In many ways, Lucia Santa Cruz had many things in common with Charles’ later wife Diana: both were blondes, daughters of aristocrats and attended a Swiss finishing school. 

Lucia was five years older than Charles and "the first real love of his life”, according to biographer Sally Bedell Smith. He even reportedly took her to Balmoral to meet the family.

Little is known about how the pair ended but ironically it was Lucia who introduced the prince to the future love of his life.  In his authorised biography of the Prince of Wales, author Jonathan Dimbleby says Lucia told Charles she had “just the girl” for the young prince and subsequently arranged for the royal to meet Camilla Shand - later Parker Bowles.

The aristocrat has remained close to Charles and Camilla. In 2009, when the prince and the Duchess of Cornwall embarked on an official tour of South America, they visited her in Lima. then, in 2011, she was invited to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding.

Camilla Parker Bowles

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Who: The daughter of a British Army officer whose great-grandmother, Alice Keppel, was a mistress of King Edward VII.

When they met: 1971 to present. According to Charles and Camila: Portrait of a Love Affair by Gyles Brandreth, they met in 1971 but it is more commonly believed that they actually met the following year, in 1972.

How they met: Brandreth suggests they were introduced by mutual friend Lucia Santa Cruz (above) while most other accounts say they met at a polo match in Great Windsor Park the following year.

Status: Married.

Relationship history: When Charles married Diana in 1981, he was reportedly already smitten with his former girlfriend, then Camilla Shand. They reportedly courted for six months after Charles pursued her with “elaborately worded love notes” and late-night telephone chats, but they broke up when Charles left to serve in the Royal Navy. 

When he returned after eight months, Camilla was engaged to her on-and-off-again boyfriend, British army lieutenant Andrew Parker Bowles, who she married in 1973. 

Five years into Charles’ marriage with Diana Spencer, he and Camilla began an affair, admitting to committing adultery in an interview with Jonathan Dimbleby. When asked if he tried to be “faithful and honourable" to Diana, Charles replied: “Yes, absolutely,” but when probed he added: “Yes… until it became irretrievably broken down, us both having tried.”

Charles and Diana officially separated in 1993 and Camilla and Andrew followed suit in 1995. In a 1995 interview for Panorama, Diana famously said, “There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.”

After Diana’s death in 1997, Charles and Camilla rekindled their romance, moving in together at Clarence House in 2003 and announcing their engagement in 2005. Charles proposed with an art deco-style ring that had belonged to his grandmother, the Queen Mother, and they married in a civil ceremony in April 2005. 

Prince William served as the best man, and Camilla's son Tom was a witness. Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip didn't attend the ceremony but made an appearance at the Service of Prayer and Dedication at St George's Chapel.

Camilla and Charles weren’t the first in their families to have a royal affair. Camilla reportedly idolized her great-grandmother, Alice Keppel, the mistress of Charles' great-great-grandfather Edward VII.

Lady Jane Wellesley

Who: Daughter of the 8th Duke of Wellington.

When they met: 1973-74.

Status: Dated.

Relationship history: Lady Jane Wellesley reportedly had a courtship with Charles in her early twenties and was considered to be a key candidate for marriage.

The couple were together between 1973 and 1974 and blamed their break up on intense media scrutiny.  

When once asked if there was to be an engagement announcement, Jane replied: “Do you honestly believe I want to be Queen?”

Lady Sarah Spencer

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Who: Daughter of 8th Earl Spencer and elder sister to Princess Diana.

When they met: 1977.

Status: Dated.

Relationship history: The pair had a brief fling in 1977 but split after she spoke about their relationship to the press, apparently telling a reporter she wasn’t interested in marrying the heir to the throne.

She reportedly told Time magazine in 1978: "There is no chance of my marrying him. I'm not in love with him. And I wouldn't marry anyone I didn't love whether he were the dustman or the King of England."

Sarah went on to marry Neil McCorquodale in 1980. The couple have three children: Emily, George, and Celia.

While many might feel strange about their younger sister seeing their ex-boyfriend, Sarah reportedly took pride in the fact that she set them up. 

“I introduced them,” she once said. “I’m Cupid.”

Sarah remained largely out of the spotlight until Diana’s death but went on to helm her sister’s memorial fund and staying close to her nephews, attending the weddings of both princes.

Sabrina Guinness

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Who: Brewing dynasty heiress and society ‘it girl’.

When they met: 1979.

Status: Dated.

Relationship history: Charles was said to be besotted with the beautiful brewing dynasty heiress and took her to Balmoral to meet the family. They went to the polo and theatre together and she pointedly took fly-fishing lessons as it was one of Charles’s favourite hobbies. 

Princess Margaret described the relationship as ‘serious’, but Charles was said to drop her suddenly after nine months as The Queen was unhappy with her ‘racy’ past. She was always said to be the “liveliest” of Charles’ girlfriends. 

After dating Charles, Sabrina went on to date a string of A-listers from Mick Jagger to David Bowie. Being ‘Charles’ ex’ labelled her for 34 years until 2014 when she married acclaimed playwright Sir Tom Stoppard.

Lady Amanda Knatchbull

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Who: Granddaughter of Lord Mountbatten.

When: 1980.

How they met: Through her grandfather, Lord Mountbatten.

Status: Proposed.

Relationship history: Writing in his 2007 biography, author Howard Hodgson described how Mountbatten’s granddaughter Amanda had become fond of Charles.

“She was equally impressed with his energy, enthusiasm, sense of fun, kindness and modest self-deprecation,” he wrote.

“She was indeed a very sensible and loving girl, who genuinely did share all the same interests as the heir to the throne.”

Charles proposed to Amanda in 1980 and The Queen is said to have been keen on the pairing, but Amanda turned the proposal down, citing the glare of the royal spotlight.

Anna Wallace

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Who: The daughter of wealthy Scottish landowner Hamish Wallace.

When they met: 1980.

Status: Proposed.

Relationship history: After passing his self-ordained marriage deadline of the age of 30, Charles dated Anna Wallace, the daughter of a Scottish landowner known among her circle as “Whiplash Wallace” for her fiery attitude. He proposed twice but she turned him down both times.

Author Jessica Jayne claimed that Anna broke off their courtship during the Queen Mother’s 80th birthday party after Charles had ignored her all evening, but another author suggests the two actually parted ways due to the Prince’s relationship with Camilla.  

“Charles had taken her to two successive balls and then danced with Camilla for most of both evenings,” Penny Junor wrote. “Anna dumped him with the words: ‘No one treats me like that – not even you.’”  

The couple had only just ended their relationship when Charles met Diana in the summer of 1980.

Lady Diana Spencer

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Who: Daughter of 8th Earl Spencer and younger sister to Charles’ ex-girlfriend Sarah Spencer.

When they met: 1980.

Status: Divorced.

Relationship history: The pair first met through Diana’s older sister, Sarah, in 1977. Charles was 28-years-old and Diana was just 16. Recalling their first meeting, Charles said he could “remember thinking what a very jolly and amusing and attractive 16-year-old she was”, calling her “great fun, and bouncy and full of life”.

The two next met in 1980, a year after the assassination of Lord Mountbatten and private tapes hear Diana saying that she sympathised with how “lonely” Charles must have been feeling at the time.

It soon became apparent that Charles was considering Diana as his wife when she was invited to spend some time with the royal family at Balmoral in November 1980. Ahead of the proposal, Charles wrote in a letter to a friend that he wanted to “do the right thing for this Country and my family”.  

The couple announced their engagement in February 1981 and during a television interview a reporter behind the camera asked the couple: "Are you in love?". While Diana giggled and replied: “Of course”, Charles added: "Whatever ‘in love’ means."  

They married five months later in a lavish ceremony in St Paul’s Cathedral. A 2017 biography by Sally Bedell Smith describes Charles weeping on his wedding night while “the extremely turbulent” Diana was fighting bulimia. 

The couple went on to have two children, Prince William and Prince Harry, but it slowly became obvious that they weren’t a good match. Charles reportedly grew increasingly jealous of the attention paid to his wife, believing that she was overshadowing his charitable causes. “They’ve come out to see my wife, they haven’t come out to see me,” he is said to have told aides during a visit to Wales early into their marriage.

The pair began to live increasingly separate lives and in 1986, Prince Charles began an affair with Camilla Parker Bowles. Diana also admitted to being unfaithful in the marriage with former Army officer James Hewitt.

According to interview tapes recorded by Andrew Morton for a Charles biography, Diana claims to have confronted Camilla at a party and said: "Camilla, I would just like you to know that I know exactly what is going on between you and Charles. I wasn't born yesterday." 

Camilla reportedly replied: "You've got everything you ever wanted. You've got all the men in the world to fall in love with you and you've got two beautiful children. What more do you want?" Diana replied: "I want my husband."

In November 1992, reporters releases private tapes of intimate phone conversations between Charles and Camilla, confirming their feelings for each other. The tabloids later called the incident "Camillagate." 

A month later, Prime Minister John Major confirmed martial problems between Diana and Charles and announced their separation. Their divorce was finalised in 1996. 

The following year, Diana was killed in a car crash in Paris with her new partner Dodi Fayed and their driver Henri Paul.


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