By his own admission to Jonathan Dimbleby in his 1994 interview promoting the book, The Prince of Wales, the first officially authorized biography of Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne admitted he hadn’t started cheating on his then wife, Diana, until he felt their marriage, “had irretrievably broken down. The both of us having tried.” While Charles was nonspecific concerning precisely when he felt his marriage had affectively ended, or what final event led him to that conclusion, several biographers, at least one of whom penned her memoir prior to this fateful interview, have put the date His Royal Highness decided to get his potential Windsor babies back into circulation around 1986, when he learned his terminal mood swing having spouse hadn’t only cheated on him with her bodyguard, Barry Mannakee, and was currently spreading her legs for her favorite riding instructor, James Hewitt, but was also engaging in seasonal trysts every summer with his own cousin, King Juan Carlos l of Spain, while both families were vacationing together at the king’s estate on the Spanish island, Majorca.
Yet this whole time, as Diana revealed in her own subsequent television interview, she suspected her husband of cheating on her with his former chief paramour, Camilla Parker Bowles. Sally Bedell Smith was the first non-Charles approved biographer to reveal in her book, Diana In Search Of Herself, which also posited the conjectural theory that she suffered from borderline personality disorder, that the former Princess of Wales was in fact the first partner in their doomed marriage to break their wedding vows. Certainly, one of the reasons why former Vanity Fair editer-in-chief, Tina Brown, characterized Charles by the mid ’80s as being pussy whipped from here to eternity was because of his determination to conduct a faithful, storybook marriage, so unlike that of his jaded parents, and was constantly accommodating Diana’s every emotional demand no matter how much it pained him. From alienating himself from some of his best friends, to firing some among his most trusted and qualified courtiers, to constantly chasing after his mercurial spouse with a readily available box of Kleenex whenever she ran away from him while in the midst of one of her frequent crying outbursts, His Royal Highness appeared hell bent on being a male nanny to his hopelessly immature wife, no matter how miserable he became in the process. And then he discovered, by ’86, she’d been cheating on him for at least the previous year. He clearly decided all bets were off after that.
As Lady Colin Campbell writes in ,Diana In Private, The Princess Nobody Knows, by the late ’80s Charles wasted no time in making up for those several years he’d spent not philandering behind Diana’s back. Aside from reentering Camilla’s warm embrace, a place where so many men had gone before, and reinstating her as his maitresse en titre, he also began prowling the waters for other, fresher extramarital ports of call. Charles’ general criteria for a mistress was that she be married, this throwing off suspicion from naive observers, and a few years older. As Tina Brown states in The Diana Chronicles, British royal males rarely psychologically exit their nurseries. According to Brown, Camilla supposedly advised Charles when they first had sex to think of her as a rocking horse.
Among the Prince of Wales’ late ’80s confidantes there was the Florentine aristocrat Bona, the Marchesa di Frescobaldi. Long wed to the head of one of Italy’s oldest noble dynasties and a decade older than her lover, Bona was renowned among high society circles for the artistic and intellectual salon she hosted at her fabulous palazzo. While the tabloid press soon caught wind of the Prince of Wales having become a frequent guest of hers, they ignorantly assumed Charles was banging her pretty, twenty something daughter, Fiametta, instead of her. Not wishing to dampen their daughter’s marital prospects by allowing her to be speculated upon by the tabloids as being the heir to the British throne’s latest side chick, but unable, for obvious reasons, to clarify the truth with the Fleet Street press, the Frescobaldis breathed a sigh of relief when their daughter became safely married off to a prince of the d’Arenberg family. Once the ’90s dawned, Charles and Bona’s friendship endured, but their romantic relationship fizzled out.
Another of the Prince of Wales’ paramours was Candida Lycett-Green, daughter of Sir John Betjemen, and like her one time royal lover, a religious architecture enthusiast. There was also Patti Palmer-Tomkinson, the wife of one of his oldest friends and the mother of the recently deceased former “It Girl,” Tara Palmer-Tomkinson. She was among the skiing party, along with Charles, who fell victim to a sudden avalanche in Switzerland that took the life of their friend, Major Hugh Lindsey in 1987. Patti was badly injured in the accident, and Charles visited her several times in Klosters during her recovery. His tenderness towards Patti was in marked contrast to the coldness with which he brushed aside Diana’s attempts at comforting him. Few close observers, writes Campbell, however viewed the princess’s actions as anything more than a theatrical attempt on her part to demonstrate what a caring (sic), devoted (sic) and loyal (really sic) wife she was, particularly when others were around to witness Di in all her theatrical glory.
Since the author’s returned to the subject of Diana, one might’ve suspected, like so many other royal and aristocratic wives who’d cuckholded their husbands in the past, that she took a sophisticated, jaded view of her husband’s retaliatory philandering, and would’ve been happy enough for him to be distracted while she continued riding in the saddle with her favorite cavalry officer. The Princess of Wales, however, was cut from a different cloth. Specifically, she descended from a branch of the older English aristocracy that regarded the House of Windsor as nothing more than glorified, foreign originated parvenus. Ghislain de Diesbach writes in Secrets of the Gotha that throughout the 18th century many a Whig political party supporting aristocrat, like Diana’s immediate ancestors, lived in far grander style than the royals, and only deferred to the newly arrived German House of Hanover, whose surname was Guelph, as a mere constitutional necessity. Jonathan Dimbleby writes in his authorized Charles bio that as late as the ’40s certain elements within the truly old nobility still snickered at the self importance of the House of Windsor, given their fairly recent historical ascendance. Even Diana inadvertently revealed the extent of her arrogance when she told Andrew Morton in his notorious, dictated practically verbatim hagiography, Diana: Her True Story, the oft repeated, delusional quip about her ancestry being almost as royal as her husband’s.
Allied to her special brand of English aristocratic entitlement was a genuine belief that she’d fooled Charles, and their social circle, into believing she was a faithful spouse who had every right to publicly claim her territory when she felt the sanctity of her marriage being violated. Such an occasion arose in the late ’80s at the royal box at Covent Garden when Diana found herself sharing said box with her husband and his mistress of the moment, Lady Sarah Keswick. A daughter of the Earl of Dalhousie, she was yet another older, married, classical music loving matron that turned the Prince of Wales on in a manner his wife hadn’t in years. Despite Charles at that time still willingly accompanying Diana to her annual summer trysts with the king of Spain, under the cover of a joint family vacation, on the island of Majorca, and even begging off to spend time with an aristocratic friend of his while he allowed his wife to discreetly slip away for some private amusements with her favorite distant in-law, Diana still felt insulted that Charles dared bring his latest whore around his spouse and have her seated near Diana in the hallowed royal box at the opera!!!!
With her false sense of martyrdom suitably ignited, the Princess of Wales, according to one eyewitness that spoke with Lady Campbell, proceeded to cuss her husband and his mistress the f**k out in full audible range of all sitting near them. Diana, however, didn’t save her indignation for the opera. For she knew, as well as anyone, that it was Guards Polo Club that served as the go to place for many a tryst, or the arrangement of an illicit tryst, among her husband’s circle. As such, by the late ’80s she made it a point to occasionally drop in unannounced to the grounds after she knew her husband had played his last chucker. On one such occasion Diana’s rumored to have very nearly caught Charles red handed in the changing rooms with another well healed, classical music lover: a sultry, German, jet setting multiple divorcée named Eva O’Neill.
Some readers of this blog might recognize her as the mother of Chris O’Neill, Princess Madeline of Sweden’s, rumored alcoholic, current husband. Recently divorced from American multi-millionaire financier, Paul O’Neill, by the late ’80s, and long before she played matchmaker to her children among Europe’s royals and aristocrats, she was yet another menopausal maiden who kept loving company with Britain’s heir to the throne in between his weekend visits to Mrs. Parker Bowles. During one blissful afternoon following a match when Charles and Eva were presumed by all to be squeezing in a quickie in the changing room, Diana unexpectedly showed up to the club and immediately demanded to see her husband. It still remains a mystery whether she arrived there because her women’s intuition told her to do so, or because a friend spying on her husband for her simply tipped Diana off, but at any rate she arrived just as her prince and his new favorite hausfraus were getting it on, and she was determined to catch them!
Although it still remains a mystery how Charles and Eva might’ve been tipped off concerning Diana’s presence, given cellphones didn’t exist at the time, tipped off they nonetheless were, and Eva had no other means of escape aside from climbing, assisted, out of a window, which is exactly what she did. Had Diana expected to gather enough evidence that day to initiate separation proceedings, she was greatly disappointed. By the time she encountered her husband he was quite alone, and probably explained his sweat and fatigue as resulting from his just finished polo match.
Of course Diana wasn’t finished yet. Charles soon tired of his harem and settled down with his main, married side chick: Camilla. Diana soon gathered enough evidence to contact first Lady Colin Campbell with the proposal she write the mother of all secretly authorized royal tell alls, totally indicting her husband’s infidelity while skipping over her own, then when she began doubting Lady Campbell’s loyalty, she turned next to Andrew Morton and had delivered to him several hours of tapes he transcribed practically word for word into a poorly written memoir. The rest is history.
This story, however, contains one final anecdote. By 2003 Charles and Diana were divorced, Camilla and her husband were the same, Diana was dead, and the Prince of Wales was by then openly keeping his long term favorite mistress at his grandmother’s former London residence, Clarence House. During the summer of that year he accepted an invitation from Eva to attend the Mozart Festival, which she hosts every year in Salzburg. Also in attendance with HRH was his soon to be second wife, Camilla, walking obediently several steps behind him while he warmly greeted his hostess. The assembled paparazzi caught Mrs. Parker Bowles’ facial expressions as she winced while her lover was embracing his former paramour. There are dark rumors that the Cornwalls, as they’re sometimes laughingly referred to behind their backs, still enjoy an accommodating relationship whereby Charles, while his wife is away at her private country estate on the weekends playing with her grandchildren and catching up on her voluminous correspondence, mostly with polite, deferential strangers she’s never actually met, her husband amuses himself with the casual, no strings attached, stress relieving company of mostly married lady friends. One of the many reasons why Camilla is now one day slated to become Britain’s next queen consort is because she’s, to put mildly, not the jealous type. All’s well that ends well!!!!