The British royal family is big. There are members who are long lasting and younger ones who keep adding new layers to the mix. Meghan Markle and Princess Beatrice are both pregnant, and Princess Eugenie and Princess Anne’s daughter Zara Tindall welcomed babies in February and March respectively, as Hello! magazine noted. With many new faces and older ones still in the public eye, it’s easy to lose track of the complex connections that have developed between them over the years.
While Prince Harry and Meghan have definitely been in the spotlight in recent years, recent events like the deaths of Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth and the hit Netflix series The Crown have also brought new attention to the relationship between some of the older members of the company . The aforementioned Netflix show, of course, digs deep into the love triangle between Princess Diana, Charles and his current wife Camilla Parker Bowles – a relationship that still attracts attention to this day, as evidenced by the BBC’s apology regarding the well-known sit-down between them his then-journalist Martin Bashir and Lady Di.
But The Crown has also sparked curiosity about the relationship between Princess Anne and the Queen consort, who have known each other long before they were sisters-in-law. Hers is also an association that reportedly included a love triangle — or a love square, if you will. Read on to find out more.
Princess Anne dated Camilla Parker Bowles’ ex-husband in the 1970s
In June 1970, then 19-year-old Princess Anne went on a date with a charming British Army officer, Andrew Parker Bowles. If that surname raises eyebrows, it’s because he later married Camilla Shand, who took his surname and was known forever as Camilla Parker Bowles. According to Sally Bedell Smith, author of “Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life” (via Town & Country), Parker Bowles and Camilla met in the late 1960s, several years before he and Anne first started dating Date and dates in and out, meaning a love triangle may have happened at the time.
However, the relationship didn’t seem to have been that serious. In Season 3, Episode 9 of “The Crown,” Princess Anne, played by Erin Doherty, told her family that she and Andrew were “just having a little fun,” as detailed by the Los Angeles Times. The public has no way of knowing if the interaction between young Anne and a humiliated queen actually took place, but Bedell Smith confirmed that the couple was never involved in the long run, she told Elle. That’s largely because Andrew was Catholic, which made him an unlikely suitor for Queen Elizabeth II’s only daughter, Bedell Smith explained. While they were brought together by their love of horses, the two never considered pursuing a serious relationship that could lead to marriage, according to the outlet.
The royal siblings’ relationship with Camilla and Andrew Parker Bowles didn’t overlap
It’s hard to say when Princess Anne and Andrew Parker Bowles split. “It’s unclear when their romance ended, but Anne had no shortage of young men who were interested in her,” biographer Sally Bedell Smith told Elle. But it happened before 1973, when Andrew and Camilla got engaged. According to Bedell Smith (via Town & Country), Andrew – then in his 30s – was under increasing pressure to “make a commitment.” At this point, he and Camilla had been in an on-going relationship for several years, as Town & Country details. “Forcing his hand publicly, Andrew proposed to his girlfriend of nearly seven years,” Bedell Smith wrote in “Prince Charles,” per Elle.
But before Camilla married Andrew on July 4, 1973, she dated King Charles. There is much disagreement as to how Camilla and Charles met, but Bedell Smith claims the couple were introduced by a mutual friend in mid-1972. “Charles and Camilla first met over drinks at Lucia Santa Cruz’s London flat, where she and Camilla were neighbors,” she told Elle.
Andrew was serving in the military when Camilla and Charles began dating, according to the biographer. Then Charles went into military service and when he came back, Camilla was engaged to Andrew. So the royal siblings weren’t dating Mr. and Mrs. Parker Bowles at the same time as The Crown suggests, Bedell Smith told Vanity Fair. But others disagree…
The royal biographer claims Camilla Parker Bowles dated Charles out of revenge
Queen consort Camilla Parker Bowles was romantically linked to Andrew Parker Bowles before he started seeing Princess Anne and he reportedly split from her to court the princess and other women as well, biographer Penny Junor told The London Times . But Camilla was head over heels in love with Andrew and always had been, she told the Times.
According to Junor, when Camilla met Charles in the early 1970s and he immediately became interested in her, she saw an opportunity to get revenge on Andrew and Anne simultaneously. “She was passionately in love with [Andrew] but he was a cad, he banged other people, some of her friends… So when she was introduced to Charles and he thought she was very special… she thought, ‘Andrew is out with Princess Anne at the moment, you know her brother ‘Teach Andrew a lesson.’ So she had an affair with Charles,” Junor said.
While Camilla might have wanted to send a message to both of them, she was more interested in getting Andrew’s attention than hurting Princess Anne. After all, Anne had revealed that she didn’t take her affair with Andrew too seriously, as King Charles’ biographer Sally Bedell Smith told Elle. Anne announced her engagement to Mark Phillips around the same time that Camilla and Andrew gave theirs in early 1973 and married just months after the Parker Bowleses, Harper’s Bazaar outlined.
Both Anne and Camilla Parker Bowles are friends with Andrew
While the love triangle, probably square, was most likely a thorny affair for the British royal family, it appears to have had a smooth ending — at least part of it. Queen Consort Camilla Parker Bowles and King Charles’ relationship formed another love triangle that opened one of the darkest chapters in the family’s recent history, symbolized by his ugly divorce from Princess Diana and her tragic subsequent death as we all know. But the relationship between the other members involved in the early affair proved far more amiable.
Following their short-lived affair, Anne and Andrew have developed a lifelong friend that’s still going strong, Prince Charles’ biographer Sally Badell Smith told Elle. In fact, according to the publication, Anne asked Andrew to be godfather to her second child, Zara Phillips, now Tindall. The two are often seen chatting at events, often accompanied by his goddaughter (as pictured here), suggesting that most of the drama surrounding the love triangle stems solely from Camilla and Charles’ romance.
Camilla and Andrew, who have two children and five grandchildren together, remained friends after divorcing in 1995, a year before Charles and Diana’s divorce was finalized, according to the Oprah Daily. In fact, Andrew and his second wife, Rosemary Pitman, were among the guesses at Camila and Charles’ April 9, 2005 civil marriage, as Elle detailed. And when Pitman died of cancer in 2010, Camilla attended her funeral, according to Marie Claire.
There doesn’t seem to be any bad blood
Many royal family insiders and pundits have claimed that Princess Anne and Queen Consort Camilla Parker Bowles still hold grudges over the events of the early 1970s with Andrew Parker Bowles. “They act like things are fine in public, but it’s well known that the two women can’t stand each other. It got worse when their romantic history was revisited in ‘The Crown,'” New Idea reported in 2020, citing an unnamed insider. According to this insider, Anne is the one who messes with Camilla. “Anne also rarely has time alone with her brother because Camilla is always a nuisance. But Camilla wishes Anne would give her a chance and let go of the past,” the website reported.
However, body language expert Judi James told the Express that they show no tension between each other and are often seen engaging in lively conversations in social situations. “Given her history of dating Camilla’s ex-husband, Anne and Camilla may have had a difficult relationship. But actually, the two women seem very tolerant of each other, to the point that they often look like old friends,” James said.
To get her point across, James analyzed the royal family’s Christmas Day 2019 service, where both royals happened to show up in eye-catching purple outfits. “Camilla pointed this out with a funny elbow movement aimed at Anne and the two women shared a laugh,” she noted.