Though they’ve only been married for 15 years, Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall’s romantic relationship stretches back nearly 50 years. The pair were married to other people while carrying on an affair that rocked the British royal family.

However, it was clear from the beginning that they were meant for one another. In fact, Prince Charles can pinpoint the exact moment he knew that Camilla was his soulmate.

Prince Charles was not allowed to marry Camilla Parker Bowles

Though they have only been married since 2005, Prince Charles and Camilla originally met and began dating in the 1970s. The prince was beginning to find his footing amid added responsibilities as the heir to the royal throne. Meanwhile, Camilla was in an on-again, off-again relationship with her now ex-husband, Andrew Parker Bowles.

The prince was immediately taken with Camilla when they first met. The duchess was “not in any way overawed by him, not fawning or sycophantic,” royal biographer Penny Juror wrote in The Duchess: Camilla Parker Bowles and the Love Affair That Rocked the Crown via Good Housekeeping.

Unfortunately, the royal family did not see Camilla as a suitable match for the future king. Eventually, she married Parker Bowles while the prince was stationed away with the Royal Navy.

Camilla Parker Bowles and Prince Charles began their affair when they were married to other people

Though the pair were not allowed to marry in the ’70s, it did not stop them from remaining in each other’s lives. In fact, Prince Charles is Camilla’s son’s godfather. The duo eventually struck up an affair in the early ’80s during their respective marriages. Royal biographer Andrew Morton wrote in his book, Diana: Her True Story,

Charles’ bodyguard was forced to accompany the prince on illicit nighttime visits to see Camilla, while his chef and butler were instructed to cook dinner even though they knew Charles would be out with his lover. Charles’ valet was instructed to mark up the TV listings guide to make it look like the prince had spent the night at home watching television. When Charles broke his arm in a polo accident, his staff was responsible for listening to police radios to track Diana’s journey to the hospital, so they could get Camilla out of Charles’ room before the princess arrived.

Though Princess Diana was always suspicious of Charles and Camilla, their affair went public in 1992, when a private phone call between the duo was leaked to the press.

This is the moment Prince Charles knew Camilla Parker Bowles was ‘The One’

Though Prince Charles thought Princess Diana was a suitable wife, he’s always known that Camilla was the one for him. He realized that she was his soulmate in Dec. 1972.

The pair spent a long weekend together that month just before Charles’ eight-month deployment in the Caribbean. According to royal biographer Robert Lacey’s book Battle of Brothers: William and Harry – The Inside Story of a Family in Tumult, this was “the moment when he first realized for sure that he wanted to marry Camilla—that she was his life’s soulmate. But he did not have the courage to tell her properly or strongly enough.”

By March 1973, Camilla was engaged to Parker Bowles. “Charles declared his love, but not his hand. He whispered sweet nothings but said nothing of substance. He made no commitment and he asked for none,” Gyles Brandreth, author of Charles and Camilla: Portrait of a Love Affair wrote. “Sometimes, the actions we do not take are indeed more significant than those we do.”

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