Camilla is now happily married to Prince Charles, spending her days alongside the heir to the throne on royal engagements. But as an ambitious 17-year-old, Camilla and her friend Virginia Carrington rented a large apartment together in Belgravia, London. Ms Carrington, daughter of Conservative Party politician and Margaret Thatcher’s former Foreign Secretary, Lord Carrington, once described her as a “total slob”.
Author Jessica Jayne recalls in her 2017 book ‘The Duchess of Cornwall: Camilla’s Story and Secrets’ how Ms Carrington said: “Upon coming home, she would just drop her clothes on the floor on her way to her bedroom.”
Another friend recalled: “Camilla’s bedroom always looked like a bomb had hit it.
“Virginia was fairly tidy, so Camilla drove her nuts.
“You should have seen the state of the bathroom after she’d been in it.”
Ms Carrington described Camilla as “warm-hearted, dependable and good fun to be with, and so nice that her untidiness did not matter”.
She added: “Camilla was so sweet it was impossible to be angry with her.
“She was like a big, boisterous puppy.”
The property they stayed in was reserved by their landlord, the Duke of Westminster, for relatives and other favoured individuals.
Camilla fell into this category as she is a distant relative of Thomas Cubitt, who built the Grosvenor Estate.
The now Duchess of Cornwall started dating the Prince of Wales in the Seventies but it was only a brief love affair that ended when he toured the Caribbean with the Royal Navy and returned to find her engaged to Andrew Parker Bowles in 1973.
Rory Stewart confirmed he locked himself in Prince Charles’ bathroom [EXCLUSIVE]
Brutal name staff gave to Charles during affair with Camilla exposed [INSIGHT]
Astonishing thing Princess Anne and Prince Charles have in common [ANALYSIS]
Charles was heartbroken and history tells us he never truly moved on.
He met Princess Diana in 1977 – when she was just 16 – while he was dating her sister, Lady Sarah Spencer.
In 1980, Diana was a guest at a country weekend and, in between playing polo, Charles started taking an interest in her as a potential bride.
Before proposing in 1981, Charles courted Diana in London for several months – albeit with Camilla an ever-present influence.
Her marriage to Mr Parker Bowles had failed to stop the heir to the throne from spending extended periods of time with his first true love.
The Prince of Wales was named godfather to their son, Tom Parker Bowles, and the family remained close to the royals.
Ironically, some believe it was Camilla who encouraged Charles’ relationship with Diana, mistakenly thinking she would be a malleable presence in his life.
Tina Brown recalls a conversation with Camilla’s former brother-in-law Richard Parker Bowles in her 2007 book ‘The Diana Chronicles’.
She notes that Camilla “initially encouraged the relationship between Charles and Diana because she thought Diana was gormless”.
Ms Brown’s comments in a 1985 Vanity Fair article expand on this further.
She notes how Camilla characterised Diana as “the blushing little Spencer girl” and describes how, by 1980, Charles was under ever-increasing pressure to marry from his family and the press.
Ms Brown writes: “His family wanted it. The public wanted it.
“Like the last Prince of Wales, he liked to confide in married women, and his two favourites, Lady Tryon and Camilla Parker Bowles, wanted it.
“They had met the blushing little Spencer girl and deduced she was not going to give them any trouble.
“Prince Charles was exhausted. He proposed.”
Camilla’s intrinsic link to Charles and Diana’s relationship did not stop there, though.
As royal author Anthony Holden points out: “Where, after all, did Charles propose to Diana? Beside the cabbage patch in the Parker Bowles’ back garden.”
Charles even chose Andrew Parker Bowles to be head of security for his wedding to Diana, ensuring Camilla would be in a prominent position during the service.
Former royal butler Paul Burrell recalls how Diana, knowing the importance of Camilla to Charles, could not help but look for her a she walked down the aisle of St Paul’s Cathedral to greet her husband-to-be.
In 1994, the Prince of Wales admitted to adultery and claimed his affair with Camilla Parker Bowles started in 1986.
Speaking candidly about Camilla, Diana famously quipped in a 1995 BBC Newsnight interview that “there were three of us in this marriage, so it was quite crowded”.
In 1996, Charles and Diana filed for divorce, just one year before the Princess of Wales’ tragic death.
Prince Charles eventually married Camilla in 2005.