In The Crown, Camilla appears to concede that Diana would be a suitable wife for Prince Charles, but Camilla likely had ulterior motives.
In season 4 of The Crown, a conflicted Prince Charles confides in his friend and former lover, Camilla, prompting Camilla to tell Charles that he should marry Diana. Camilla, then Camilla Parker Bowles, was married to Andrew Parker Bowles with whom she had two children, Laura and Tom. At the time, Camilla and Charles were supposedly not romantically involved, but they kept in close contact, often calling each other on the phone.
In season 4, episode 2 of The Crown, “The Balmoral Test,” Charles calls Camilla from Balmoral Castle and tells her that Diana (impeccably portrayed by Emma Corrin) has passed the titular “Balmoral test” – a sort of initiation wherein the royal family tests a person’s ability to fit in by playing parlor games and hunting on the Scottish Highlands. Charles tells Camilla that Diana’s Balmoral debut was “a triumph,” charming his entire family. Camilla’s opinion mattered very much to Charles, so if she had raised any objections to Diana, it’s possible that she could have convinced Charles to not propose. But when Charles admits to Camilla that his family wants him to marry Diana, she replies, “This was always going to happen. The right one was always going to come along.” Though her response was less than enthusiastic, it’s clear that Camilla did not object to Diana, who soon became engaged to Charles.
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According to multiple sources, the reason that the real-life Camilla didn’t mind Diana as Charles’ wife was somewhat spiteful and self-interested. Richard Parker Bowles, Camilla’s brother-in-law at the time, said that Camilla thought Diana was “gormless” and someone that “she could manipulate” [via Time]. Journalist and royal biographer Tina Brown was editor-in-chief at Vanity Fair in 1985 when she wrote that Camilla “had met the blushing little Spencer girl and deduced she was not going to give [her] any trouble.”
Though Charles insisted in a 1993 TV interview that he and Camilla did not begin their affair until after his and Diana’s marriage had “irretrievably broken down,” Camilla’s reaction to Charles and Diana’s engagement indicates that, at the very least, she wanted to keep the option available by ensuring that Charles selected a demure and deferential companion. In The Crown, season 4, episode 3, “Fairytale,” Camilla and Diana share an uncomfortable lunch where Camilla doesn’t seem to be bothered when Diana is humiliated by Camilla’s intimate knowledge of Prince Charles – which she practically flaunts.
For a brief period, Camilla accepted that she and Charles would not work as a couple, but Camilla did not want to give up their relationship entirely. Camilla knew that someone more like herself wouldn’t have allowed Charles to maintain such a close friendship with another woman. However, she incorrectly assumed that Diana would either not notice or not care if she and Charles remained close. In The Crown season 4 finale, “War,” Charles is enraged that Diana’s popularity has hurt Camilla, who, by that time in the late 1980s when season 4 of The Crown takes place, was in an affair with Charles. Camilla underestimated Diana and – whether she deserved it or not – her reputation paid the price.
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