‘The Crown’ Camillagate Scandal, Explained: How Did Prince Charles Have A Negative Impact On The Monarchy?


Charles called his title “Prince of Wales” a predicament because he didn’t have the power to make any sort of impact on the world. Unlike his predecessors, he was not ready to live a dissipated life. In the 5th season of “The Crown,” we saw that he was restless to hold the reins in his hands before it was too late. He always felt that his privileges had shackled him, and no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t break them. He wanted to work; he wanted to make a mark; he wanted to create a legacy, but he wasn’t allowed to do that. Probably he was the only man in the world whose job profile was to sit idle and be inconsequential. Everyone around him knew exactly what was going on in his mind. They knew that he wanted the queen to abdicate the throne. Prince Charles had been openly expressing his resentment to the entire world. The Queen also knew about it, but she chose to turn a blind eye to it. Queen Elizabeth had a cardinal rule: she always said that doing nothing was sometimes the best course of action, though it could be frustrating. Often, when he couldn’t deal with his emotions, he called his lover, Camilla Parker-Bowles, and had a chat with her. Camilla understood Charles way too well. She knew exactly how to make him happy. It was a very weird and uncompromising relationship that they both shared.

A lot of times, Andrew Parker Bowles picked up the call, and he knew what was going on between his wife and Prince Charles. The institution of marriage was given a lot of importance by the royal family, but the irony was that the heir to the throne was mocking it like no other. Queen Elizabeth was against it, but she was well aware that she couldn’t do anything about it. It was 1989, and Charles called Camilla because he wanted her opinion on the speech that he was going to make at Oxford University the next day. Camilla had friends and family over for dinner, but still she stayed and heard the speech. A man sitting in his caravan with some sophisticated radio equipment intercepted the call between Charles and Camilla. He recorded it as he had realized that it was the Prince of Wales who was talking to his mistress. He took the recording to the Daily Mirror, as he knew that the publication wouldn’t want to miss out on the opportunity and would want to be the first to tell the world about the scandal. He was pretty sure that he would get a huge amount in return because of the nature of the conversation. Prince Charles didn’t stop after narrating his speech to Camilla. The lovers proceeded to have a very intimate conversation. There was nothing unusual in that. Diana and Charles were a pseudo couple, but in reality, Charles had always been in a relationship with Camilla. The royal family knew about that, but as always, they closed their eyes, hoping that the world also would not see them.

After Diana and Charles separated on December 9, 1992, the “Daily Mirror” decided to publish the scandalous recording. Charles was informed about the same, and he felt helpless at not being able to do anything about it. Richard Aylard also said that the transcripts of the conversation would be published subsequently. Charles knew that the reputation of his family was at stake. But he couldn’t stop the storm from coming. He could just brace himself and keep hoping that it fizzled out as soon as possible. Charles said that it was a private matter between two consenting adults and that it was no one else’s business. Maybe the media was violating their privacy, but surely it wasn’t just a private matter. The radio enthusiast who had intercepted the call said that he didn’t do it intentionally and that he had accidentally stumbled upon it. Prince Charles had forgotten that he belonged to the royal family and whatever happened in his life was a in fact a public matter, no matter how much he denied.

Prince Charles read his conversation in the newspaper, along with the entire country. His rumored affair had ceased to be just a rumor. Prime Minister John Major had always found the younger generation to be feckless and irresponsible, and the tape recording just corroborated his beliefs. He cringed after reading the transcripts, and he knew that it wouldn’t be an easy task for the Monarchy to defend its stand and bear the backlash. Peter Bowles read it too. He knew that his marriage was a hoax, but those words especially made him feel the pangs of infidelity. He was not in a position to say much, as it was already a lost cause, but it did affect him.

The Camillagate tapes caused an uproar in British society. Prince Charles had always boasted about how he would be a better King, but now the people of the nation were questioning his credibility. It had definitely tarnished his image, and he knew that the scandal would haunt him for his entire lifetime. He believed that it was equivalent to an assassination. It didn’t matter how relentless he had been or how much work he had put in. Just one publication had ravaged everything. Prince Charles somehow managed to absolve himself of the accusations and put the blame on the orthodox thinking of the Monarchy. He blamed the sycophants and the public for thinking that there was any fault of his. Camillagate had brought a lot of embarrassment to “The Crown.” Charles talked about big changes that he wanted to make in the Monarchy, but the people had lost faith in him and questioned if he was actually capable of doing that. Charles said that the Monarchy was in a rut and that he wanted to give her people something that they could look forward to and feel excited about. But the people wanted him to sort out his private life first and take it out of the mess that it was stuck in. People also formed the perception that Charles ill-treated his wife, Princess Diana.

In the end, you just cannot decide if Charles should have been held guilty for talking to his lover. It is an undeniable fact that he disregarded his marriage by indulging in an extramarital affair, but not everybody knew about the repercussions of making him marry against his will. The Monarchy had brought this situation upon itself. The whole nation looked up to them, and they should have had a better understanding of human psychology. It is said that restraint is no less than a physical assault, and “The Crown” was guilty of that. The imprudence of Monarchy and their desire to stick to immutable values had led the younger generation to feel claustrophobic. Their freedom was being curtailed arbitrarily, and some day or other, it had to backfire. The time passed, the world changed, but the Camillagate scandal still haunts the royal family. Though our conscious and woke society prefers calling it the Tampongate Scandal (as Camillagate was a sexist nomenclature), the king would have wanted them to forget about it altogether rather than argue about what the apt name could be.

See More: ‘The Crown’ Victoria Syndrome, Explained: Should The Queen Have Abdicated The Throne In Charles’s Favour?

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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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