The Crown season 4: Princess Diana discovering Prince Charles' bracelet for Camilla could be explored

Naomi Gordon
·6-min read
Photo credit: Express Newspapers - Getty Images
Photo credit: Express Newspapers - Getty Images

From Harper's BAZAAR

The Crown's latest series could take a sympathetic look at how transactional, cruel and perfunctory the conception of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's relationship was – for both parties involved.

As Charles was reluctant to relinquish his romantic interest in Camilla, it could feature the gut-wrenching moment that Diana discovered a personalised bracelet Charles had bought for Camilla just weeks before their wedding in 1981 – as previously retold by Diana herself in tapes recorded for her 1992 biography.

Netflix's royal drama begins as the 1970s are drawing to a close, during which the Queen and her family are preoccupied with safeguarding the line of succession by securing an appropriate bride for Prince Charles, who was still unmarried at 30.

Photo credit: Netflix
Photo credit: Netflix

Josh O'Connor returns as Prince Charles and Emerald Fennell is back as Camilla, while Emma Corrin will make her anticipated debut as Princess Diana.

When Charles met Diana, the royal family very much approved, and the couple began a relationship which saw Charles proposing six months later.

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

How Charles and Diana first met

Charles' first encounter with Diana was in 1977, when she was just 16 and he was 29. The royal was attending a grouse shooting party as a guest of Diana's eldest sister, Lady Sarah McCorquodale, who he was dating the time, at Althorp, the Spencer family home.

Three years later, Charles and Diana met again by chance at a weekend barbecue at mutual friend Philip de Pass's house in Sussex.

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

"He'd just broken up with his girlfriend and his friend Mountbatten [Louis, who was murdered by the IRA in 1979] had just been killed. I said it would be nice to see him," Diana recalled in tapes recorded for Andrew Morton's biography Diana: Her True Story - Her Own Words.

"I was so unimpressed. I sat there and this man walked in and I thought, 'Well, I am quite impressed this time round.' I was different."

Photo credit: Tim Graham - Getty Images
Photo credit: Tim Graham - Getty Images

As for Charles' response to seeing her, Diana added: "He was all over me, following me around like a puppy."

According to various royal sources, the couple only met around 13 times before Charles proposed, and Diana was whisked away from her Earls Court flat to Clarence House in an attempt to shield her from invasive photographers and media scrutiny.

Netflix recently released new images from The Crown which show Emma Corrin's Diana and Fennell's Camilla greeting one another and holding hands, and – despite the uncomfortable love triangle – the pair socialised during this time.

Photo credit: Netflix
Photo credit: Netflix

Charles and Diana were often guests at Bolehyde Manor in Wiltshire, the country home Camilla shared with Andrew Parker Bowles, and both Camilla and Diana attended Ludlow Races where they watched the Prince of Wales competing.

Diana also told royal biographer Morton that Camilla left her a note on her bed at Clarence House asking her to lunch. They met up, but Diana believed Camilla was using it as ruse to find out when she would be able to covertly see Charles on his own after the royal wedding.

Diana's reaction to the bracelet

Charles was away on official duties for much of her stay at Clarence House, and just weeks before their wedding, Diana accidentally happened upon a piece of engraved jewellery for Camilla in the office of Charles' private secretary, Michael Colborne.

The bracelet was inscribed with a 'G' and 'F' - Charles' nickname for Camilla was Gladys, and Camilla's for Charles was Fred.

Photo credit: Tim Graham - Getty Images
Photo credit: Tim Graham - Getty Images

Diana detailed her devastation at the discovery, revealing in her recordings: "I was still too immature to understand all the messages coming my way. And then someone in his office told me that my husband has had a bracelet made for her. I walked into this man's [Colborne] office one day and I said, 'Ooh, what's in that parcel?'

"And he said, 'Oh, you shouldn't look at that'. So I opened it and there was the bracelet. It's a gold chain bracelet with a blue enamel disc. It's got 'G and F' entwined in it, 'Gladys' and 'Fred' — they were their nicknames.

"I was devastated, and I said 'Well, he's going to give it to her tonight'. This was about two weeks before we got married."

Diana said she confronted Charles about the bracelet, but the royal dismissed its significance and sentimental value, arguing that it was just a farewell present for a friend.

"So rage, rage, rage," Diana added. "You know, 'Why can't you be honest with me?' But no, absolutely he [Charles] cut me dead. It was as if he'd made his decision, and if it wasn't going to work, it wasn't going to work.

"He'd found the virgin, the sacrificial lamb - and in a way he was obsessed with me, but it was hot and cold, hot and cold, you never knew what mood it was going to be, up and down, up and down."

Photo credit: Tim Graham - Getty Images
Photo credit: Tim Graham - Getty Images

Royal biographer Penny Junor claimed that Charles ordered bespoke jewellery for women he had been close to during his bachelor days, and that he had a proclivity for buying generous gifts as a 'thank you' to friends.

In Junor's book, The Duchess: The Untold Story, she asserted: "Colborne had been asked by Charles to buy presents for various women who'd been special to him in one way or another during his bachelor years — namely Lady Tryon, Lady Sarah Keswick, Lady Cecil Cameron and Camilla Parker Bowles.

"The Prince is an inveterate giver of gifts, especially jewellery, as a way of thanking people; and he intended to see each of the women individually to say goodbye."

Junor also suggested that Charles didn't understand how Diana, "an insecure 19-year-old might feel about him giving a bracelet to the one old girlfriend she was fretting about".

"Worse, she'd asked Charles if he was still in love with Camilla, and he hadn't given her a clear answer," Junor wrote. "It's small wonder that she became almost demented with suspicion and jealousy."

Photo credit: Fox Photos - Getty Images
Photo credit: Fox Photos - Getty Images

Junor's book also suggests that the prince was so upset that he was set to wed Diana and not Camilla that he "cried the night before the wedding". He is also said to have shot Camilla a furtive glance as he walked up the aisle with Diana.

Charles and Diana married on 29 July 1981 at London's St Paul's Cathedral.

Meanwhile, Camilla is said to have worn the bracelet Charles gave her publicly for years, even after Charles and Diana were married.

The Crown series 4 will launch on Netflix on November 15.

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