It was ultimately the Queen Mother's death that allowed Prince Charles to propose to Camilla Parker Bowles
According to accounts written by various royal watchers, the Queen Mother stepped in and played a maternal role while the Queen was away
It's a well-known fact that Prince Charles didn't share the best relationship with his parents, the Queen and Prince Philip while he was growing up. The heir-to-the-throne spent extended periods of time in the care of nannies who witnessed his first steps, his first words and carried out parental duties of rewarding him for good behavior and the like. Charles, like most of his siblings, grew up in the absence of his parents who often traveled the world to carry out duties required of the monarch, and during these long periods of travel, Charles luckily had the warmth of his dear grandmother, Elizabeth.
According to accounts written by various royal watchers, the Queen Mother stepped in and played a maternal role while the Queen was away. Charles' grandmother saw in him traits that she embodied, most noticeably a sense of humor that was much like hers.
She identified his shy reticent behavior, his fondness for music and his sensitive nature, and she came to love them. Perhaps it is safe to say that these qualities made him her favorite among all her grandchildren. This is all too evident in a letter the Queen Mother once wrote to the Queen who was in North Africa in 1953 on a Commonwealth Trip.
She wrote, "You may find Charles much older in a very endearing way. He is intensely affectionate. And loves you and Philip most tenderly.I am sure that he will always be a very loving and enjoyable child to you both."
According to Piers Brendon, author of The Windsors: A Dynasty, the Queen Mother came to understand him in ways the Queen never did. Charles received an inexhaustible supply of warmth and love in her hugs. He told Daily Mail, "The Queen mother was huggability personified, she was tremendously affectionate and welcoming and warm and cuddly.Whereas the Queen was a very distant mother."
And this closeness between the two carried him through some of the toughest times in his life. The Queen Mother corresponded with him frequently when he was away at Gordonstoun, a boarding school in Scotland that he once defined as "hell."
In a letter just before his Investiture, she wrote, "My darling Charles, I can't tell you what charming and heart-warming things I am always hearing about you. Everyone loves you and is proud of you and I absolutely know you will be able to do wonderful things for this country. Not only in leadership but by being your own kind-hearted, loving and intelligent and funny self."
Indeed, the two supposedly spent plenty of time at Clarence House and according to royal insiders, the grandmother-grandson duo was quite a raucous party. Many an evening at her residence would be shaded with Charles confiding his problems and the Queen Mother extending her gentle support. In fact, it is believed that she stood by her grandson's side even as his infidelity to Princess Diana became public knowledge in the 90s.
The Queen Mother is believed to have discounted his extra-marital affair as she thought that's how men were. At the same time, she was particularly harsh on Diana for not standing by her husband's side. The late princess believed that it was the Queen Mother who drove a royal campaign against her after her divorce from Charles.
While there isn't concrete proof to suggest the Queen Mother's involvement, Colin Burgess, who served as her equerry once said that she was furious with Diana. When asked if she had watched her grandson's televised interview with Jonathan Dimbleby admitting to his infidelity, she responded, "Some things are best not discussed," with a smile that narrowed and eyes that winced, reported Grazia.
By all accounts, the Queen Mother and Charles's relationship was one of the healthier ones he had. Perhaps that's why he was crushed after her death in 2002. He said in an emotional speech that he dreaded this day, adding that she meant "everything" to him. Privately, however, he set afoot plans to marry his longtime love, Camilla with whom he was practically living in.
Royal watchers predicted that Charles might propose to Camilla after the Queen Mother's death. Why? The royal never approved of Camilla and refused to get acquainted with her even as the public's image of the Duchess of Cornwall softened after Diana's death.
She didn't receive Camilla at Clarence House even though she knew her favorite grandson was affected by this. In the Queen Mother's mind, it was essential to keep up appearances and Camilla wasn't part of the family, yet. And she would have preferred to have it that way.
Even as she allowed Charles and Camilla to use Birkhall, her house on Balmoral Estate in Scotland for romantic getaways, marriage was a line she dared him not to cross.
The Queen Mother feared that their wedding could affect his ascension to the throne, a dream he cherished since he was given the title- Prince of Wales. The fear resulted from witnessing her brother-in-law Edward VIII renounce the crown in order to marry Wallis Simpson, a divorced American.
However, with her death came the prospect of a new life- that of being a married man once again. The Queen and Prince Philip knew that Camilla held a non-negotiable space in Charles's life and she agreed, rather reluctantly, to see this through.
After all, it would be bad news if the heir-to-throne had a mistress living with him at Clarence House, a residence he came to occupy after the Queen Mother's death. In 2005, Charles and Camilla exchanged vows in a civilian ceremony in Windsor but this event wouldn't have ever come to be if Princess Diana had listened to the Queen Mother or if she was still alive.