“…Charles was active on the social circuit, dating a string of eligible women and society beauties, including the glamorous brewing heiress Sabrina Guinness”
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In any case, whatever Charles’s early ambitions for his burgeoning relationship with Camilla Shand, they were soon thwarted when, in 1978, duty called and the young naval officer was summoned on an eight-month expedition on the HMS Minerva to the Caribbean.
While he was away, Camilla became engaged to Andrew Parker Bowles. At the time, Charles wrote regretfully of the end of the “blissful, peaceful and mutually happy relationship” of just six months standing that he had lost. “I suppose the feeling of emptiness will pass eventually,” he said.
But though he had lost Camilla, at the same time he could not escape her. She and Andrew Parker Bowles moved in royal circles and were regular guests at Windsor, Sandringham and Balmoral. Camilla always seemed comfortable with the continuation of her warm association with Charles, despite the divergence of their paths romantically. When her first child was born in 1974, she and Andrew asked Prince Charles to be godfather. Meanwhile, Charles was active on the social circuit, dating a string of eligible women and society beauties, including the glamorous brewing heiress Sabrina Guinness.
But his attachment to his first love remained strong. In 1979, after the death of his beloved Mountbatten, some reports have suggested that Charles felt the first real stirrings of tension between what was expected of him and what he really desired. It has been said that at this time he asked Camilla to leave her marriage to be with him, but she, ever the pragmatist, demurred, reminding him that, were that to happen he would be forced to renounce the throne.