“Camillagate”, “Tampongate”, “Tampaxgate”: three names for one of the anecdotes more gory not only than the history of the Windsors, but the entire twentieth century. A scandal that strengthened the emotional and media impact of the love triangle composed by the then Prince Charles, Lady Diana and Camilla, relegating the figure of the latter to the role of lover, family breaker, pariah, third wheel that would have ruined a fairy tale idyll. The truth, as often happens, is more complicated than that and escapes easy categorizations. The fifth season of “The Crown” dedicated a episode to the story, but how reliable is the reconstruction we see in the series from a historical point of view?
An intimate phone call
At the end of the eighties the former heir to the throne Carlo and the then lover Camilla, both still married, would have had the habit of calling each other every evening to talk about different topics, confide in each other and tell each other’s vicissitudes. During one of these conversationswhich took place one night in 1989, on Prince Charles he addressed Camilla with very spicy phrases: “Oh God. I wish I could live in your pants. It would be much easier “. The lover, laughing, replied: “What would you turn into? In a pair of underwear? “. They both burst out laughing, then the prince replied: “Or, God forbid, in a Tampax. So lucky!”. Camilla went on: “You are a complete idiot. What a wonderful idea ”. A few seconds later he added: “Maybe you could turn yourself into a box” and Carlo asked: “What kind of box?”. “A box of Tampax”suggested the lover. “So you could go on for a while.”
This is just an excerpt from a private phone call, a detail that must be highlighted, perhaps recorded by chance by a radio amateur. In truth, even today, the dynamics of the facts are not entirely clear, that is, how it was possible to intercept the call, made public in 1993 by the Sunday Mirror and the People. However, remember the Los Angeles Timesthe recording popped up in conjunction with another private call, made by Lady Dianaso it would not be excluded “The involvement of British … intelligence agencies”. During the conversation, Prince Charles was at the home of a friend, Anne Grosvenor, Duchess of Westminster, while Camilla was in her home with her children. Her husband, Andrew Parker Bowles, was away on business.
A media storm
The transcript of the offending phone call went around the world and several television programs, including Saturday Night Live, even turned it into a parody. Carlo and Camilla remained silent, covered with shame and embarrassment and it seems that the current Queen consort has avoided going out for several weeks. The press lashed out at the couple, especially the eldest son of the Queen Elizabethquestioning his credibility, reputation and even the possibility that he might one day sit on the throne of England.
L’Observerquoted by Vanity Fairwrote: “Can a man who jokingly wants to become his mistress’s Tampax become, in reality, the king of England? Can that man and the British monarchy survive the fact that those private secrets have become public and spread all over the world? ”. The Evening Standard, also quoted by Vanity Fair, was just as harsh: “After forty years of trying his best and ten or fifteen years of public service during which the prince has expressed his views on everything from gardening to global warming … it must be disconcerting for him to acknowledge the fact. that the public will probably remember only two of his statements: the comparison of the proposal to modernize the National Gallery, defined as’ monstrous carbuncle ‘and the desire to reincarnate in Mrs. Parker Bowles’ Tampax ”.
The phone call from Carlo and Camilla in “The Crown”
In the episode “The Way Ahead” of the fifth season of “The Crown” the character of the heir to the throne, played by Dominic West and Camilla (Olivia Williams) almost faithfully reproduce the transcript of the phone call. Yet there would be too much attention to spicy phrases. An almost morbid emphasis. In this regard, biographer Sally Bedell Smith told Vanity Far that the full version of the call focused on much more important topics, but inevitably people and the press were only impressed by the few vulgar phrases about Tampax.
The expert highlighted: “I am struck by the irony [della situazione] so while a good part of the series is invented, from the dialogues to the scenes, we take refuge in the historical reconstruction when it suits the purposes [della serie] denigrating the royal family “. In that phone call, Bedell Smith saw the “vulnerability” of Carlo and his need to be “Reassured” from Camilla. However, recalling the episode of the “Camillagate”, even many years after the event, could prove to be “Potentially harmful” for the new monarchs.
The most critics, then, complain that the series would have come up Netflix too soon: after all, Queen Elizabeth has been dead for about two months and Charles has been king of England for the same time. An anecdote like the “Tampaxgate”, dusted off at such a short distance from these two fundamental moments in the history of the United Kingdom, would not facilitate the new king on the road to popularity, the heart of his people.
The creator and screenwriter of “The Crown” disagrees, Peter Morganwho stated a Entertainment Weekly: “I think we have to accept that the nineties were a difficult time for the royal family and King Charles will almost certainly have painful memories of that time. But that doesn’t mean, in hindsight, that history will be bad with him or the monarchy. The show certainly isn’t… Sometimes people are more forgiving and understanding than we expect ”.