Prince Charles' love life before he met Princess Diana was a subject of much speculation and interest in the media. Encouraged by his great-uncle Lord Mountbatten “to sow his wild oats”, the young Prince of Wales had a string of romances with more than 20 mostly titled, aristocratic girls, who were dubbed “Charlie's Angels” by the press.
In 1969, Prince Charles gave his first TV interview with the BBC, where he acknowledged the challenges of finding a suitable wife, saying, “This is obviously very difficult because you've got to remember that when you marry, in my position, you’re going to marry somebody who perhaps one day is going to become Queen.”
Lucia Santa Cruz:
One of Prince Charles' early loves was Lucia Santa Cruz, the daughter of a former Chilean ambassador to London. They had met at Trinity College, Cambridge, where they both studied. Lucia was five years older than Charles and was reportedly the “first real love of his life.” It's not known why their relationship ended, but Lucia apparently first introduced Charles to Camilla Shand.
Lady Jane Wellesley:
Lady Jane Wellesley, the daughter of the 8th Duke of Wellington, was another woman Prince Charles dated in 1973. When their relationship ended a year later, the intense media scrutiny was cited as a reason. Lady Jane once famously snapped at a reporter who asked if there was going to be an engagement announcement, saying, “Do you honestly believe I want to be Queen?”
In 1976, Prince Charles was linked to Davina Sheffield, the granddaughter of the 1st Lord McGowan and cousin of Samantha Cameron, the wife of former UK Prime Minister David Cameron. However, their relationship reportedly ended when an ex-boyfriend talked about his affair with Davina, after which she was no longer considered a suitable candidate.
Lady Sarah Spencer:
Another romantic interest of Prince Charles was Lady Sarah Spencer, the elder sister of Princess Diana. Their brief relationship reportedly ended in 1977 when Lady Sarah talked about their romance with the press. She later took credit for introducing Charles to Diana, saying, “I'm Cupid.”
In 1979, Prince Charles was said to be besotted with Sabrina Guinness, the heiress of a brewing dynasty and an It-girl of her generation. He even took her to Balmoral to meet his family, and Princess Margaret described their relationship as “serious.” However, Charles reportedly ended the relationship after nine months because the Queen was unhappy about Sabrina's “racy” past.
Lady Amanda Knatchbull:
Still on the hunt for a bride, Prince Charles proposed to Lady Amanda Knatchbull in 1980. She was his second cousin and the granddaughter of Lord Mountbatten. The two cousins were said to have developed a mutual respect and friendship that has lasted to this day. However, Amanda had recently lost her younger brother Nicholas and her grandfather in an IRA assassination and reportedly could not reconcile herself to the idea of being so firmly in the royal spotlight.
In 1981, Prince Charles met Lady Diana Spencer, who he would later marry in a spectacular wedding that was watched by millions around the world. Despite his previous romantic pursuits, Charles has been married to Diana and later Camilla Parker Bowles since 2005.