Who did Prince Charles propose to before Diana and Camilla?

Prince Charles
(Image credit: Photo by Molly Darlington - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Prince Charles first proposed to Lord Mountbatten's granddaughter, following his mentor's tragic murder.

Whilst Prince Charles’ romantic life has never been far from the limelight, it seems that the Prince of Wales has also had his share of rejection. Popular Netflix series, The Crown, was particularly open about Prince Charles’ relationships prior to his marriage. However, even the hit series failed to show the woman he proposed to first.

Who did Prince Charles propose to before Diana and Camilla?

In a surprising turn of events, it emerges that Prince Charles first proposed to Amanda Knatchbull, granddaughter of Lord Mountbatten. Her grandfather was not only Prince Charles’ great-uncle, but his mentor. 

Prince Charles and Lord Mountbatten

Lord Mountbatten and his 14-year-old grandson Nicholas were killed in an explosion orchestrated by the IRA in 1979. A 15-year-old boy who had been helping out and the Dowager Lady Brabourne also died.

When did Prince Charles propose to Amanda Knatchbull?

It was shortly after her grandfather’s death that Prince Charles proposed marriage to Nicholas’ sister Amanda. Amanda rejected the proposal, however Jonathan Dimbleby’s 1994 book, The Prince of Wales: A Biography suggests this wasn’t the first time a match had been put forward as a possibility.

According to Dimbleby, Lord Mountbatten himself had previously suggested the match, up to 5 years prior to the proposal. 

How did Amanda’s family react to Charles' interest?

Charles himself had reportedly written to Amanda’s mother (and his own godmother) Patricia Brabourne to reveal his interest in her daughter years before.

But whilst Lady Brabourne was pleased, she suggested waiting until the then 16-year-old Amanda was older before initiating any form of courtship. 

Lord Mountbatten

Lord Mountbatten later arranged for his granddaughter to accompany him and Charles on the 1980 tour of India. However, both Prince Philip and Amanda’s father reportedly objected. 

The decision was made that Charles would go unaccompanied. It was shortly before the tour was due to depart that Lord Mountbatten was killed. Prince Charles proposed to Amanda upon his return, only to be turned down.

Why was Prince Charles’ proposal rejected?

Whilst the exact reasoning for Amanda’s rejection is not publicly known, there have been many suggestions over the years. Perhaps the most likely is that Amanda was still grieving for her brother, grandfather and grandmother. Their murder could also have left her reluctant to enter the full royal fold, scared of further violent action. 

Prince Charles and Princess Diana

Amanda went on to marry property entrepreneur Charles Vincent Ellingworth in 1987. Whilst Prince Charles later went on to marry Lady Diana Spencer in 1981 and have two children, Prince William and Prince Harry

After their much-publicised divorce, the Prince of Wales later married Camilla Parker-Bowles. The couple have now been happily married for 15 years. 

Emma Shacklock
Senior Lifestyle Writer

Emma is a Senior Lifestyle Writer with six years of experience working in digital publishing, ranging from book publishing to magazines. She currently looks after all things Lifestyle for Woman&Home, Goodto.com, and My Imperfect Life.