by DENNIS ELLAM in Toronto To the world there was only one other woman involved when Prince Charles and Diana’s fairytale marriage ended…his mistress Camilla Parker Bowles. Diana herself was aware of only one rival. “There were three people in that marriage,” she said in her famous Panorama interview. Yet at the very time he was said to be fighting to save his crumbling relationship, Charles was cheating on Diana and Camilla by having an affair with a tall, willowy blonde.
Now the woman who first became his secret lover and confidante in the 1970s has told for the first time how she slept with him at Highgrove in July 1992, while Diana was living at Kensington Palace and Camilla was forced to maintain a discreet distance.
Janet Jenkins, now 55 and twice divorced, reveals how:
– Charles first tried to seduce her in his private rooms in Buckingham Palace – before they finally made love in her apartment with his security guards waiting outside.
– He gave her a gold bracelet from Asprey’s and a silver pillbox engraved with the Prince of Wales feathers. –
The Queen was furious when she found Janet and Charles had spent a weekend together in Balmoral…yet he still invited her to his wedding
– Diana was furious and “looked daggers at her” after Janet hugged Charles at his 40th birthday party.
– Charles took her to bed for the last time in Highgrove after she knocked on his bedroom door and asked to borrow some toothpaste.
– The Prince wrote love letters to “My Darling Janet” and was so tired after one date that he failed his Naval exams.
Janet says she is only breaking her silence now so people realise that as well as being a future king, Charles is also human, and often a lonely man. “I don’t think either of us planned that the evening together in Highgrove should end in sex,” she says. “But he was lonely and he needed company. When we made love, it wasn’t out of lust as it used to be in our younger days. It was out of a yearning for companionship. “I didn’t feel I was helping to break up a marriage. It seemed to me it was a marriage already over. I was extending comfort to a friend just as you might at a funeral.
“I guess you could say Charles was cheating on all of us, but likewise, we were all cheating on our husbands. Everyone was cheating on someone. I remember listening to Diana, a few years later, as she described how there were three people in her marriage. That night there were four.
“As far as I know Diana never suspected and Camilla’s name was never mentioned, not even during that night at Highgrove.”
Janet lives with her son Jason, 16, in a smart apartment block in Toronto. But it was in Montreal, working for the British Consulate, that she first met Charles in 1975.
Their on-off romance ended just before Charles met Diana, but they kept in touch, speaking on the phone every few months and meeting in both Canada and Britain. So it was at first just as old friends, that she told him she would would be visiting London in the summer of 1992 and he invited her to Highgrove for the weekend. “A car collected me in London and dropped me off at Highgrove. Charles was waiting at the door to greet me with a kiss on each cheek,” she recalls.
Dressed in a a pair of baggy cords, she was struck by how “weary, much older and thinner” he had become; a despondent Charles, agonising over his marriage.
William and Harry were away at school, and Diana had apparently moved permanently back to Kensington Palace. That afternoon, Charles suggested that they take a walk. “I was totally unprepared but he fished out a pair of wellingtons and a Barbour coat that belonged to someone else – Diana? who would know?”
Later, back at Highgrove he gave her a bunch of lavender – her favourite flower – and poured out his troubles. “We started the evening with champagne for old times’ sake. “On our first dates I was terribly nervous and tense, and he told me what Queen Victoria used to say – that a glass of champagne is good for a woman, because it gives her a sparkle What he meant was it makes her sexier.”
She says it was impossible not to feel sorry for him as he poured out his feelings for the next four hours. “I sat with him, holding his hand. His marriage was in deep trouble. We talked about Diana and her erratic behaviour, her weeping fits, her attempt to throw herself down the stairs “He said, ‘I’ve tried speaking to her, but she won’t see reason. I don’t know how to reach her. Every time I try she just refuses me’.”‘
He told her it was Diana’s decision to send the boys away to boarding school. Charles had wanted to keep them at home for one more year as day boys, but she saw their removal as one more way of hurting him. “He also told me that William had witnessed some of Diana’s scenes such as when she locked herself crying in the bathroom. “He told me that it was upsetting for the boys and added, ‘I hope they remember that when all the screaming and shouting was going on, I wasn’t shouting back.