The True Story of Tampongate: King Charles and Queen Camilla's NSFW Phone Sex

charles and camilla in 1979 special fee applies
The True, Wildly NSFW, Story of TampongateTim Graham - Getty Images


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If you're lurking in this article, first of all hello and welcome. Second of all, I can only assume you just watched The Crown's controversial Tampongate episode, so lemme first say: so sorry for what your ears have been through. Obviously, there are many questions to be asked, and first on the list is: did Tampongate (also known as Camillagate) actually happen? Unfortunately for everyone involved, the answer is yes. Here's the true story of Tampongate.

First Up, Let's Talk Squidgygate

Squidgygate is a different event all together, but it does shed some light on what was going on in England's tabloid culture at the time. Squidgygate went down in 1992 and was eerily similar to Tampongate in that a random person was said to have "accidentally" tapped into a call between Princess Diana and her friend James Gilbey using his radio. This conversation was actually recorded in early January 1990, but The Sun published it in August 1992–dubbing the incident "Squidgygate." Why that name, you ask, in a panic? Because Gilbey called Diana "Squidgy" and "Squidge" multiple times.

Anyway, we're here to talk about Tampongate, a different -gate altogether, but Squidgygate definitely puts some things in context: The royals were being recorded, and their private conversations were being sold to the tabloid press.

charles and diana unhappy
Diana and Charles in November 1992, just months after Squidgygate was published.Tim Graham - Getty Images

Tampongate Was Recorded in 1989

I.e. slightly before the Squidgygate convo was recorded in early 1990. Interestingly, this conversation was also said to be found "accidentally" by an amateur radio enthusiast on a scanner (as we see in The Crown season 5), but it wasn't published by tabloids until January 17, 1993, about five months after Squidgygate was published.

camillagate
RICK RYCROFT - Getty Images

Due to Squidgygate and Tampongate happening back to back (along with yet another rumored tape between Prince Andrew and Fergie), there were some major conversations about whether the royals were being spied on. Per the Los Angeles Times's reporting in 1993, Lord Rees-Mogg, a "pillar of the British Establishment," told the BBC, “I think the three tapes mean that there had to be a deliberate surveillance of the Royal Family at that point. I think one has to ask whether it was done as part of the security screening, and whether what has happened is that the Royal Family were being taped as part of MI-5’s (Security Service) operation, and, in some way, these tapes were leaked.”

Yes, There's a Tampongate Transcript

Here’s a snippet, courtesy of The Mirror, but please be forewarned you cannot un-see this:

CAMILLA: It's like that programme Start The Week. I can't start the week without you.
CHARLES: I fill up your tank!
CAMILLA: Yes, you do.
CHARLES: Then you can cope.
CAMILLA: Then I'm all right.
CHARLES: What about me? The trouble is I need you several times a week.
CAMILLA: Mmm, so do I. I need you all the week. All the time.
CHARLES: Oh, God. I'll just live inside your trousers or something. It would be much easier!
CAMILLA (laughing): What are you going to turn into, a pair of knickers? (Both laugh). Oh, you're going to come back as a pair of knickers.
CHARLES: Or, God forbid, a Tampax. Just my luck! (Laughs)
CAMILLA: You are a complete idiot! (Laughs) Oh, what a wonderful idea.
CHARLES: My luck to be chucked down a lavatory and go on and on forever swirling round on the top, never going down.
CAMILLA (laughing): Oh darling!
CHARLES: Until the next one comes through.
CAMILLA: Oh, perhaps you could just come back as a box.
CHARLES: What sort of box?
CAMILLA: A box of Tampax, so you could just keep going.
CHARLES: That's true.
CAMILLA: Repeating yourself . . . (laughing). Oh, darling, oh I just want you now.
CHARLES: Do you?
CAMILLA: Mmm.

😊

So, What Was Princess Diana's Reaction?

Her former personal protection officer Ken Wharfe recounted it in his book, Guarding Diana: Protecting The Princess Around The World:

“'Game, set and match,' she said, clutching to her a copy of the 'Daily Mirror' containing a transcript of the 'Camillagate' tape as we talked in her sitting room at Kensington Palace.... Later, however, she told me that she had been genuinely shocked by some of the baser comments, particular the Prince's tampon reference. 'It's just sick,' she said repeatedly.”

Meanwhile, royal biographer Howard Hodgson said in a biography of Charles (via The Express) that “even today the episode troubles the prince” and “He knows that people not sympathetic to him or the monarchy will recall it at the time of his coronation and at all other meaningful moments in his life. He remains deeply ashamed of the embarrassment that he caused his mother, deeply sorry for the pain it caused both his and Camilla’s children.”

And speaking of Camilla's children, her son Tom Parker Bowles told the Times (via The Express) in 2014, "I sort of remember not looking at the paper. Because, you know, Jesus, the things we've all said to people that we love. That you wouldn't want the whole world reading."

Welp. As you were.

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