Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall’s love story has gotten a lot of negative attention because of the sad fate of Princess Diana — and the role that Camilla played in the prince and princess’s ill-fated marriage.

But the reality is that the three-way triangle was a lot more complicated – and Prince Charles knew he loved Camilla a decade before even meeting Diana.

A weekend away and missed opportunity

Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles finally married in 2005, nearly a decade after Princess Diana’s shocking death, but he has shared that he realized Camilla was his “soulmate” in December 1972, nearly a decade before his 1981 marriage to Diana, Princess of Wales.

Charles realized Camilla and him were meant to be after they spent a romantic weekend together before he left on an eight-month deployment with the Royal Navy, but he didn’t tell his beloved of his feelings, revealed royal biographer Robert Lacey.

That set off a sad series of events, as Camilla had no idea of his feelings and ended up getting engaged the following spring to her first husband, Andrew Parker Bowles.

And that is part of the reason Charles and Camila didn’t get married until nearly 35 years later.

He knew she was his soulmate

However, even decades later, Charles remembers that moment as when he “first realized for sure that he wanted to marry Camilla” and that she was his soulmate. But even though he was a prince, he was afraid to tell her!

“Charles declared his love, but not his hand. He whispered sweet nothings, but said nothing of substance. He made no commitment and he asked for none,” Gyles Brandreth, author of Charles and Camilla: Portrait of a Love Affair, wrote in 2005. “Sometimes, the actions we do not take are indeed more significant than those we do.”

This set off a chain of events where they were both in love with each other but married to other people, leading to decades of pain for both them, their spouses and their entire families before they were finally able to be together for good.

Don’t hold back telling someone how you feel

If you love someone, and know it, tell them. Don’t waste the opportunity – you never know if you will be lucky enough to have another chance again!

More celebrity love stories: