The Meaning Behind Prince Charles And Camilla’s Nicknames, Fred And Gladys

Plus, the backstory behind the gold bracelet the royal gifted his now wife

To the world, they’re known as the Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, but to each other, they’ve long been known as Fred and Gladys—something Netflix’s recently released season four of The Crown delves into. 

The now husband and wife had one of the world’s most notorious and scandalous love affairs, with their relationship spanning decades, marriages, and an onslaught of public scrutiny. 

While the couple wed in April 2005, Prince Charles and then Camilla Shand first met at a Windsor polo match in 1970, where Camilla reportedly reminded the future heir to the throne of the affair between her ancestor, Alice Keppel and his ancestor, King Edward VII.

Throughout his engagement and marriage to Princess Diana, Charles continued his relationship with Camilla—something that many have attribued to the breakdown of their marriage in 1991. 

Netflix’s latest season of its mega-hit royal drama takes a deep dive into the complicated lives of Charles, Camilla and Diana, revealing new details into the toll each relationship took. 

The series depicts Charles and Camilla’s continual phone calls, their secret notes and even the codenames they used to call one another. Below, we look to what the series showed versus what royal experts, and even the royals themselves, have said about the events that unfolded. 

Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles at a polo match, 1970
Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles at a polo match, 1970 (Credit: Getty Images)

Where Did The Nicknames ‘Fred’ And ‘Gladys’ Originate?

Not much detail is known about how and when Charles and Camilla began referring to themselves as Fred and Gladys, but it’s believed the royal found the inspiration behind the nicknames from one of his favourite shows, The Goon Showa British radio comedy show that ran from 1951 to 1960. 

In the program, Fred and Gladys are two characters who appear regularly, but no details have ever been released on why the couple chose these particular ones. 

Did Diana Really Find A Bracelet That Prince Charles Engraved With ‘Fred’ And ‘Gladys’? 

One of the most heartbreaking scenes in The Crown’s latest season is when a lonely Princess Diana, following her engagement to Prince Charles, is left alone in Buckingham Palace for six weeks without her future husband, with nothing to do except Princess training and responding to letters sent by fans across the country.

The episodes depict Diana, going through those letters, discovering a bouquet of flowers which had been sent from Prince Charles to Camilla, with a message that read: “To Gladys from Fred.” 

According to biographer Howard Hodgson in his 2007 book Charles: The Man Who Will Be King, this event actually played out. 

He wrote, “Diana claimed that with [the flowers] there was a message that used what she imagined were the couple’s former pet names for each other‘To Gladys from Fred’.” 

Lady Diana Spencer and Camilla Parker-Bowles at Ludlow Races where Prince Charles was competing, 1980
Lady Diana Spencer and Camilla Parker-Bowles at Ludlow Races where Prince Charles was competing, 1980 (Credit: Getty Images)

We also see a distressed Princess Diana attempt to contact Charles, who is away on a royal tour. She goes to Princes Charles’ royal aide, Michael Colbourne’s office, only to further discover a drawing with the letters ‘G’ and ‘F’ adorned in a sketch for a gold bracelet. 

“Diana confronted Charles about it and he replied that indeed it was a gift for Camilla,” wrote Hodgson. 

While the Prince of Wales admitted to the gift, according to Hodgson, he told Diana that the G and F stood for ‘Girl Friday’. 

Later, in tapes of Diana’s conversations with author Andrew Morton, the late royal gave more details on the incident. 

“I walked into this man’s office one day and I said, ‘Ooh, what’s in that parcel?’ And he said ‘Oh, you shouldn’t look at that,’” Diana recalled. “So I opened it and there was a gold chain bracelet with a blue enamel disc. It’s got ‘G and F’ entwined in it, ‘Gladys’ and ‘Fred’—they were their nicknames.”

The tapes between Diana and Morton also revealed further insights into Charles and Camilla’s affair, including how the newlyweds argued on their honeymoon when he persisted on wearing a pair of that had been a gift from Camilla. 

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