Prince Charles, Camilla Go Public

Prince Charles, Camilla Go Public
Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles
JOHN STILLWELL/Pool/AP

02/11/2005 AT 08:00 AM EST

Prince Charles and his longtime lover Camilla Parker Bowles made their first public appearance since their engagement was announced, PEOPLE reports.

The royal couple on Thursday attended a reception at Windsor Castle, which will be the site of their April wedding. As the pair entered the castle, guests applauded and Parker Bowles took time to show off her square-cut diamond ring, a royal family heirloom. Having spent years avoiding the public glare, she appeared more comfortable than ever in the new role.

Asked by a reporter whether Charles took a knee to propose, Parker Bowles said, "Of course. I'm just coming down to Earth."

Prince Charles, Camilla Go Public| Camilla Parker Bowles, Prince Charles

Camilla Parker Bowles

John Stillwell / Pool / AP

With the blessing of Charles's mother, Queen Elizabeth II, behind them, the prince and Camilla's impending marriage also was sanctioned by Prince Harry and Prince William, Charles's sons. "We are both very happy for our father and Camilla, and we wish them all the luck in the future," they said in a statement.

It has been a long road for Charles and Camilla, whose romance reportedly dates back more than 20 years, through the prince's and Diana's marriage. In a television interview, Princess Diana once famously complained, "There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded."

Parker Bowles was long blamed as being "the other woman," and was reviled by many Britons in light of Diana's popularity.

However, following Diana's death in 1997, many citizens eventually softened their opinions as Charles continued on with his life – and his relationship with Camilla. The couple is to be married during a small civil ceremony on April 8.

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