When you think of the notorious criminal Charles Bronson, his love life might not be the first thing that springs to mind.
He is one of the UK’s most notorious and violent prisoners but it seems love has no boundaries, even for him.
Yes, soap actress Paula Williamson is not only excited, but proud to call herself Charles’s fiancé. The 37-year-old will marry Bronson, now called Charles Salvador, in a ceremony at HMP Wakefield in Yorkshire next week.
Speaking to the BBC Paula explained the difficulties the couple have faced in making the whole thing go forward and give an insight into their highly unusual relationship.
The pair will wed on Tuesday in a parole hearing room, but Charles will not be able to attend his own wedding reception which will be held at a nearby pub.
Paula said: “We have a bit of time together after the wedding, then he goes back to his cell, which is heartbreaking.”
While the ceremony will be very private, Paula has agreed to write for tabloid paper about the wedding. This is unsurprising given that she famously invited the Daily Mail to capture the moment he proposed.
Paula insisted that she was a “solitary person”, but that she just wants to ensure he is “not forgotten about”.
Paula has received a lot of abuse and criticism because of the relationship and also claims that it is the reason she has missed out on acting opportunities, having previously starred in Emmerdale and Coronation Street.
Paula’s mum won’t attend the wedding because she doesn’t want the media attention and she has some reservations about the relationship.
Paula explained: “Mum’s not coming to the wedding as she’s a private person. Mum was a bit concerned as he has this awful reputation, but she knows I’m a strong-willed character with my head screwed on.”
Speaking about how the couple met, Paula revealed that it was her that she reached out to Charles after reading his book in 2013.
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She said: “I wanted to thank him – it had hope, and really helped me mentally.”
The pair continued to communicate via letters and calls and he eventually asked to meet in person. This led to Charles breaking off an engagement to another woman called Lorraine.
Paula soon wanted to clarify what their relationship status was and just a few weeks in put the question to Charles. He replied: “Well you’re my soulmate of course, we are in a relationship – I adore you.”
Paula recalls the first time she met him: “I wasn’t nervous until I heard the slamming of gates and went through security. Then I heard this booming cockney voice shouting out my name.
“He was in a segregation unit – a prison within a prison – and stood in the corner sparring in mid-air, I thought he seemed like a nervous boy. I said to him, ‘Charlie, come here and give me a hug, it’s bloody me’.”
Ever since, Paula has met with Charles once a week. The couple are only allowed to hold hands and kiss between bars but they will have some time together on their wedding day.
Charles has a parole hearing on 7 November which will determine if he is safe to mix with other prisoners. Paula is confident that he will not spend his whole life in prison. she said: “He’s locked up for 22 hours a day. If I thought he’d be in prison the rest of his life, it would be a strange thing to marry.”