Queen Camilla's son, Tom Parker Bowles, recently defended his mother that she has not always aimed for the crown, but only married the person she loves. The 48-year-old responded to statements by Prince Harry (38), who had made serious allegations against his father's wife.
That Camilla on Saturday at the side of King Charles III. (74) will be crowned Queen in Westminster Abbey was by no means foreseeable. For a long time it was considered persona non grata by the British. Many blamed her for the failure of the marriage between Charles and Princess Diana, who was revered as the "Queen of Hearts".
Charles and Camilla's relationship goes back a long way. When Camilla Rosemary Shand was born in 1947, she came from an aristocratic family. Legend has it that she approached the shy Prince Charles on the sidelines of a polo tournament in the early 1970s and said, "You know, sir, my great-grandmother was your great-great-grandfather's mistress. How about it?"
It is doubtful whether the same thing happened, the Telegraph reported, citing the couple's biographer Gyles Brandreth. But the attraction between the two was "immediate, mutual and passionate," the newspaper quoted Brandreth as saying.
Despite the relationship with Charles, Camilla initially married officer Andrew Parker Bowles in 1973. The marriage produced two children, Tom and Laura. But Camilla and Charles' relationship picked up speed again a few years after their marriage. The two also met after the Prince of Wales married Diana Spencer, then just 20, in 1981. Brits were horrified when it emerged that Charles was cheating on the pretty and hugely popular Diana with the tomboyish Camilla, who was openly derided as a "Rottweiler".
"There were three of us in this marriage"
It remained an open secret until Diana told the camera in an infamous 1995 television interview, "There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a little tight." Two years later, Diana died in a car accident.
Her younger son Harry opened up about how he felt about Camilla in his autobiography, 'Spare', published earlier this year. Although she did not turn out to be the evil stepmother as feared, she did give information about other royals to the press in order to put herself in a better light. His conclusion: she was "dangerous" and had planned her marriage to her father and her own coronation for a long time, according to the royal, who is now at odds with her family.
When Charles and Camilla married in 2005, the palace said they would one day be called the "Princess Consort." Queen Elizabeth's husband, Prince Philip, who died in 2021 at the age of 99, bore the title of Prince Consort throughout his life. A king always ranks above a queen, according to the logic that applied to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in the 19th century. For Camilla, it was due to the fact that she was divorced.
From the "Queen Consort" to Queen Camilla
That all changed when Queen Elizabeth announced, just months before her death last year, that Camilla should be referred to as the "Queen Consort." A title last worn by Elizabeth's mother, Queen Mum, who died a good 20 years ago.
Only shortly before the coronation did the palace make it clear that Camilla should only be referred to as Queen Camilla after the ceremony. Again, this wasn't a departure from tradition, but it's an amazing rise for Camilla. Many Britons have long since reconciled with her. According to recent surveys, the majority sees them in a positive light.
"It wasn't easy," Camilla said in an interview with Vogue last year about the phase when she and her relationship with Charles were the focus of tabloid reporting. "I've been watched for so long that you had to find a way to live with it," she told the British fashion magazine, adding that she's "just doing her thing" now.
People who have met her personally report an extremely witty and charming person who, although clearly belonging to the British upper class, is said to have a very approachable manner. King Charles should also appreciate that about her.