Camilla: Who is the wife of King Charles and the new Queen of Great Britain?

LONDON: After being described for years as Britain’s most hated woman, Camillathe second wife of King Charleswas crowned queen on Saturday, marking a remarkable turnaround in public acceptance that few would have thought possible.
When Charles’s divorced first wife, the popular and glamorous Princess Diana, died in a car accident in Paris in 1997, Camilla suffered the brunt of media hostility. Some said the couple could never get married.
But they married eight years later, and since then she has been recognised, albeit still reluctantly by some, as a key member of the royal family, someone on whom the new king relies heavily, and as the leader of the nation. Queen Camilla.
“She’s his kind of soul mate,” said longtime royal correspondent and ‘Queen of our Times’ author Robert Hardman, pointing out that she had been married to Charles longer than Diana.
“They are a team. And you have to be a team.”
Born Camilla Shand in 1947 into a wealthy family – her father was an army major and wine merchant married to an aristocrat – she grew up in social circles that brought her into contact with Charles, whom she met on a windswept polo field in the early 1970s.
The couple dated for a while and Charles had considered marriage but felt too young to take such a big step.
While pursuing his naval career, Camilla married a cavalry officer, Brigadier Andrew Parker Bowles. The couple had two children, Tom and Laura. They divorced in 1995.
Charles himself married 20-year-old Diana in a 1981 wedding that enchanted not just Britain but the world. After having two children, William and Harry, the relationship turned sour and they divorced in 1996 after rekindling her romance with her former lover.
The depth of this relationship was revealed to a shocked public in 1993 when a transcript of a secretly recorded private conversation with extremely intimate details was published in the newspapers.
“I would suffer anything for you. This is love. This is the strength of love,” Camilla told Charles in the secretly taped phone conversation made public in 1993.
In a television interview the following year, Charles admitted that he had resumed their affair, but said that was only after his marriage had broken down irretrievably.
“There were three of us in this marriage – so it was a bit crowded,” Diana, who dubbed Camilla “the Rottweiler,” said in her own TV interview in 1995.
While Diana brought glamor to the sultry Windsor home with her shimmering dresses, many Britons couldn’t understand why Charles would prefer the countryside-loving Camilla, usually pictured wearing a scarf and a green waterproof riding coat.
“I can’t imagine anyone in their right mind leaving you for Camilla,” Prince Philip, father of Charles and husband of the late Queen Elizabeth, said in a letter to Diana.
The focus of criticism
Amid an outpouring of public grief and anger over Diana’s death, Camilla has been the target of harsh criticism. But over the next few years, royal aides, tasked with rebuilding the tarnished reputation of the royal family as a whole, also slowly began to weave Camilla into a more public role.
From the chance to appear in public together, to Queen Elizabeth’s wedding and approval last year to Camilla taking on the title of queen consort, their success is complete.
Public relations experts say it was the result of hard and thorough work, although aides said it was mainly down to Camilla’s personality and great sense of humour. “She is resilient, she was brought up with this extraordinary sense of duty where you get along, don’t complain, put on your best face and carry on, and that has served her well,” Fiona Shelburne, the Marchioness of Lansdowne, a close confidante of Camilla, now 75, told The Sunday Times last month.
However, its rehabilitation has a cost. In his memoirs, Charles’s younger son Prince Harry accused his stepmother of leaking stories about him to the press to improve her own reputation, and that he and his brother asked their father to not marry her.
Polls also suggest she hasn’t won the public’s affection either. A YouGov poll this week found 48% had a positive opinion of her, 39% had a negative opinion, putting her among the least popular in the royal family.
Other surveys also indicated that only a minority thought she should be Queen Camilla.
“I think Diana…will be throwing lightning on coronation day for sure,” royal author Tina Brown told Reuters. “I mean the thought of a crown being placed on the head of her deadliest rival, Camilla, I think would have given her absolute heartburn.”


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