Camilla’s coronation alongside King Charles III on May 6 will be a royal milestone as well as a personal triumph for the monarch, who has long been privately determined to make her his queen. She was demonized as “the other woman” in Charles’ marriage to his first wife, Princess Diana, throughout the stormy 1990s.
But she gradually gained acceptance for her unwavering support for her husband and her quiet dedication to charitable causes.
Let’s see who Camilla is:
Prior to the couple’s wedding, Charles said his relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles was “non-negotiable” and would always be “the center of his life.”
At the time, her mother, Queen Elizabeth II, feared the marriage would cause irreparable damage to the monarchy.
Royal experts described a long campaign behind the scenes of Charles’ office to improve Camilla’s image and ultimately ensure she would be queen.
Camilla’s royal seal of approval finally came before Elizabeth’s death last year when she said it was her “sincere wish” that Camilla be known as Queen Consort after her death.
This finally ended a 2005 royal family plan for Camilla to become princess consort when Charles came to the throne.
In recent weeks, the “consort” part of her title has been quietly dropped and she will simply be known as Queen Camilla.
Sense of duty
Although her popularity rating remains lower than that of most other members of the royal family, Camilla is increasingly seen by the public as a warm and down-to-earth figure.
Royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams said the public now has a “benign view of Camilla”, nearly three decades after Charles and Diana’s very public divorce.
“He is someone who has a strong sense of duty,” he told AFP.
“There’s no doubt that she sees her role as supporting Charles, and that they are kindred spirits – similar age, similar sense of humor, similar friends…everything he and Diana had nothing in common.”
“Camilla’s rehabilitation was very successful, and that led to their marriage and it was very happy,” he said.
Camilla has also shown her “tough” side by silently enduring a lot of criticism over the years.
“Three people in this marriage”
Prince Charles and Camilla first met at a polo match in 1970 and began dating. When Charles set sail, they ended things. Camilla married Andrew Parker Bowles in 1973, while Charles married Princess Diana in 1981. Throughout their separation, Charles and Camilla maintained a close relationship.
An intimate phone call between Charles and Camilla was leaked in 1993, causing a huge scandal. Both divorced their partners in the years that followed.
Charles and Camilla went public with their relationship a year after Diana’s death in 1997, and they wed in 2005.
Diana and Charles first met in 1977 through Diana’s older sister, Sarah. Charles was 28 and Diana was only 16. Charles recalled their first meeting as “she was a very cheerful, fun-loving, attractive 16-year-old girl”, calling her “very fun, vibrant and full of life”.
The two then met in 1980, a year after Lord Mountbatten was murdered, and private recordings show Diana sympathizing with the “loneliness” Charles must have felt at the time.
In February 1981, the couple announced their engagement, and during a television interview, a reporter behind the camera asked the couple, “Are you in love?” While Diana replied, “Of course,” Charles added: means.”
Five months later, they married in a lavish ceremony at St. Paul’s Cathedral. A 2017 biography by Sally Bedell Smith describes Charles weeping on his wedding night as the “extremely rambunctious” Diana struggled with bulimia.
Charles’ image took a devastating hit during his acrimonious split from Diana.
In her extraordinary 1995 interview in which she revealed her feelings about her affair with Camilla Parker Bowles, Diana said “there were three people” in her marriage.
The royal couple had made the explosive announcement of their separation in 1992, but following the fallout from the controversial meeting with the BBC show ‘Panorama’, they finally agreed to divorce.
Since Elizabeth’s death last year, the causes Camilla has supported for years have been given a much bigger platform, according to an AFP report.
They include the arts, promoting literacy, and supporting survivors of rape and sexual assault.
“She’s been very low-key in the UK for the past few decades,” former UK ambassador to France Peter Ricketts said, speaking in March ahead of the couple’s state visit to Germany.
“Now she has a moment to be more in the spotlight.”
A cause close to her heart is the Royal Osteoporosis Society, of which she has been president for more than 20 years.
His mother and grandmother both died from this crippling and bone-weakening condition.
Camilla Rosemary Shand was born in London on July 17, 1947 and received a traditional upbringing among the wealthy upper classes.
She first met Prince Charles as a young woman at a polo match in the early 1970s, and they later became close.
But believing Charles would never propose, she married British Army officer Andrew Parker Bowles in 1973.
The couple had two children – food writer Tom Parker Bowles and art curator Laura Lopes. She now has five grandchildren.
Wedding in Windsor
They married on April 9, 2005 in a civil ceremony in Windsor, drawing a cheering crowd of 20,000 to the streets ahead of a religious blessing.
Camilla has since been widely accepted by the royal family, including Charles and Diana’s eldest son, Prince William.
Her youngest son Prince Harry accused Camilla in his recent autobiography of playing “the long game”, with a campaign aimed at “marriage, and possibly the crown with Pa’s blessing, we assumed”.
But Tom Parker Bowles dismissed that claim: “It wasn’t an endgame,” he said last week. “She married the person she loved.”
AFP contributed to this report
Read all the latest explanations here