Addressing the nation on Saturday to mark her platinum anniversary of ascending to the throne, the Queen has praised Camilla for her “loyal service”, expressing her “sincere wish” that The Duchess of Cornwall will be known as Queen Consort when Charles accedes to the throne. Fulfilling Prince Charles’ long time desire for his “beloved wife” to receive the title.
The Queen’s declaration has drawn mixed reactions across the world, with long time royal fans expressing disappointment citing that Princess Diana would have been the Queen Consort if not Camilla and Charles’s reckless adultery. However, others justify the move, saying Camilla has always been the heartthrob of the Prince and has served the royal family with submission and humility.
Princess Diana in her infamous interview with the BBC in 1995 said, “there were three of us in this marriage,” indicating that her marriage was crowded with the presence of Camilla in the relationship with Prince Charles.
Although it’s not clear how and when Prince Charles and Camilla actually met. One account which had been corroborated by close associates and historians reports they met between 1970/71 when Charles was said to have fallen instantly in love with Camilla, who then had been in an on and off relationship with Andrew Parker Bowles for six years. Camilla despite dating Bowles was, however, ready for some fun with the Prince of Wales, noted Sally Bedell Smith, author of Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life.
Although Prince Charles was intensely in love with Camilla, she was however seen as unsuitable for the Prince at least in the eyes of the Monarch. Although Camilla was from an upper-class background, she wasn’t aristocratic, and she reportedly had a reputation for dating a lot of men.
Believing Charles would never propose, she went on to marry her long time on and off lover, British Army officer Andrew Parker Bowles in 1973. Royal guests included the queen’s sister, Princess Margaret, and the monarch’s daughter, Princess Anne who had also been linked to Andrew Parker Bowles.
The pair went on to have two children together and Prince Charles became the Godfather to their son, Tom. It is reported that Prince Charles’s love for Camilla intensified as soon as she was “irretrievably gone,” writes Junor in the book, The Duchess: The Untold Story.
In 1977, Diana Spencer appeared in the picture. Prince Charles first met 16-year-old Diana through her sister, Lady Sarah who he was dating at the time. Sarah reportedly approved of the relationship between her former beau and Diana, claiming to have “introduced them. I’m Cupid.”
Even as Charles began going out with Diana, Camilla remained in his life. Appearing everywhere Prince Charles was, including Prince Charles and Diana courting venues.
At the same time, young and naive Diana reportedly became an acquaintance of Camilla’s mostly in public.
In 1982, Diana and Prince Charles got married in what is said to be a ‘Fairytale’ wedding at London’s St Paul’s Cathedral. The 1992 People article reported that Camilla even served as the Prince’s escort on an official visit to Zimbabwe. Her husband, Andrew Parker Bowles, was stationed there at the time according to Elle.
Despite the high profile marriage to Diana, Charles and Camilla continued to share the same mutual feelings, with Charles allegedly continuing to see the ‘Mistress’.
In 1995, Camilla and Andrew Parker Bowles divorced just a year before Charles and Diana did. Consequently, after Diana’s death in a Paris car crash in 1997, Charles and Camilla were free to revive their decades-long romance, to finally marry in 2005.
Both divorced, and with such scandal hanging over their marriage, coupled with Diana’s death, their relationship remains a subject eyebrow-raising.
Despite their well choreographic PR and her increased prominence, whether she should be given the title of queen when Charles becomes king remains controversial, at least to the general public.
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