Camilla Parker Bowles: Everything you need to know

·6-min read

Once known as ‘evil Camilla’ the Duchess of Cornwall has turned her image around and is now seen as an integral part of the royal family.

Here’s everything you might have wanted to know about Camilla.

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall attends a service at St Martin-in-the-Fields for the VC & GC Association on May 10, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Arthur Edwards - WPA Pool / Getty Images )
Camilla is the Duchess of Cornwall. Photo: Getty

Who is Camilla Parker Bowles?

Born Camilla Shand on 17 July 1947, Camilla Parker Bowles is the wife of Prince Charles.

She took the name Parker Bowles when she married her first husband Andrew Parker Bowles in 1973. Today she is known as the Duchess of Cornwall.

Will Camilla become queen?

Not officially. While it’s tradition for wives of reigning kings to be known as ‘queen consort’, when Charles and Camilla got married, they announced: "It is intended that Mrs Parker Bowles should use the title HRH The Princess Consort when The Prince of Wales accedes to The Throne."

This was confirmed in March earlier this year by a royal spokesperson, saying: "The intention is for the duchess to be known as princess consort when the prince accedes to the throne. This was announced at the time of the marriage and there has been absolutely no change at all.”

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and Sophie, Countess of Wessex attend
Camilla will be known as 'The Princess Consort'. Photo: Getty

When did Charles and Camilla meet?

The couple met in 1970 at a polo match when Charles was 22 and Camilla was 24. Camilla reportedly said to Charles: “My great-grandmother was the mistress of your great-great-grandfather. I feel we have something in common.”

Why didn’t Charles and Camilla stay together?

The couple dated but when Charles was deployed with the navy in 1973, Camilla met army officer Andrew Parker Bowles and accepted his proposal. Charles remained friends with the couple and became godfather to their son Tom. In 1980, Charles met Diana, and the couple married in 1981.

Did Charles and Camilla have an affair?

It’s reported they started having an affair in 1986, when they were both still married to other people. Andrew Parker Bowles and Diana both reportedly knew about the relationship. In a video of Diana that she filmed in 1992, she talked about knowing her husband was seeing Camilla. “I remember saying to my husband, ‘Why is this lady around?’” she recalled. “He said, ‘I refuse to be the Prince of Wales that never had a mistress.’”

She also talked about asking the Queen for her advice about the situation. “I went to the top lady. I was sobbing and I said, ‘What do I do? I’m coming to you, what do I do?’ She said, ‘I don’t know what you should do. Charles is hopeless and that’s it.’ That was help.”

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall wave to the people during a visit to Novi Sad on the second day of a two day visit to Serbia on March 17, 2016 in Novi Sad, Serbia. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)
Charles and Camilla first met in 1970 at a polo match. Photo: Getty

What was ‘Camillagate’?

In 1992, tapes of a phone call between Charles and Camilla in 1989 were released. The couple were overheard saying they love each other, talking about how much they missed each other, and Charles told Camilla how he wants to “live inside” her trousers. The six-minute conversation was described as “sick” by Princess Diana, who went on to call Camilla the “third person” in her marriage.

Did Diana and Camilla ever meet?

Yes. The pair attended several events together. Diana told how she once approached Camilla to tell her that she knew about her and Charles’ affair.

“I said, ‘Camilla, I would just like you to know that I know exactly what’s going on’” Diana recalled. “She said ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about.’ I said ‘I know what’s going on between you and Charles, and I just want you to know that.’

“And she said to me, very interestingly, she said to me, ‘You’ve got everything you’ve ever wanted. You’ve got all the men in the world falling in love with you, you’ve got two beautiful children, what more do you want?’”

Diana said she replied: ‘I want my husband.’

When did Charles and Camilla get back together?

Charles and Diana announced their separation in 1992, officially divorcing in 1996. Camilla and Andrew divorced in 1995 after living apart for several years.

In 1997, Charles hosted a 50th birthday party for Camilla, and had planned to introduce the public to his relationship with Camilla soon afterwards. However, just a few weeks after the party, Diana died in a car crash, and Charles was forced to postpone making his relationship with Camilla more public.

In 1998, Charles talked about how Prince William had met Camilla, and in 1999, the couple holidayed in Greece with both William and Harry. In 2003, the couple officially moved into Clarence House together.

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall receive French President Emmanuel Macron during a ceremony at Carlton Gardens on June 18, 2020 in London, England.  L'Appel du 18 Juin (The Appeal of 18 June) was the speech made by Charles de Gaulle to the French in 1940 and broadcast in London by the BBC. It called for the Free French Forces to fight against German occupation. The appeal is often considered to be the origin of the French Resistance in World War II. President Macron is the first foreign dignitary to visit the UK since the coronavirus lockdown began. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
The public once referred to her as 'evil Camilla'. Photo: Getty

Do the public like Camilla?

Once known as “Evil Camilla” in the British press, the royal family have worked hard to boost Camilla’s public approval, with Prince Charles hiring a PR expert to help the couple rehabilitate her image. She started by attending official engagements alongside Charles, and then became president of the National Osteoporosis Society in 2001.

She added to her charity work slowly, and by 2004 she went to nearly all Charles’ events with him. By then, opinion polls of the British public started to show support for the couple’s marriage.

When did Camilla marry Prince Charles?

The couple announced their engagement in February 2005, 35 years after they first met. Camilla confirmed that Charles went down on one knee to propose, and gave her an engagement ring believed to be from the Queen Mother’s jewellery collection.

April 9th 2020 - Charles The Prince of Wales and Camilla The Duchess of Cornwall celebrate their fifteenth wedding anniversary. They were married at Windsor Guildhall, St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle in Windsor, Berkshire, England, UK on April 9th 2005. - File Photo by: zz/AH/AAD/STAR MAX/IPx 2005 4/9/05 Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles on their wedding day. (Windsor, England, UK)
Charles and Camilla married on 9 April 2005 in a civil ceremony. Photo: AP

The couple married on 9 April 2005 in a civil ceremony at Windsor Guildhall, with Prince Charles the first member of the royal family to marry in a civil service. Prince William was the best man and the wedding was also attended by Prince Harry, Prince Andrew, Prince Edward, Princess Anne, and Camilla’s children Tom and Laura Parker Bowles.

The Queen and Prince Philip did not attend the wedding ceremony, but went to the Service of Prayer and Dedication and held a reception for the couple at Windsor Castle. It’s believed this is because the couple wanted to keep the occasion low-key.

Camilla wore a cream silk chiffon dress and matching coat, designed by British designers Antonia Robinson and Anna Valentine, of Anna Valentine. Her hat was by London milliner Philip Treacy, and her shoes were designed for her by LK Bennett.

Does the Queen like Camilla?

Yes, but reportedly it took several years for her to approve of Camilla’s relationship with her eldest son. In 1998, Charles had a 50th birthday party, which the Queen reportedly refused to attend because Camilla would be there. It wasn’t until 2000 when the Queen went to a party that Camilla was going to, that it was seen as a sign she accepted the relationship.

In 2016, Camilla is named as a member of the Privy Council, which is a group of the Queen’s senior advisors. It was reported the Queen wants Camilla to be present when Charles is named King.

NOVI SAD, SERBIA - MARCH 17:  Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall attends a class for young children learning to speak English at the Matica Srpska Gallery on March 17, 2016 in Novi Sad, Serbia.  The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall are currently on a six day tour of the Balkans. (Photo by John Stillwell - Pool/Getty Images)
Camilla is patron and president of over 90 charities. Photo: Getty

What is Camilla’s role in the royal family?

Camilla is patron and president of over 90 charities and attends events to support them. She also assists Prince Charles in his work. Camilla has a special interest in supporting charities that deal with health, literacy, sexual and domestic abuse, heritage and the arts.

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