With her husband’s accession to the throne following the death of Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday, Camilla has become queen consort and will take on a new, more prominent role alongside King Charles III.
Just over 25 years after the death of Charles’ first wife, Diana, Princess of Wales, Camilla remains a divisive figure in Britain.
Here’s what you need to know:
Born Camilla Shand in July 1947, she is said to have met Prince Charles at a polo match in Windsor in 1970 and they became friends.
The following year Charles joined the Royal Navy and, while he was away, Camilla married cavalry officer Andrew Parker Bowles. The couple had two children in the 1970s.
Charles married Lady Diana Spencer in 1981, but he admitted in 1994 that he had had an extramarital affair with Camilla.
Camilla divorced Andrew Parker Bowles in 1995. Charles and Diana divorced the following year and Camilla all but disappeared from public life as public and media support swung behind the princess. Pro-Diana and anti-Camilla sentiment was deepened by the outpouring of sympathy for Diana after she was killed in a high-speed car crash in Paris in 1997.
In 1999, Clarence House embarked on a program to reintroduce Camilla to the public with a carefully orchestrated first appearance with Charles outside the Ritz Hotel in London. She moved into Clarence House to be with Charles and her name started appearing on official documents.
Their romance came to a head in 2005, when they married in Windsor, with the Queen’s consent. Camilla, now known as Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall, has been confirmed as Charles’ official wife and future Queen of the United Kingdom.
The Duchess embarked on life as a senior royal, supporting Charles on official UK engagements and on overseas tours, despite her deep fear of flying. She quickly became an asset to the Royal Family and the British Government with her common touch and ability to dispel tension in a room.
The moment her husband became king, Camilla automatically became queen. However, it had long been thought that she would not use the title, with Clarence House releasing a statement in 2005 saying she would instead be known as “Princess Consort”. Some in the palace at the time felt the public was not ready for Camilla to take a title that was meant for Diana.
But over the years, attitudes towards Camilla have softened. In 2015, a CNN poll found that one in four Britons liked her more and more, and fewer people objected to her being known as Queen.
Then, in February 2022, the Queen used her historic Platinum Jubilee milestone to give her blessing that the Duchess of Cornwall would be known as Queen when the time came. It was an extremely important intervention by the monarch, the only person who can define royal titles.
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