Charles and Camilla: has she truly won us over?

Once a target for ridicule and hatred, the public’s view of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, has changed hugely since her marriage to Prince Charles. To mark their tenth wedding anniversary, we assess the real legacy of our future Queen

Prince William and Camilla

Work well together

On foreign tours particularly, where Charles is an ambassador tasked with boosting Britain’s trade, image and tourism, Camilla has been the perfect first lady. “Theirs is no ordinary marriage, where he goes off to work in an office and comes home at the end of the day,” says Robert Jobson, author of The New Royal Family. “They have to work together. Diana was very much out there on her own, and that didn’t do them any favours. But Camilla complements him well.”

Camilla’s lightness of touch is often key. “I was with them on a visit to Christchurch, New Zealand, in November 2012, after the place had been hit by an earthquake,” says Jobson. “There was a dance school performing in the street and Camilla went straight over and joined in. Charles, who would have walked past had he been alone, danced too. Camilla suddenly made the tour upbeat and got it on page one and three of all the papers, which would never have happened had it all been about the destruction.”

Part of the reason Camilla makes Charles so happy, say royal watchers, is that she’s sensible enough not to live in his pocket. “They have their own interests,” says Jobson. “She’s a busy country lady, who loves to walk, ride…and watch Strictly Come Dancing.” Camilla still has her own house, Ray Mill in Wiltshire, and also spends time apart from Charles there, often entertaining her five grandchildren. 

 

Meeting the family

When Camilla met Prince William for the first time, she was so nervous she had to have a G&T to steady her nerves. Her initial relationships with other royals, including the Queen, were cagey too. But, says Penny Junor, Camilla has established a great rapport with the rest of the Windsors in recent years. “William and Harry’s father could be quite tricky at times. But because Camilla has relaxed him, he’s softened with them too.”

“Camilla has her vices—she smokes, she’s made mistakes and her own kids haven’t been cherubs,” says Andrew Morton. “So when Harry’s got into trouble, say, she’s been able to say to Charles, ‘Well, there but for the grace of God…’ ”

Camilla has also been supportive of Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge. She’s reportedly bought her jewellery, taken her out to lunch to advise her on her royal role, and paid for a spa day prior to her 2011 wedding to help her relax.

“I think that has endeared Camilla to the Queen,” says Morton. “She’s shown herself to be down-to-earth, reliable and the right stuff for royalty. Let’s face it, despite her past, it’s been other members of the family who’ve become involved in scandal in the last ten years—look at Prince Andrew.”