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

Camilla and Charles

The royal engagement

As royal engagements go, it was never going to create the wildest celebrations. When royal correspondent Robert Jobson broke the news in February 2005 that Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles were to marry, some people were quietly pleased, some were ambivalent and many others were distinctly uncomfortable.

What right did the woman behind the divorce of Charles and Diana have to replace her much-loved predecessor? How could a middle-aged former mistress, divorcée and smoker ever make a suitable Queen

But Charles and the love of his life were married on April 9, 2005, and ten years on their relationship appears as strong as ever. So how has Camilla fared in her decade since becoming Charles’ wife? Were the doubters correct, or has the Duchess of Cornwall started to change a few minds?

 

A positive effect?

Royal experts certainly agree that Camilla has had an incredibly positive effect on Charles—both in his royal work and personally.

“If you read his old interviews, he had long said that what he wanted from a marriage was a companion and a supporter,” says Andrew Morton, author of the famous 1992 blockbuster Diana: Her True Story. “Since they’ve been married, Camilla has been his cheerleader-in-chief, playing the royal wife in a very dutiful way, like Queen Alexandra with Edward VII or the Queen Mother with George VI.

“He’s got lots of ideas—ideas that often change—so he’s criticised a lot and he’s prone to doubt,” says Morton. “When that happens, it’s nice to have someone like Camilla at the end of the day who’s great at saying, ‘There, there.’ ”

Charles can be charming, though royal watchers say that he’s also cantankerous, occasionally brusque with his aides and over-serious.

But, says Penny Junor, author of Prince Harry: Brother, Soldier, Son, he and Camila have a shared sense of humour, and because she’s always giggled more easily than him—free from a lifetime of being told to be neutral in public—she’s made him more relaxed, demonstrative and easy-going.

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