Camilla’s journey from royal mistress to Queen Consort

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The Queen Consort will be crowned beside her husband the King – a symbolic moment that will seal Camilla’s place in the history of the monarchy.

Camilla’s journey from romantic involvement, to mistress, royal wife and finally Her Majesty has been played out over more than five decades, and culminates in her being anointed and crowned as the nation’s Queen.

There had been speculation about what title she would hold when Charles acceded to the throne, but the late Queen Elizabeth II put the rumours to bed on the eve of her Platinum Jubilee when she said it was her “sincere wish that, when that time comes, Camilla will be known as Queen Consort”.

Royal visit to Ebony Horse Club
Camilla with the Queen in 2013 (Heathcliff O’Malley/Daily Telegraph/PA)

The wife of a king automatically becomes a queen and only a change in legislation would have prevented her from being so.

“The coronation is an appropriate time to start using ‘Queen Camilla’ in an official capacity,” a royal source has said, with the official website set to be updated after Camilla is crowned.

King Charles III coronation
Queen Camilla’s name on the Royal Collection’s official souvenir mugs (Frank Augstein/PA)

Mr Little added: “Charles has made it clear in the last few years, what he’s doing, he couldn’t possibly have done without her.

“So, I think people have been left in no doubt that she is invaluable to him in the same way Philip was to the Queen.”

Camilla’s public image has been transformed after she was cast as the third person in the marriage of the former Prince and Princess of Wales, to become a campaigning member of the monarchy prepared to serve the nation.

Platinum Jubilee
Camilla laughs with Prince Louis, who is held by Charles, during the Platinum Jubilee Pageant (Chris Jackson/PA)

During the 18 years she has been married to the King, the Queen Consort has grown into the role and is now an assured royal host when hosting a reception at Clarence House or travelling overseas.

Camilla is patron or supporter of a number of literacy charities, speaks out in support of victims of domestic violence and champions several animal welfare organisations.

Her most significant role is in supporting the King and being the comforting presence that enables him to fulfil his role as head of state.

Queen Elizabeth II funeral
The King and the Queen Consort during the ceremonial procession following the Queen’s state funeral (Jane Barlow/PA)

“Slowly but very clearly, she has proved her worth as her late mother-in-law saw,” he said.

“Clearly she is an extremely capable woman, but nevertheless she’s going to be taking on this role at a time when her contemporaries will have been retired for 10 or 15 years.”

Charles first met fun, confident Camilla on Windsor Great Park polo field in 1970 when he had just left Cambridge University, a year before he joined the Royal Navy.

Legend has it that she was the one to remind him of a long-standing liaison between her great-grandmother, Alice Keppel, and King Edward VII.

Andrew Parker Bowles and Camilla – Smith’s Lawn, Windsor
Andrew and Camilla Parker Bowles with their son Tom (David Giles/PA)

No marriage proposal came despite the closeness between them, and in 1971 Charles joined the Navy. The relationship cooled as he dedicated himself to duty and long periods away at sea.

Camilla subsequently married cavalry officer Andrew Parker Bowles in 1973, and Charles married the former Lady Diana Spencer in 1981 – but at some point in the 1980s, their romance resumed.

In 1994 Charles confessed to adultery in a TV interview with broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby, but only after his marriage had “irretrievably broken down”.

Camilla Parker-Bowles and Diana at Ludlow racecourse
Camilla Parker Bowles and Lady Diana Spencer (later the Princess of Wales) at Ludlow racecourse in 1980 (PA)

After Charles and Camilla both divorced – and Diana died in 1997 – Camilla’s eventual emergence as Charles’ long-term partner was part of a carefully planned PR campaign masterminded by his spin doctor Mark Bolland.

Their first public appearance together was outside the Ritz hotel in London in 1999, dubbed Operation Ritz, where the mass of waiting photographers had been tipped off.

Queen Elizabeth II death
Charles and Camilla on their wedding day (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

But behind closed doors Camilla appears to have provided the King with the love and normal life, away from his public role, that he has always wanted.

Since the Queen’s death, the Queen Consort has faced criticism from her stepson the Duke of Sussex in his controversial memoir Spare.

Trooping the Colour
Camilla on the balcony with Kate, Meghan and Harry (Yui Mok/PA)

He did, however, describe her as not an “evil stepmother” and said they were “perfectly pleasant” when they saw one another.

Harry wrote of how he and his brother the Prince of Wales endorsed Camilla’s relationship with their father Charles, but begged him not to marry her.

“Shortly after our private summits with her, she began to play the long game. A campaign aimed at marriage, and eventually the Crown, with Pa’s blessing we presumed,” the duke wrote.

But Harry’s stepbrother Tom Parker Bowles has hit out at the claims, saying: “I don’t care what anyone says – this wasn’t any sort of end game.

“She married the person she loved and this is what happened.”

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