Once vilified as a marriage wrecker – not least by Diana, Princess of Wales – Queen Camilla, as she will be crowned, will take her place by the side of King Charles III at his coronation.
It had been Queen Elizabeth II’s “sincere wish”, stressed in a message published on the eve of her 70th accession day in February this year, that Charles’s wife would be known on his accession to the throne as Queen Consort.
It is the same title afforded to Elizabeth, the wife of King George VI, who on the monarch’s passing was given the title of Queen Mother.
“When, in the fullness of time, my son Charles becomes King, I know you will give him and his wife, Camilla, the same support that you have given me; and it is my sincere wish that, when that time comes, Camilla will be known as Queen Consort as she continues her own loyal service”, the Queen wrote
It had long been Charles wish that Camilla would take the title of Queen and be thus crowned and anointed. But that she will be known as Queen Camilla has only been made possible due to an extraordinary switch in public opinion.
Reportedly described by Diana as a “rottweiler” in private, Camilla appeared doomed to be disapproved of by the British public after the bombshell 1995 interview with the BBC’s Martin Bashir in 1995 in which the Princess of Wales complained “there were three of us in this marriage”, in reference to their long love affair.
After Diana’s death in 1997, it then took two years for the heir to the throne and his partner to then make their first public appearance together at a birthday party for Camilla’s sister at London’s Ritz hotel.
But the following year, the Queen signalled her approval by attending a lunch with Charles and Camilla. The couple married on 9 April 2005 in a civil ceremony followed by a religious blessing at St George’s Chapel, with Queen Elizabeth II present.
Camilla took the title of HRH The Princess Consort – a nod to what Charles hoped would come on his mother’s passing. The event drew a cheering crowd of 20,000 into the streets leading to Windsor Castle in what was the clearest sign to date that Camilla had won over the British public.
Prince Harry helped seal her acceptance in 2005 by rejecting the image of Camilla as a “wicked stepmother”, describing her as a “wonderful woman and she’s made our father very, very happy, which is the most important thing”.
“William and I love her to bits,” he said.