Camilla’s remarkable journey from royal mistress to queen consort

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The Queen Consort will be crowned alongside her husband King Charles – a symbolic moment that will seal a relationship that has enthralled the nation.

Camilla’s journey from romantic engagement to mistress and finally wife to the king spanned more than five decades and would culminate in her official status as the country’s queen.

There had been speculation about what title she would hold when Charles came to the throne, but the Queen put the rumors to rest in February when she said it was her “sincere wish that, when the time comes, Camilla will be known as the Queen Consort”. ”.

Camilla and the Queen in 2014 at Dumfries House (Danny Lawson/PA)

Joe Little, of Majesty magazine, said: “It’s amazing what a difference 20 years makes, it’s gone from not quite obscurity to the second highest in the country, so it’s quite an upward trajectory in a relatively short period of time.

In her February statement, the Queen also spoke about the role of bridegroom, saying that in her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, she was “blessed” to have a partner “ready to play the role of bridegroom and to selflessly make the sacrifices that go with it. ”.

Mr Little said: ‘Charles has made it clear over the past few years that what he does he couldn’t have done without her. So I think people have no doubt that she is invaluable to him the same way Philip was to the Queen.

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

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

Below, she was the down-to-earth Sussex girl who grew up with a love of horses and fell in love with Charles.

In the 17 years she has been married to the King, the Queen Consort has grown in role and is now a confident royal guest when hosting a reception at Clarence House or a confident representative of the Queen when invited to the stranger.

Camilla is a patron or supporter of a number of literacy charities, speaks out for victims of domestic violence and is an advocate for several animal welfare organisations.

But his most important role is probably to support the king and to be the comforting presence that allows him to fulfill his role as head of state.

Funeral of Queen Elizabeth II
The King and Queen consort in the ceremonial procession after the Queen’s state funeral (Jane Barlow/PA)

Mr Little said of the Queen Consort: ‘I would certainly say she was ready to work for ‘the firm’ for 17 years and make her mark, although slowly but very clearly she proved her worth by as long as the late mother-in-law saw.

“But clearly she’s an extremely capable woman, but nonetheless she’s going to take on this role at a time when her contemporaries will be 10 or 15 years into retirement.”

Charles first met the fun-loving and confident Camilla at the Windsor Great Park polo ground in 1970 when he had just left Cambridge University, a year before joining the Royal Navy.

Legend has it that she was the one who reminded him of a longtime affair between his great-grandmother, Alice Keppel, and King Edward VII.

Andrew Parker Bowles and Camilla - Smith Lawn, Windsor
Andrew and Camilla Parker Bowles with their son Tom (PA)

“My great-grandmother was your great-great-grandfather’s mistress, what do you think? she is supposed to have asked.

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

Camilla then 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 is believed to have resumed.

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

Death of Queen Elizabeth II
Charles and Camilla on their wedding day (Stefan Rosseau/PA)

The following year, Diana said in the BBC documentary Panoroma: “Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded”, a reference to Camilla.

Following Charles and Camilla’s divorce – and Diana’s death in 1997 – Camilla’s eventual emergence as Charles’ long-term partner was part of a carefully planned public relations campaign orchestrated by his physician 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 warned.

The high point of their romance was the wedding and a civil ceremony at Windsor Guildhall on April 9, 2005.

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

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