It has been 20 years since Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, went public about his relationship with Camilla Parker-Bowles. It has been a turbulent two decades for the royal couple. But, as the Daily Mail is reporting today, Camilla has, slowly but surely, succeeded in winning over the British people.
Twenty years ago, the British public was still reeling from the death of Charles’ former wife, Princess Diana. She had been embraced has “the people’s princess” and there was still much mourning at her untimely passing. There still is, of course, but with time people have come to accept Camilla’s place in Charles’ life and the British royal family rather than blaming her for Diana’s death.
Twenty years ago, things were very different. Charles’ affair with Camilla was seen by many as the catalyst for Diana’s death. The queen reportedly refused to be in the same room as Camilla as she held her responsible for the affair. She also reportedly advised Charles against going public with their relationship.
Charles, for once, didn’t take her advice. Twenty years ago, the couple emerged together from the Ritz Hotel in London to a blaze of photographer flashes. It was a staged PR moment and it didn’t go entirely to plan. One less than complimentary story the following day led with the headline, “Meet The Mistress!”
For the first decade after that day, Camilla’s popularity with the British public remained low even though many began to accept that she was now a permanent fixture in his life. According to the Mail, this was, in part, down to a rather cynical strategy of trying to smear other senior royals in an attempt to make Camilla appear more favorable in comparison.
This strategy was quickly dropped. “Instead of manipulating Camilla and her image, they allowed her to grow organically,” says writer Christopher Wilson.
It was hard for Camilla to go and meet people she felt didn’t like her. But the more people actually did meet her, the more she grew on them and slowly the public perception began to shift.
Today, she is one of the most active full-time members of the royal family. She had 219 solo public engagements in 2018, more than both Prince Harry and Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge. She also attended a great many of the 507 engagements her now-husband Prince Charles carried out.
She is now warmly welcomed wherever she goes and has a growing number of patronages under her name, too.
There is only one big question that remains about Camilla’s role in the royal family and British public life. When Charles does eventually become king, will she take the title of Queen Camilla?