Camilla Parker Bowles has a long history as a member of the British Royal Family. Her transition into becoming a royal was hardly smooth; she was rather disliked by the general public in the main.
People were enraged when she was revealed to be then-Prince Charles’ mistress – and a great deal of that was down to the love people bore for Princess Diana
As mentioned, Camila’s popularity took a huge blow, though things have changed for the better over the years. Now though, royal expert and author Angela Levin claims that at the time, Camilla was afraid of even leaving her house – and had to endure “torrents” of mistreatment from the public.
King Charles and Camilla’s relationship goes back decades. In fact, their love story can be traced back to 1972, when they first met at a polo match.
In the book Charles and Camilla, Portrait of a Love Affair, author Gyles Brandreth claims that Charles and Camilla were introduced by their mutual friend Lucia Santa Cruz, the daughter of the Chilean ambassador.
The couple dated for a while but stopped when Charles left to serve in the Royal Navy. By the time he returned, Camilla was involved and engaged to Andrew Parker Bowles.
King Charles & Camilla relationship and affair
Bowles and Camilla married in 1973, but Camilla maintained a close and friendly relationship with Charles. Back then, the king had started dating 16-year-old Diana Spencer.
When Diana was introduced to the Bowles couple, Camilla thought the young lady was “sweet and cute” and approved of her. At first, Diana and Camilla got along well. But things soon grew uncomfortable.
“I met [Camilla] very early on. I was introduced to the circle, but I was a threat, I was a very young girl, but I was a threat,” Diana explained in the book Diana: In Her Own Words.
According to Prince Charles’ authorized biography, as quoted by Town & Country, Charles and Camilla’s affair started in 1986. Charles was still married to Princess Diana at that point. She found out about it – and confronted Camilla.
Things for Charles and Diana continued as usual, at least from the public’s perspective. But it wasn’t long before the couple’s fairytale life was over.
In 1992, the couple announced their separation, though both continued with their official royal duties. Four years later, in August of 1996, they reached a final agreement for the divorce.
Infamous Tampongate scandal
By that stage, things had already reached the ears of the public regarding Charles’s relationship with Camilla. And what happened in December 1989 pretty much confirmed that they had actually been having an affair for years.
Just months after Charles and Diana formally separated, the press published a full transcript of a telephone call between the then-future King and Camilla.
The phone call revealed an intimate and sexual exchange between the couple. But, according to The Diana Chronicles, the person who recorded it had kept it for himself for years.
As one can guess, the public reaction wasn’t positive. Firstly, Princess Diana was a national icon and loved by all, and the idea of Charles going behind her back and causing her harm didn’t sit well with anyone.
The scandal involved the future king – just hearing him say things like “live inside her trousers” was wholly unexpected and considered inappropriate. According to Sally Bedel Smith, author of the biography Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern March, a poll was released shortly after the transcript was published.
Sixty-eight percent of the respondents said that then-Prince Charles had destroyed his reputation, and 42 percent even thought that Prince William should become the monarch after Elizabeth.
Charles confronted the Queen over Camilla treatment
But all that happened didn’t only hurt Charles. Camilla also got her fair share of criticism – both from the public and Royal Family members.
The phone call that took place in 1989 more than confirmed that Charles had engaged in an affair with Camilla while still married to Diana. It also proved that Camilla had cheated on her husband, Andrew Parker Bowles.
In the beginning, Camilla was, unsurprisingly, not particularly popular among the public. Neither was she any kind of favorite of Queen Elizabeth’s.
In 2018, investigative author and journalist Tom Bower claimed that, at first, the Queen didn’t want any interaction with Camilla.
At the time of Diana’s passing, there was an ongoing campaign to “introduce” Charles and Camilla’s relationship to the public. However, that was promptly abandoned in the wake of Diana’s deth.
At one point, it all became too much for Charles. As per author and journalist Tom Bower, he confronted his mother at Balmoral Castle. ‘
“He asked that she soften her antagonism so he could live openly with Camilla,” he said. “His hope was that the Queen, who rarely interfered, would at least not directly forbid it.”
The Queen was of a different mind and was said to have lashed out at Charles.
Camilla ‘endured torrents of mistreatment’ from the public
Camilla was having a hard time being accepted by the Queen when she and Charles officially became a couple. However, years before when the affair was revealed, the Queen Consort pretty much disappeared because of the way the public treated her.
In 1994, in an interview with Jonathan Dimbelby, Charles revealed that he had been unfaithful to Diana. The Princess herself had spoken about it by this stage – but it was the first time Charles had confirmed the rumors.
At that point, the identity of Prince Charles’ mistress hadn’t been confirmed. Finally, though, it became clear that it was Camilla when Jonathan Dimbelby released the authorized biography about Charles, published in the Sunday Times later the same month.
“That they loved each other was not in any doubt. In Camilla Parker Bowles, the prince found the warmth, the understanding, and the steadiness for which he had always longed and had never been able to find with any other person,” Dimbelby wrote at the time.
Speaking with OK Magazine, royal expert Angela Levin, author of the 2022 book Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall: A Royal Survivor, Camilla had to endure “torrents” of mistreatment from the public as the affair was revealed. According to Levin, she was pretty much forced to spend most of her time at her home to avoid any backlash from the public.
Moreover, the expert claims Camilla was afraid of going out shopping or visit stores. Instead, she had to send her friends to do her errands.
Charles didn’t realize “how awful it was” for Camilla
“It was very difficult for her, as she was portrayed as the most wicked woman in the world. She was constantly called nasty names like ‘rottweiler,’ and it must have come as a huge shock that people were so vile about her,” Levin said.
It has been reported Charles himself paid for Camilla’s security, hiring two full-time protection officers. When they married in 2005, however, she qualified for publicly funded security, and Charles no longer had to pay them out of his pocket.
Levin went on: “I don’t think Charles realised how awful it was for her. He was often away on engagements and working hard for the country and Commonwealth, and at the time, Camilla didn’t have protection officers because she wasn’t part of the Royal Family. But when Charles finally realised, he did get protection for her, which he paid for himself.”
Camilla became increasingly popular among the public as the years went by. Even so, Angela Levin suspects that she “must still bear the scars of it all.”
“She still gets nervous about things,” Levin said, adding that Camilla “probably be anxious” about Charles’ coronation.
“She can never be sure how people are going to react towards her,” the royal expert and author added. “There’s a small but very harsh group of people who still think she’s the wrong woman for him.”
What’s more, the relationship between Camilla and the Queen certainly got better over the years too.
Camilla might drop “consort” in royal title before coronation
Whether Camilla would become Queen Consort or not was a matter debated for a long time. However, it wasn’t until earlier this year – on the eve of her Platinum Jubilee, marking 70 years on the throne – that the Queen, for the first time, publicly addressed her daughter-in-law’s role in the monarchy.
Her Majesty said her “sincere wish” was that Camilla would be known as Queen Consort when Charles was sworn in as the new king.
“And 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 said.
On May 6, King Charles’ coronation is to be held, and with that also comes the moment when Camilla will be officially named Queen Consort. However, reports suggest that she might drop the “Consort” in her title prior to the coronation.
According to the Express Royal Correspondent and expert Richard Palmer, it’s likely that Camilla’s title will change before the coronation. He said, “no official word from the Palace on that.” However, he suggests that the change is coming.
“Some papers refer to her as the Queen. I think they will drop the Consort at some point. Every Queen Consort has just been known as the Queen,” Richard Palmer said on the Express podcast Royal Round-Up.
Camilla has not only been accepted by the public but has also become one of the most popular Royal Family members around today. Following the Queen’s passing, she was a symbol of strength and courage, and has continued to serve the Crown in a significant way.
“A case of putting some distance between her death and how Camilla is described,” Palmer added. “By the Coronation they will just be calling her the Queen.”