Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, is slated to become the princess consort — a title that has no legal meaning — after Queen Elizabeth II dies and Prince Charles becomes the king of England, but Charles could change all that and make Camilla his queen.
Elizabeth turns 91 in a few weeks and there’s little doubt her reign, the longest in English history, is drawing to a close.
Charles’ website states Camilla will be known as her royal highness the princess consort when Charles accedes to the throne, but there are indications Charles has reconsidered and wants to upgrade Camilla’s title to queen consort.
“They have it all worked out,” a source close to a number of senior royals told the Daily Beast. “When Charles goes before the Accession Council he will tell them his choice of regal name, and then he will authoritatively make it clear that his wife is to be known as Queen Camilla.”
Camilla has been a controversial figure since it was first revealed she and Charles were having an affair while he still was married to Princess Diana and she to Andrew Parker Bowles. She married Charles in 2005, and the union eventually earned the blessing of the Anglican church.
But there was a time it was unacceptable for an English king to be married to a divorcee (think King Edward and Wallis Simpson and the abdication that made Elizabeth’s father king), let alone have that divorcee made a queen.
Public acceptance of Camilla as queen is far from guaranteed given the continuing adoration of Charles’ first wife, Diana Spencer, who was killed in a car wreck in Paris in 1997.
Charles is pushing for Camilla to be named queen.
“The endeavor to turn Camilla into a beloved national figure when once people pelted her with bread rolls in a Sainsbury’s car park has in fact been brilliantly managed,” the Spectator observed last month. “She’s been insinuated gradually into national life.”
A ComRes poll conducted for the Daily Mail in 2015 indicated 55 percent of Britons did not think Camilla should be made queen. Just a third of the population said they like Camilla. In fact, the poll indicated only 43 percent thought Charles should become king.
The Daily Beast quotes a source as saying Camilla still is disrespected in court circles.
“There are many women at court who simply will not curtsey to Camilla,” the source said.
“Charles will push for this [Camilla to become queen]. He is so fiercely proud of her and I think would see anything less than the title of queen as being a slight. And he has never been good at taking advice from people that disagree with him,” royal biographer Penny Junor told the Daily Beast.
“But she has no desire to be queen. She got into this position because she loved him and wanted to support him in his otherwise lonely role; she didn’t marry him because she wanted to be a duchess or a princess or even a queen.
“But it is a very difficult subject because there will always be people who say that to make her Queen would be to reward adultery.”
Camilla and Charles formally met in 1971 and became close friends, meeting regularly at polo matches, but the relationship came to an end after Charles joined the Royal Navy and was shipped overseas in 1973. Royal biographers say it’s unlikely they would have been allowed to marry back then because palace courtiers didn’t think Camilla would be a suitable future queen.
Revelation of the affair between Camilla and Charles rocked England when in 1993 transcripts of secretly recorded conversations were published by the tabloids.
The following year, Charles admitted he and Camilla began their affair in 1986 after, he said, his marriage to Diana had “irretrievably broken down.” Camilla divorced Parker Bowles, who reportedly knew of the affair and approved so he could see other women, in 1987.
This time, Charles didn’t let press vilification or opposition by the royal court interfere in his relationship, but the couple didn’t make a joint public appearance until 1999. After that, Camilla began accompanying Charles to official engagements and her rehabilitation began. By 2002, during the queen’s Golden Jubilee, Camilla was invited to sit in the royal box for one of the concerts at Buckingham Palace. She moved in with Charles at Clarence House in 2003.
Last year, Camilla was made a member of the Privy Council, which advises the queen, the first princess by marriage to hold the position.