Although once vilified for her perceived part in the breakdown of Prince Charles' marriage to the late Princess Diana, Camilla has become a central figure in the Royal family since officially joining in 2005 and has won over her critics, earning her national treasure status.
The Queen’s unexpected endorsement of Camilla in February, making her Queen Consort once Charles ascends to the throne marked a stark contrast to the long-held pledge for her to remain a princess out of respect for the memory of Diana.
And in more recent times, the public has seen Camilla happily taking part in a string of solo engagements.
It’s even been reported that she will appear in a special edition of Vogue magazine this summer to mark her 75th birthday.
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Charles’ former royal butler, Grant Harrold, exclusively tells OK! that despite some having their doubts in the beginning, her genuine love for Prince Charles shines through.
“The nation has now had enough time to warm to Camilla,” he says.
“The honeymoon period of her marriage to Charles was understandably dominated by the royal households, as well as the British public’s enduring love for Diana. There was resentment for her everywhere she looked.
“But after having been married to Charles for almost two decades, it’s clear to see that she makes the Prince exceedingly happy – and I think this is what is key to winning the hearts of the public.”
Grant, who has worked closely with Camilla over the years, continues, “Evidence of her acceptance comes from the lack of protests following Her Majesty’s announcement that Camilla will be Queen Consort alongside Charles.
If this news had been released when the two first got married, I believe public reaction would have been significantly different.
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“She’s been accepted as his wife, and as a stepmother by Princes William and Harry. Whether or not this acceptance will continue when she eventually inherits the title, only time will tell, but it is looking positive for Camilla.”
Charles and Camilla were first romantically connected back in 1970. The years that followed, however, saw Camilla marry British Army Officer Andrew Parker Bowles before they welcomed children Tom and Laura. Meanwhile, Charles had moved on with Diana.
By the 1990s, Camilla was largely blamed for Charles and Diana’s split, with the Princess of Wales famously referring to her as the “third person in the marriage”, leading the public to, at one point, deem her the most hated woman in Britain. Diana’s tragic death in 1997 caused her popularity to dip further.
But Grant explains how, after many hurdles, Camilla’s growing appeal has happened naturally over time. “What makes Camilla so different from any other royal however, is that she has never gone out of her way to attempt to change the public’s perception of her. She never tried to make people like her or to explain herself when it came to Diana,” he says.
“Having been close to her, I know of the caring, fun and lovable person that the Duchess is – if you go round to her house, she’ll put the kettle on and make you a cup of tea – but she never felt the need to prove that to the public. She’s only ever been herself, so the public finally warming to the real her is something very special.”
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