King Charles III is proclaimed monarch of the UK

Camilla visited Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 2017. (Chris Jackson/Pool/Getty Images)

With her husband’s ascension to the throne following the death of Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday, Camilla has become Queen Consort and will take on a new and more prominent role alongside King Charles III.

Just over 25 years after the death of Charles’ first wife, Diana, Princess of Wales, Camilla remains a divisive figure in Britain.

Here’s what you should know:

Born Camilla Shand in July 1947, she met Prince Charles at a polo match in Windsor in 1970 and they became friends.

The following year, Charles joined the Royal Navy and, while he was away, Camilla married cavalry officer Andrew Parker Bowles. The couple had two children in the 1970s.

Charles married Lady Diana Spencer in 1981, but he admitted in 1994 that he had an extramarital affair with Camilla.
Camilla separated from Andrew Parker Bowles in 1995. Charles and Diana divorced the following year and Camilla all but disappeared from public life as public and media support rallied behind the princess. The pro-Diana, anti-Camilla sentiment was compounded by an outpouring of sympathy for Diana after she was killed in a high-speed car crash in Paris in 1997.

In 1999, Clarence House began a program to reintroduce Camilla to the public with a carefully arranged first appearance with Charles outside the Ritz Hotel in London. She moved to Clarence House to be with Charles and her name began to appear on official papers.

Their story reached its climax in 2005, when they married in Windsor, with the Queen’s consent. Camilla, now known as Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall, has been confirmed as Charles’ official wife and future queen of the United Kingdom.

Charles and Camilla after their wedding ceremony in 2005.
Charles and Camilla after their wedding ceremony in 2005. (Hugo Burnand/Pool/Getty Images)

The duchess has thrown herself into life as a senior royal, supporting Charles on official engagements in the UK and on overseas tours, despite his intense fear of flying. She quickly became an asset to the British royal family and government with her common sense and ability to defuse the tension in a room.

As soon as her husband became king, Camilla automatically became queen. However, long thought she would never use the title, Clarence House released a statement in 2005 saying she would instead be known as “Princess Consort.” Some in the palace at the time felt that the public was not ready for Camilla to take a title reserved for Diana.

But over the years, attitudes towards Camilla have softened. In 2015, a CNN poll found that one in four Britons liked her as more and more people opposed her becoming queen.

Then, in February 2022, the Queen used the landmark milestone of her Platinum Jubilee to give her blessing for the Duchess of Cornwall to be known as queen in due course. This is a hugely significant intervention from the monarch, the only person who can define royal titles.

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