Queen Camilla’s former daughter-in-law Sara Parker-Bowles—who was married to Tom, Camilla’s son with ex-husband Andrew Parker-Bowles—has revealed that Camilla “was worried” that the British public would hate her again after the death of Queen Elizabeth last September.
Camilla enjoys a fairly positive relationship with the public today but has a rocky history that began in the 1980s and 1990s when she was still married to Andrew and having a well-publicized affair with the then Prince Charles, who at the time was very much still married to Princess Diana. (Charles and Diana, after marrying in 1981, separated in 1992 and divorced in 1996.) After Diana died in a Parisian car accident in 1997, Camilla experienced “hate years,” and was afraid those would resume when she became Queen Consort upon Her late Majesty’s death—and, later, Queen. (Charles and Camilla, after knowing one another and being in love for over 30 years, finally married in 2005.)
The vitriol against the then Camilla Parker-Bowles was never worse than in the years after Diana’s untimely death at just 36 years old. Initially, Camilla was kept hidden away, but finally debuted as Charles’ girlfriend at an engagement in 1999. Per OK, Sara said “Tom was worried it would happen all over again when the Queen died, but it has been the opposite.”
Charles and Camilla have both been largely well-received by Britons in their 10 months on the throne. Sara was married to Tom from 2005 to 2018 and watched as her ex-mother-in-law worked to gain the public’s affection. Camilla has certainly come a long way from, say, 1995, when Diana told the BBC’s Martin Bashir that “there were three of us in this marriage,” alluding to Charles’ longstanding affair with Camilla.
“[Camilla] wasn’t accepted at all,” Sara told The Times. “She didn’t talk about it. She was just very brave and uncomplaining.”
In February 2022, the late Queen announced her wish for Camilla to become Queen Consort upon her death, and “the news hardly made a ripple in the headlines,” OK reports. (Upon their marriage in 2005, it was said that Camilla would only ever be known as Princess Consort, but, after 17 years of work as a senior royal, the Palace changed its tune.) After Queen Elizabeth died that September, Camilla was known as Queen Consort to avoid confusion between her late mother-in-law and herself; but by the time of Charles’ Coronation in May, Camilla, who just turned 76 on Monday, had become known simply as Queen Camilla or the Queen.
Of the Coronation, Sara said that “Camilla was really, really nervous. She wanted the people that she loved around her. [The King] wasn’t nervous at all. But Camilla didn’t ask for any of this,” insinuating that Camilla never wanted to be Queen—but always loved the man who would one day become King.
All told, Camilla has become “the human face of the royal family,” Sara said, and is thankful to be received positively by the public as she approaches one year after Her late Majesty’s passing.
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Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.
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