Christopher Wilson is the author of The Windsor Knot: Charles, Camilla and the Legacy of Diana, and a former columnist for The Times and The Sunday Telegraph




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In my role as Camilla Parker Bowles’s biographer I travel the country, lecturing and talking to people on the subject of her long and chequered love affair with Prince Charles. Before I begin, I ask my audience two questions: Do they approve of Camilla? And could they accept her as Queen?

Rarely do reactions vary. Camilla can always expect to score a 50/50 personal approval rating. But when it comes to the question of her becoming Queen, the response is angry and forthright – no, they do not want her, and 95 per cent of them say so.

But their reaction is uniform in its repudiation of the idea of a Queen Camilla.

And in the countdown to the royal wedding on 8 April, that can only bode ill for the future Duchess of Cornwall and her princely husband.

The recent confession by a government minister that nothing can stop Camilla becoming Queen, short of a change in the law, is a slap in the face to public opinion. Clarence House, all too aware of Camilla's lingering unpopularity, seeks to play down the news, arguing that the present plan remains unchanged – that she will become Princess Consort when Charles becomes King.

But the fact that courtiers refuse to rule out a change in plan some time in the future only serves to underline the certainty in most people’s minds that Prince Charles’s secret agenda is to have Camilla as his Queen. If that is so, the Prince seriously underestimates the scale and ferocity of the opposition ahead. I have seen it – and, I might add, it is awesome.

Those who know the Prince now worry that he is gambling a hardearned reputation away on a personal whim. Since graduating from Cambridge University over 30 years ago, he has worked hard and successfully at establishing a reputation as a non-political champion of the common man.

The Prince’s Trust and the Prince’s Youth Business Trust, just two of the many charities he espouses, have raised millions of pounds and given hope, money and practical assistance to many young people. Those who say they would rather have Prince William as the next sovereign ignore the many years of hard graft Charles has put in: he has, on a professional level, proved himself more than worthy of kingship.

On a personal level, however, the story is different. The Diana-Charles- Camilla triangle has unquestionably dented his reputation and caused the focus to shift away from good works and towards gossip, rumour and innuendo. Even Charles’s closest allies say he could – should – have done something to stop the rot long ago.

But Camilla is a fact. And, as it happens, not a bad one at that. Behind every successful man there is a strong woman, and since Charles’s divorce she has certainly been that. It’s now obvious to all but the most hidebound Diana devotee that Camilla is good for him, supports him, does not wish to compete with or upstage him. Her role in his life is as a prop, not an adversary.

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