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