When Prince Charles first met his future wife in 1971, the world knew her as Camilla Rosemary Shand. Rumor goes they crossed paths at a polo match, but both traveled in the same social circle for years. The couple soon started dating, but split before she married British Army officer, Andrew Parker Bowles.
“I suppose the feeling of emptiness will pass eventually,” Charles wrote after the ceremony. Little did he know that his former love would eventually become his second wife, and consequently, a future queen.
Advertisement – Continue Reading Below
After Diana’s death, the “third person” in the royal marriage waited two years to appear in public with the Prince of Wales. The moment signaled that their relationship wasn’t just an affair, but here to stay. In 2005, the future monarch and Camilla Parker Bowles announced their engagement and said vows the same year.
The former divorcee would use the title Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall, but the marriage also legally made her Princess of Wales as well. Camilla chose to use the feminine form of her husband’s alternative title because the public still thought of Diana in that primary role. In Scotland, she would also become Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Rothesay.
Charles and Camilla’s wedding portrait.
On the day of the ceremony, Clarence House revealed Camilla would use the style of Princess Consort instead of the traditional Queen Consort when her husband ascended the throne. No one had used such a title before, but the decision seemingly stemmed criticism over the unpopular marriage.
“Most of the constitutional experts agree that by common law and tradition she is entitled to be Queen,” author Sally Bedell Smith told People. “It was obviously fudged when they got married. Diana was so uppermost in many people’s mind, so they concocted the notion of a Princess Consort, which is made up.”
Over a decade later, royal insiders are now saying the status quo has changed. The Duchess of Cornwall has worked tirelessly to improve her public image, and her husband wants a queen — not a princess — by his side after his coronation.
Bedell Smith, who wrote Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbably Life, believes Charles dislikes the idea of “Princess Consort, and he has final say.” Traditionally, wives of sovereign kings take the role of Queen Consort, while husbands of ruling queens (like Prince Philip) do not change their titles.
Prince Charles may also change his name when he inherits the throne. Rumor goes he’ll use George VII as his regnal name instead of Charles III to honor his maternal grandfather. Either way, with so many titles to keep track of, the headlines will still use Charles and Camilla, no matter what the palace says.
Follow Redbook on Facebook.