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Queen Camilla: The mistress that rose to the throne

In September 2022, the British royal family confirmed Camilla would be known as Queen Consort when the time came for her to ascend to the throne beside her husband, the King, following the death of Queen Elizabeth.

In April 2023, she took up the role but the Consort was dropped and she officially took the title of Queen beside King Charles III.

She finally went from being an infamous mistress who married the man she was unfaithful with to becoming the Queen of the United Kingdom.

Prior to marrying King Charles, she was previously married and had children with her ex-husband.

This is the life story of Queen Camilla.

She was born Camilla Rosemary Shand in July 1947 in London, England. She is the eldest of three children to her parents and she grew up in a country estate in East Sussex. She was a keen horseman and attended several prestigious schools until the time she ended up working as a receptionist to maintain an active social life.

She and Charles met at a polo match in 1970 before either of them married their respective spouses. She is believed to have told Charles that her great grandmother had been the mistress to his great-great grandfather, and toeing the same line, the two also began dating but with no marriage in mind. The monarchy viewed her as an unsuitable bride because she was not aristocratic.

At the same time, Camilla also showed interest in who would be her first husband, Andrew Parker Bowles, an army officer whom she had previously been dating. Bowles on the other hand was friends with Charles and dated his sister, Princess Anne. As soon as Charles went away on official duty, Camilla and Bowles reunited and ended up marrying in a lavish ceremony in 1973.

They went on to have two children, Tom and Laura. Charles returned and married Lady Diana Spencer in 1981.

Camilla, Bowles and Charles maintained the same circle of friends and in 1986, Camilla and Charles resumed their relationship while she was still married. Charles and Diana went on to separate in 1992 because of this affair and things got worse when a private intimate phone call between Charles and Camilla went public. Charles admitted to the affair in 1994 and in 1995, amid the public uproar, Camilla divorced Bowles. Bowles went on to marry his own mistress, according to Britannica.

In 1996, Charles and Diana divorced and she ended up dying in 1997 following a tragic car accident.

The world grieved for her and her plight as Camilla took on the brunt of being the mistress who upended the monarchy’s reputation.

Throughout the drama, Charles and Camilla weathered the storm together and a campaign was undertaken to rehabilitate her image. In 1998, she made her first public appearance beside him as they attended her sister’s birthday. Their relationship continued and they went on to marry in April 2005 in a civil ceremony unlike the lavish weddings of other royals past. She became the Princess of Wales but said she did not wish to be called Princess. She was then titled Duchess of Cornwall.

Her life as a mistress once again came up when she was named Queen Consort following Queen Elizabeth’s death but this did not phase the monarchy in light of the brutal media coverage. She was crowned queen in the first coronation after 70 years of the late Queen’s rule.

Charles and Camilla are on a four-day visit to Kenya which commenced on October 30, 2023.

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