Camilla is to be given the Queen Mother's priceless 1937 crown containing the Koh-i-Noor diamond

7 months ago

Prince Charles changed his coronation vows several years ago to include ‘Queen Camilla’ – with his mother’s blessing, the Daily Mail can reveal.

The insertion of his wife’s title was included as part of a general reworking of plans for the Westminster Abbey ceremony up to five years ago, a senior palace source said.

On Saturday, the Queen announced that the Duchess of Cornwall will become Queen Consort when her husband accedes to the throne.

It can also be revealed that Camilla will have the Queen Mother’s priceless platinum and diamond crown placed on her head when Charles is made king. It was created for King George VI’s coronation in 1937.

Yesterday the Prince of Wales made clear his gratitude to the Queen for her support, saying that he and Camilla – who he described as his ‘darling wife’ – were ‘deeply conscious of the honour represented’ by his mother’s wish.

He marked the Queen’s historic Accession Day, heralding the start of her Platinum Jubilee year, by saying her ‘devotion to the welfare of all her people inspires still greater admiration with each passing year’.

Buckingham Palace issued a glorious new photograph of the 95-year-old monarch – sitting in an armchair at Sandringham with her ever-present red despatch box of official papers – to mark her historic 70 years on the throne.

Her father, King George VI, died at the Norfolk residence on February 6, 1952, at the age of 56, leaving his elder daughter as Queen at the age of just 25.

In a highly significant announcement at the weekend, Her Majesty used her unprecedented milestone anniversary to express her desire for her daughter-in-law to be fully acknowledged when Charles succeeds her.

She wrote: ‘When, in the fullness of time, my son Charles becomes king, I know you will give him and his wife Camilla the same support that you have given me, and it is my sincere wish that, when the time comes, Camilla will be known as Queen Consort as she continues her own loyal service.’

Prince Charles changed his coronation vows several years ago to include ‘Queen Camilla’ with his mother’s blessing (pictured: The Queen and Camilla in 2019)

Charles and Camilla smile as they visit local shops and businesses during a short walk through Ballater, Scotland, in August last year

Queen Elizabeth II and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall pictured together during a visit to Ebony Horse Club & Community Riding Centre in London in 2013

Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, pictured as she leaves the State Opening of Parliament in 2013. The Queen has used her Platinum Jubilee message to the nation to back the Duchess of Cornwall as Queen Camilla

Charles and Camilla stand together during the official ceremonial welcome for the Chinese State Visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan to London in 2015

Charles and Camilla pictured leaving St George's Chapel, Windsor, following the blessing of their wedding in 2005

Poignant history of the crown she’ll wear 

THE Duchess of Cornwall will wear a crown made for the Queen Mother when Prince Charles becomes king.

It boasts a platinum frame set with 2,800 diamonds, many of which came from Queen Victoria’s Regal Circlet, and contains the Koh-i-Noor (meaning Mountain of Light) diamond, one of the world’s largest and most controversial jewels.

Queen Elizabeth, as she was then, wore the crown to the coronation of her husband George VI in 1937. It now forms part of the Crown Jewels on display at the Tower of London.

The 105.6-carat Koh-i-Noor diamond came into British hands in the mid-19th century as a gift for Victoria. However, many in India believe it was stolen and have demanded it is handed back.

The crown contains a second large diamond, given in 1856 to Victoria by Sultan Abdulmedjid, ruler of the Ottoman Empire, as a gesture of gratitude for British support during the Crimean War.

Made by royal jewellers Garrard & Co, Queen Elizabeth wore the crown but without its arches to the state openings of Parliament during her husband’s reign, and at the coronation of her daughter Elizabeth II in 1953.

The Mail can reveal today that plans to ‘crown’ Camilla as Queen Consort – as opposed to ‘Princess Consort’, as originally planned – have been under way for some time, and Charles came close to announcing it in 2019.

A royal source said: ‘This is something that has been on the Prince of Wales’ mind for some time, but the timing had to be right. There was a nervousness, they wanted to get it right.

‘It’s been a done deal for some time, but the question has been how best to execute it. You are not going to please everyone.

‘They understand that some people still won’t be happy, but the family believe it is the right thing to do.’

The change was made clear when Clarence House and palace officials embarked on an overhaul of the plans for Charles’s coronation several years ago.

Key national events are regularly the subject of planning reviews and, as the previous coronation took place in 1953, officials wanted to make the ceremony more streamlined and up-to-date.

It is understood to have been shortened from the Queen’s three-hour long event and, while still ‘spectacular’, is designed to ‘better reflect the times’, with more religious, cultural and ethnic diversity.

‘It also included the duchess crowned Queen Consort,’ a household insider said. Any changes would have taken place with the Queen’s blessing and the knowledge of Buckingham Palace.

The Queen Mother’s crown features 2,800 diamonds with a large stone given to Queen Victoria in 1856 by the Sultan of Turkey as a gesture of gratitude for British support during the Crimean War. The front cross holds the famous 105-carat Koh-i-Noor diamond, which originated in India, in a detachable platinum mount.

Charles yesterday made clear his gratitude to his mother for her support, issuing a statement which said: ‘On this historic day, my wife and I join you all in congratulating Her Majesty The Queen on the remarkable achievement of serving this nation, the realms and Commonwealth for seventy years.

‘The Queen’s devotion to the welfare of all her people inspires still greater admiration with each passing year. We are deeply conscious of the honour represented by my mother’s wish.

‘As we have sought together to serve and support Her Majesty and the people of our communities, my darling wife has been my own steadfast support throughout. The year of this unprecedented Platinum Jubilee brings an opportunity for us all to come together in celebrating the service of the Queen, by whose example we will continue to be led in the years to come.’ 

Charles and Camilla pictured together at the Great Pyramids of Giza on the third day of their tour of the Middle East in November last year 

The couple pose together in front of the Sphinx, on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt, on November 18 last year

A statement issued by Clarence House on Sunday as Charles paid tribute to his mother's 'devotion to the welfare of all her people'

One senior royal source told the Mail yesterday that the Queen felt Camilla ‘deserved’ to get the proper title that ‘comes with the job’.

They said: ‘She’s never once tried to overshadow her husband, she’s always played a supportive role to the Prince of Wales. He is her top priority.

‘But she has also carved a role out for herself, has travelled hundreds of thousands of miles on thousands of engagements, taken on some really powerful causes such as violence against women, but is still cheerfully willing to go to the back-end of beyond to cut ribbons and shake hands. She is warm, friendly and hasn’t put a foot wrong.

‘The transition to a new monarch after such a remarkable head of state, whose sense of humility and duty is an example to us all, is going to be so monumental that you don’t want any “own goals” in the middle of it all. 

'The Queen has always led by example and she continues to do so now. No-one should be under any illusion that this was something Camilla wanted or sought.

‘She’ll be doing it because it’s what the prince wants, and it’s good for the institution in the long run.’

Tributes were paid to the Queen’s 70 years of duty by political leaders in the UK and abroad yesterday, with Boris Johnson acknowledging her ‘unwavering dedication to this nation’. 

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer praised her ‘unparalleled public service’ and for being a ‘global symbol of grace and dignity’.

A tweet from the US White House’s official account praised the monarch for having ‘strengthened the ties of friendship, shared ideals, and faith in democracy that forever unite our countries’. 

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau hailed the Queen for ‘offering steadfast leadership in times of change, hardship, or uncertainty’. 

Some 1.3 million coins are being made available on ‘limited release’ at UK post offices. A maximum mintage has been fixed at 5,000,070 coins in a further nod to the Queen’s 70 years on the throne.

Post offices in Windsor and close to Sandringham were among the first branches to receive the coin.

Postmaster Umesh Sanghani, who has run Dedworth Green Post Office in Windsor with wife Rashmita for 23 years, said: ‘We have had many customers coming in to check that we are going to get the special coin.

‘They don’t want to miss out on this souvenir. I am a royalist. It is amazing the Queen has reached her 70th anniversary. I am really looking forward to the celebrations.’    

Charles's Queen Mehbooba: That's Urdu for 'my beloved' and his pet name for Camilla... REBECCA ENGLISH's inside story of why the prince could never allow the duchess to be a second class citizen - and how the Queen finally moved to heal a 20-year issue

Rebecca English, Royal Editor for The Daily Mail 

A few weeks after I started working as the Daily Mail’s royal correspondent, I was invited to tea with a senior courtier.

As he stoked a roaring log fire, he told me with unexpected candour: ‘The Prince of Wales is a man who has made mistakes. But he is also a very good man, who has devoted his life to do the best for his country.

‘Should he really be flagellated for the errors he has made in his personal life for the rest of his days?’

The answer, according to the Queen at least, is clearly no.

Her masterful statement on Saturday night expressing her ‘sincere wish’ for Camilla to be Queen one day cleverly dovetailed her own lifetime of service to the nation with the unwavering support she received from her late husband, as her father had from her mother.

Camilla Duchess of Cornwall with Rebecca English - Daily Mail Royal Reporter 

It was a move long in the planning, I can reveal, but only recent in execution: Her statement was finalised personally at Sandringham on Friday.

In contrast to Harry and Meghan’s departure from Britain and royal duties, there was no great family summit on the issue.

The ‘deal’ on the Duchess of Cornwall’s future title of Queen Consort – if indeed it can be called that – was done by the Queen and her private secretary, Sir Edward Young, along with Charles and his right-hand man, Clive Alderton. Not even Camilla herself was involved.

The prince, I am told, spoke to both his sons personally.

But, again, there was no debate on the issue. It was a fait accompli – the Queen had spoken, once and for all.

And there is certainly no sense of jubilation at Clarence House, the Prince of Wales’s household.

This was never about that. From the dozen or so people I have spoken to, all of whom have been involved in discussions on the subject at one point or another over the last 20 years, there is simply a quiet sense of finally tying up ends.

The issue of whether Camilla would become Queen was a running sore for the Royal Family from day one because of Diana’s legacy.

It is why, when her engagement to Charles was announced in 2005, the prince’s then-private secretary, Sir Michael Peat, made a point of stating she would not take on the title of Princess of Wales, even though she was perfectly entitled to do so.

Furthermore, he said, she would become known as Princess Consort when Charles acceded to the throne.

One source who was intimately involved in events at the time says now: ‘I know there are some who will say it was all a lie and there was some grand master plan to make the duchess Queen Consort all along.

‘But frankly everyone was so relieved to have got through the wedding without any public demonstrations or eggs being thrown that people were very happy to park the issue to one side and just see what happened.’

A few years after the couple’s marriage at Windsor Guildhall in April 2005, the words ‘intends to be known as’ were inserted into the Princess Consort phraseology in any pronouncement on the subject. And then in 2018 the issue was erased in its entirety from the Clarence House website, with officials (rather inexplicably) saying ‘people weren’t interested in it as an issue any more’.

Change was definitely coming.

On a visit to a Wiltshire children’s centre 11 years ago, Camilla was asked by an eight-year-old girl if she would be Queen. ‘You never know,’ she quickly replied.

And in 2010, when the prince was put on the spot by an interviewer and asked if his wife would rule by his side, Charles said: ‘We’ll see, won’t we? That could be.’

It’s worth making clear that, according to every single one of my sources, the title of Queen Consort is not an honour the Duchess of Cornwall has ever pressed for, or even proffered an opinion on.

One long-term staffer says: ‘I can honestly say, hand on heart, in all the years I have known her she has never once raised this as an issue or asked, “How can we create the environment in which this can happen?”

‘If anyone raised it in her presence, because there had been a poll they thought she should be aware of, she was utterly sphinx-like. Inscrutable.

‘At a push she might raise an eyebrow and nod her head in acknowledgement. But you would never know what she thought about it. Never.’

Another agrees, adding: ‘I never discussed it with her once in all the time I worked for her. And I never heard it being discussed. It was “parked” as an issue until nearer the time [of Charles’s accession].

‘The duchess has always approached her job as “to do what is asked of you, when you are asked to do it”. You don’t try to shape the role to your advantage.

‘It’s about duty and service. That’s how the prince looks at things and how she does too.

‘She follows the Duke of Edinburgh’s approach to the role, which is to be unselfish and supportive. This was always an issue for others to decide.’ But if it wasn’t an issue for Camilla, there is no doubt that it was for Charles. 

The title of Queen Consort is not an honour the Duchess of Cornwall has ever pressed for, or even proffered an opinion on.

Camilla's journey from royal mistress to Queen Consort

The Duchess of Cornwall is the former royal mistress who will now stand shoulder to shoulder as Queen with the Prince of Wales when he becomes King.

Camilla's public image has been transformed after she was initially cast as the 'third' person in the Prince and Diana, Princess of Wales' marriage, before becoming a campaigning member of the monarchy prepared to serve the nation.

Underneath, she was the down-to-earth Sussex girl who grew up with a love of horses and happened to fall in love with a prince.

Prince Charles and Camilla on their wedding day in 2005

During the 17 years she has been married to Charles, the duchess has grown into her role and is now an assured royal host when staging events at Clarence House and a confident representative of the Queen when invited to foreign lands.

She is patron or supporter of a number of literacy charities, speaks out in support of victims of domestic violence and champions several animal welfare organisations.

But her most significant role is supporting the prince and being the comforting presence at home that enables him to take on the role of heir to the throne.

After Charles and Camilla both divorced - and Diana died in 1997 - the duchess' emergence as the prince's long-term partner was part of a carefully planned PR campaign masterminded by the heir to the throne's spin doctor Mark Bolland.

Their first public appearance together was outside the Ritz hotel in London in 1999, dubbed Operation Ritz, where the mass of waiting photographers had been tipped off.

The culmination of the romance was a marriage between the long-time lovers who wed in a civil ceremony at Windsor Guildhall on April 9, 2005.

With Camilla by his side, Charles appears more relaxed and many times during royal events she has cajoled and encouraged him to try something new or have some fun.

Now the Queen's wishes have bestowed upon Camilla the ultimate accolade in recognition of her importance to Charles and the monarchy. 

‘For the prince, it is less about the role itself and more about respect,’ one source close to the prince tells me. ‘He feels she deserves to be treated as any other second wife. What other woman isn’t allowed to be called “Mrs X” and have the same rights and privileges as a first wife?

‘The truth is, to deny her of it would be punitive. And if you feel like that about the future Queen Consort, then what does it say about every other woman in the country? It feels out of the step with the time.’ Another friend of the prince adds: ‘He loves his wife, he adores her. He calls her his “mehbooba” – “my beloved” [in Urdu]. How could he be a true husband and endorse a situation when she was asked to be a second-class citizen?’ I am told by several impeccably placed sources that around 2017-2018, Charles and his team had made up their minds that Camilla should become Queen Consort.

‘It was absolutely a done deal as far as Clarence House were concerned,’ said one. Indeed, in 2019 they were on the verge of actually announcing it to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Charles becoming Prince of Wales.

But at the last minute they ‘bottled it’, feeling the occasion wasn’t entirely right as it was more about him than the Queen. ‘People were still nervous of how it would be received without her endorsement,’ they said.

So what has now changed? ‘There is no doubt over the past few months the Queen has not been shy of talking about the future,’ explains one senior courtier.

Most poignantly, the monarch, who will celebrate her 96th birthday in April, told the Cop26 summit in Glasgow last year of how ‘none of us will live for ever’ and how proud she was of her family.

And her Christmas address was littered with references to traditions being passed down the generations and how it is a source of comfort to her.

‘While most people don’t want to think of the Queen’s passing, she does,’ says one senior royal aide. ‘And she feels it is time to tie up the loose ends.

‘We have never had a Platinum Jubilee before and the Queen sees it as an opportunity to pass her wisdom on – “I’ve done this job for 70 years, I know the importance of the role my husband played in it. I saw it in my father and mother”. She honestly believes that [Camilla] deserves the title.

‘This is the Queen looking forward and addressing an issue that she thinks really needs to be addressed. Nobody puts words in the Queen’s mouth.

‘And she believes that you can’t do this sort of role without support, which requires sacrifice. It’s a partnership and the title should go with it.’ Last month, the Queen made Camilla a Royal Lady of the Order of the Garter, the highest order of chivalry in England, in the New Year Honours. The writing was on the wall.

And after discussing the matter with Charles and her advisers again, she decided to use her Accession Day address to make her ‘sincere wish’ clear.

Other members of the Royal Family – including Diana’s sons – were told of her decision in advance. William is sanguine. It’s a decision above his head and he loves his father and wants him to be happy. Harry’s response can only be guessed at – maybe we will read about it in his book later this year?

‘The Queen wants to protect her legacy, she wants a smooth transition of power and it makes sense from her perspective,’ another insider adds.

‘There will, of course, be the steadfast Diana camp who will never ever accept it.

Other members of the Royal Family – including Diana’s sons – were told of the Queen's decision in advance

‘But I think they are in the minority now. And, crucially, the whole family supports this.

‘Just because they said something different at the time they got married, doesn’t make that a lie. There was no master plan to crown Queen Camilla.

‘This has come about because of 17 years of loyal and faultless service by the duchess, thousands of engagements and hundreds of overseas visits.

‘She’s been a fantastic consort to the Prince of Wales, who has never tried to overshadow him and has embraced everything that has been thrown at her.

‘She’s also gone on to campaign about some really brave issues of her own, such as domestic abuse and violence against women. She’s not played it safe.’

Another, who has known all of those involved for almost two decades, adds: ‘We are very, very lucky in our Royal Family to have some fantastically strong and dedicated women. And Camilla is now firmly one of those.

‘As far as the Queen is concerned, this is the last piece of the jigsaw. It is time. Camilla has earned her place by Charles’s side.’ 

Princess Diana called her the 'third person' in her marriage - but the woman once seen as the problem is now the solution by making herself indispensable to Prince Charles and transforming him into a more relaxed kind of prince, writes RICHARD KAY

The journey that has taken the former Mrs Camilla Parker Bowles from mistress to Queen-in-waiting has been long, bumpy and exhausting.

On the way, she has been vilified to a degree that would have sent many women into the bleakest spiral of depression.

At times, her very presence in Prince Charles’s life was said to have imperilled the existence of the throne. Now she is endorsed as its saviour for her calming influence that will allow her husband to become the King he wants to be.

Never has that old saying that time changes everything been more appropriate.

'Indeed, so smooth has been Camilla’s transition from ‘wicked woman’ to the gracious Duchess of Cornwall that, for many, the role she will occupy as the wife of the future King Charles had ceased to have much meaning', writes RICHARD KAY. Pictured: Prince Charles and Camilla in 1975

Princess Diana (left) and Camilla (right) at Ludlow Races where Prince Charles was competing in 1980

Some 23 years ago, just 12 months after the crash in Paris in which Princess Diana was killed, Charles went to see the Queen.

He was looking for his mother’s approval and support for his relationship with Mrs Parker Bowles, which ever since his ex-wife’s death had continued to be conducted in the shadows.

It was not a happy meeting. The Queen told her son she did not want to talk about ‘that wicked woman’. Those were the days, of course, when memories of Diana, accompanied by considerable public anger at the way she was perceived to have been treated, were still fresh in the nation’s mind.

Today, the woman memorably described by the princess as the ‘third person’ in her marriage, has not merely been accepted into the Royal Family, she has turned into its most central female figure after the Queen herself, a trusted and reassuring lynchpin between the young and the old.

Her support for the Queen as she coped with the death of Prince Philip and the isolation of the Covid pandemic has been vital. But then so too has been the way she has helped Prince William’s wife Kate, who has struggled at times with the increased scrutiny that has come with the self-imposed exile of Prince Harry and his family.

At the same time, the nervousness that used to characterise her own public engagements has long since vanished, replaced by an easy warmth that has shifted many of the prejudices that had been held against her.

Indeed, so smooth has been Camilla’s transition from ‘wicked woman’ to the gracious Duchess of Cornwall that, for many, the role she will occupy as the wife of the future King Charles had ceased to have much meaning.

For several years polls have suggested that most British people would not object if, rather than the title Princess Consort aides said she would use when the Prince of Wales becomes monarch, she is crowned Queen Consort.

But even so, Palace officials remained nervous about changing a policy that had been formulated at the time of the couple’s engagement in 2005. In part, this was to ensure she did not take the title that would automatically have been Diana’s had she lived and the couple remained married.

Charles, however, was confident that the British tradition of forgiveness and fair play would ultimately allow his wife to be anointed Queen at his side.

Increasingly so too were courtiers. Camilla’s New Year elevation to the Order of the Garter was not just a reward for the loyalty and discretion she has shown since her marriage, but also a clear sign that attitudes were softening.

The Queen’s weekend intervention declaring that it is her ‘sincere wish’ for her daughter-in-law to be fully acknowledged when Charles succeeds to the throne is a game-changer. By making it such a personal announcement almost certainly means there will be far fewer critical voices.

It also demonstrates the Queen’s long-held view that the role of monarch is a two-person job.

Throughout her reign she lavished praise on Philip for his unquestioning support. Knowing both the demands of the position and the character of her son, she has long felt Charles would be better served with a consort who can share the responsibilities just as Philip did.

Indeed, she feared that Charles might even fail as King unless Camilla was allowed to be his ‘strength and stay’ just as she famously proclaimed Prince Philip had been to her.

The Queen has been photographed working from her red boxes in an image released on the day she passes the historic milestone of 70 years on the throne. The smiling 95-year-old monarch is pictured with her papers of state on a table in front of her and poignantly nearby is an image of her father King George VI

All the same, making the decision at a time of political instability was a bold one and has also revealed the paradox of Camilla herself. The woman once seen as ‘the problem’ for the monarchy is now seen as ‘the solution’. 

When the Queen first learned her son was sleeping with the wife of a brother officer in the Brigade of Guards, she regarded Camilla as an adulteress who had led her bachelor son astray. Instructions were issued that Mrs Parker Bowles was never to be on the guest list for any formal event at which the Queen was to be present.

Fast forward to 2005 and the words the Queen spoke at Charles and Camilla’s Windsor Castle wedding reception: ‘My son is home and dry with the woman he loves,’ she said, adding: ‘Welcome to the winners’ enclosure.’ Her pragmatic private view had become: ‘Since Camilla isn’t going anywhere she may as well be welcomed.’

As for the special nugget of Welsh gold kept for royal wedding rings, the Queen is said to have drily observed: ‘There is very little of it left – there won’t be enough for a third wedding.’

Camilla will doubtless adjust to the new realities of her life just as she has to every other change since first dallying with the Prince of Wales – when both were unmarried – in the 1970s, with a rueful smile and that distinctive earthy chuckle.Her story is not one of ambition but it is one of determination. 

Friends believe her success has been based on making herself indispensable to those to whom she wishes to be close. When Charles failed to propose to her in 1973, the then Camilla Shand agreed to marry the dashing Andrew Parker Bowles, a well-connected young officer in the glamorous Blues and Royals.

His parents were long-time friends of Charles’ grandmother Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, and at 13 Andrew was a pageboy at Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation. The two had been dating off and on for several years after meeting at a coming-out ball.

Camilla herself ‘came out’ in 1965 with a Knightsbridge cocktail party when she was 17. Jennifer, the austere diarist of Queen magazine, described her as ‘attractive’, not exactly a ringing endorsement of her looks. It meant ‘average’.

Average or not, the young Miss Shand was hugely popular with ‘debs delights’ as the well-born sons of the aristocracy and landed gentry were known. She, of course, had an eligible pedigree. 

Her father Major Bruce, who won a double MC in World War II, was a wealthy wine merchant and master of foxhounds in East Sussex. Her mother Rosalind, meanwhile, was the daughter of Lord Ashcombe and a member of the exceedingly rich Cubitt family who built Belgravia. Old loves have haunted many a marriage but few have rocked a throne. That Charles had been smitten by Camilla from their very first meeting is beyond question.

Where he was awkward and shy, she was vivacious, confident and outgoing. She was sexy and men found her attractive.

With the Queen setting out her wishes and calling for people to support Charles and Camilla, the duchess will undoubtedly be crowned alongside the prince at his coronation when the time comes. Pictured: Queen Elizabeth II and the Duchess of Rothesay share a laugh during a visit to Dumfries House, Scotland

Charles was deeply upset by his rejection but hardly in a position to complain. It was his own reluctance to commit himself to a woman with a past – an unforgiveable blemish in a prospective queen in the eyes of Earl Mountbatten of Burma, who advised the prince on such matters – which had made it all but inevitable that Camilla would find someone who would. 

The story of their affair and the break-up of the royal marriage has never gone away. Anniversaries of Diana’s death – and this year marks the 25th – have ensured that it (and Camilla’s role) remain in the headlines.

What is remarkable is how the couple have weathered the attention, matched only by the speed of Camilla’s transformation from pariah to duchess to future Queen consort. At times it was painfully slow; Camilla was the ‘non-negotiable’ part of his life.

Their appearance together on the steps of the Ritz Hotel in front of a battery of photographers seemed at the time to be the peak of their ambitions. In fact, it was only the start.

Step by careful step, Camilla assumed a wifely role for the prince – meeting his sons, running his homes and organising his social life. But she was also responsible for a new kind of prince, more relaxed, less cranky. When they were together laughter was often heard. Terms of endearment too – ‘darling’ from him, ‘dear’ from her.There were setbacks aplenty, of course. The publication of Prince Philip’s private letters to Diana, which revealed that he and the Queen ‘never dreamed’ Charles might leave the princess for Camilla, was one.

Nor was Camilla invited to Prince Philip’s 80th birthday celebrations and she was absent from the Golden Jubilee extravaganza.

 In thanking his mother and in paying tribute to his ‘darling wife’, Prince Charles’s response does provoke a question: what about your other wife, mother of your sons and grandmother to your five grandchildren?

By the time of the Queen’s next landmark in 2012, the Diamond Jubilee, she was centre stage – just as she will be for this year’s Platinum jamboree.

From the moment they were declared man and wife almost 17 years ago, Charles and Camilla have looked like a couple who want to grow old together.

She also showed a generosity of spirit to rise above the vicious backbiting and envy that is so much a part of royal life.

It is hard to reconcile the prince of whom Diana said on Panorama that the ‘top job’, i.e. King would be emotionally beyond him, with the heir to the throne who today, thanks to Camilla, is a contented co-monarch with his mother. How much is Camilla responsible? The only conclusion is completely.

Doubtless there will be more hitches in the time ahead.

It is sensible that the Queen informed William and Harry of her position before making it public. Prince Harry’s soon-to-be-published memoir may make difficult reading for Camilla – another potential reason for the Queen revealing her wishes now.

When both boys set out in 2017 to gently question their mother’s friends – it was the 20th anniversary of her death – about her, Camilla’s name came up.

‘Not in a good way,’ says one friend. ‘Harry in particular had some strong words about her.’

In thanking his mother and in paying tribute to his ‘darling wife’, Prince Charles’s response does provoke a question: what about your other wife, mother of your sons and grandmother to your five grandchildren?

Camilla’s elevation to Queen might also be a lot less bumpy if the prince can find it in himself to make an acknowledgement of the debt he also owes Diana. 

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