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The Story Of How Britain's Queen Consort Got Her Start

Love her or hate her, Camilla, the former Duchess of Cornwall, became the most prominent woman in the United Kingdom when her husband became King Charles III. But prominence does not always equal respect. Vilified through her royal affair, King Charles' wife took paths of adultery, romance, heartbreak, and controversy to arrive where she is today.

Born Camilla Shand in 1947, she first entered Prince Charles’s life in the early '70s - and never really left. They had a brief, but powerful romance. Though each married other people - Camilla to Andrew Parker Bowles in 1973 and Charles to Lady Diana Spencer in 1981 - they didn’t let these romances get between their rich friendship and, eventually, an affair ensued.

Why did Charles and Diana divorce? Though many factors played a part - and most people believe their marriage was doomed from the start - Camilla Parker Bowles cast a long shadow over the marriage. By the mid '90s, both marriages had ended in divorce, and Charles and Camilla became Public Enemies No. 1 and No. 2 for their behavior.

The couple’s marriage in 2005 made Camilla a permanent fixture in the United Kingdom and brought some respectability to their relationship, but it also showed how high a mistress can rise in a royal family plagued by scandal.

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