• Weird History

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

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

Born Camilla Shand in 1947, she first entered Prince Charles’ 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 Prince 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 ended in divorce, and Charles and Camilla became Public Enemies No. 1 and No. 2 for their adulterous 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.