Camilla was born into aristocratic circles and became a debutante in 1965, but her name did become part of the public sphere until the Nineties. After the publication of Andrew Morton’s ‘Diana — Her True Story’ in 1992 alluded to their affair, Prince Charles felt he ought to admit he and Camilla had been in an extramarital relationship since 1986. The pair had dated in the Seventies, but both then married other people. As Diana was the People’s Princess, the news of Charles’ affair left the public devastated and meant Camilla was seen as the Machiavellian mistress.
After this, the Princess of Wales’ unprecedented, and astonishing, BBC Panorama interview in 1995 appeared to cement Camilla’s negative reputation.
Diana infamously said in the documentary: “There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.”
The royal went on to say knowledge of their romance had a “pretty devastating effect” on her and exacerbated her eating disorder, a confession which left the public completely stunned.
Even before the interview was aired, reports that Camilla had bread rolls thrown at her once news of their affair broke had been circulating ever since an intimate phone call between the Prince of Wales and his mistress was leaked in 1993.
This tale only grew in popularity after Charles confessed to Jonathan Dimbleby that they had been having an affair in 1994, although the date of the supposed event then became confused.
While the alleged bread-throwing culprit was never revealed, that such a claim could survive for so many years gives some insight into the hostile public opinion towards Charles’ then mistress at the time.
Yet, Camilla took a surprising approach towards this unfriendly attitude from the public.
Shortly after Diana’s 1995 interview aired, journalist Mary Braid noted: “Silence and discretion are Camilla’s trademarks.”
She continued: “This is a woman who has endured without a whisper an avalanche of public insults, even a pelting with bread rolls by a customer in her local supermarket after Prince Charles told millions about their affair on television (she no longer does her own shopping).
“This is a woman who once encountered a journalist breaking into her downstairs loo; and who had the contents of a family album, taken without her consent, splashed all over a newspaper.
“There was a photograph of her in a bikini and another of the Prince of Wales with Camilla’s baby son Tom and the Prince’s godchild, in his arms.”
Ms Braid explained: “With so little from the horse’s mouth, the question of whether she is weeping her way through this weekend — a lonely, washed-up middle-aged woman who forfeited marriage and social standing for love — is largely speculation.”
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Nigel Evans, then editor of Majesty magazine, also told The Independent in 1995 that Camilla’s stoic attitude could save the monarchy, especially in contrast to Diana’s confessions.
The BBC then examined the “rise of Camilla” in 2001, and noted that she has always been determined to keep herself to herself.
Journalist Andrew Walker explained: “For the woman who has in the past suffered such indignities as being labelled the ‘Rottweiler’ and having bread rolls thrown at her by Diana fans, to have come this far down the Highgrove path without facing further hostility must in itself count as a significant achievement.”
Camilla transformed her public image through Prince Charles’ advisers.
She finally met with the Queen in 2000, and made her public appearance as Charles’ partner in 1999 when leaving the Ritz Hotel in London.
She has since married the Prince of Wales but was careful to take the title of the Duchess of Cornwall out of respect for Diana.
It remains to be seen whether she will become Queen consort when Charles ascends the throne.