King Charles and Queen Camilla have been through the toughest of times together. Their up-and-down story all began with their infamous affair while still married to their partners, Charles with Princess Diana and Camilla with Andrew Parker Bowles. But while the public – and parts of the Royal Family – had a tough time accepting Camilla, she eventually managed to turn it around and become a beloved member of the Firm.
Now Camilla wasn’t royal from the beginning, instead growing up in Sussex, where she and her sister, Annabel, were very close. The two did everything together, including attending the same school. These days, Annabel has gotten used to attending some rather glamorous royal events, including the coronation of King Charles.
Camilla’s sister Annabel has stayed in the background for most of her life, not wanting to be a public figure. Recently though, she decided to speak out, revealing new details about what King Charles and Queen Camilla’s marriage is really like.
When the scandalous affair between King Charles and Queen Camila was made public, very few believed it would have a happy ending. At the time, the UK population adored Princess Diana, and after seeing her let down by her husband – though it later turned out that she had an affair too – they turned on Camilla.
King Charles & Queen Camilla
Of course, Charles and Camilla met before the king met Diana. Their relationship can be traced back to 1972, when they first encountered one another at a polo match.
In the book Charles and Camilla, Portrait of a Love Affair, author Gyles Brandreth claims that Charles and Camilla were introduced by their mutual friend Lucia Santa Cruz, the daughter of the Chilean ambassador.
The couple dated for a while, but stopped when Charles left to serve in the Royal Navy. By the time he returned, Camilla was engaged to Andrew Parker Bowles.
Bowles and Camilla married in 1973, though Camilla maintained a close and friendly relationship with Charles. The now-king then started dating 19-year-old Diana Spencer in 1980.
When Diana was introduced to the Bowles couple, Camilla thought the young lady was “sweet and cute” and approved of her. At first, Diana and Camilla got along well. Soon, however, things grew uncomfortable.
“I met [Camilla] very early on. I was introduced to the circle, but I was a threat, I was a very young girl, but I was a threat,” Diana explained in the book Diana: In Her Own Words.
According to Prince Charles’ authorized biography, as quoted by Town & Country, Charles and Camilla’s affair started in 1986. Charles was still married to Princess Diana at that point. She found out about it – and confronted Camilla.
Things for Charles and Diana continued as usual, at least from the public’s perspective. But it wasn’t long before the couple’s fairytale life was over.
Infamous Tampongate scandal
In 1992, the couple announced their separation, though both continued with their official royal duties. Four years later, in August of 1996, they reached a final agreement for the divorce.
By that stage, things had already reached the ears of the public regarding Charles’s relationship with Camilla. And what happened in December 1989 pretty much confirmed that they had been having an affair for years.
Just months after Charles and Diana formally separated, the press published a full transcript of a telephone call between the then-future King and Camilla.
The phone call revealed an intimate and sexual exchange between the pair. According to The Diana Chronicles, the person who recorded it had kept it for himself for years.
The scandal involved the future king, so simply hearing him say things like “live inside her trousers” was wholly unexpected and considered inappropriate. According to Sally Bedel Smith, author of the biography Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern March, a poll was released shortly after the transcript was published.
Sixty-eight percent of pollers said that then-Prince Charles had destroyed his reputation; 42 percent even thought Prince William should become the monarch after Elizabeth.
Camilla also got her fair share of criticism – both from the public and Royal Family members.
As a result, Camilla was, unsurprisingly, not particularly popular among the British public. Not only that, but she wasn’t exactly a favorite of Queen Elizabeth’s either. In 2018, investigative author and journalist Tom Bower claimed that, at first, the queen didn’t want any interaction with Camilla, leading to Charles confronting his mother.
Queen Camilla was afraid of leaving her house
As stated, the public didn’t want anything to do with Camilla, and according to royal expert Angela Levin, author of the 2022 book Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall: A Royal Survivor, Camilla had to endure “torrents” of mistreatment.
Speaking with OK!, Levin claimed the now-queen was pretty much forced to spend most of her time at her home to avoid backlash. Moreover, the expert claims Camilla was afraid to leave the house to shop or visit stores. Instead, she had to send her friends to do her errands.
“It was very difficult for her, as she was portrayed as the most wicked woman in the world. She was constantly called nasty names like ‘rottweiler,’ and it must have come as a huge shock that people were so vile about her,” Levin said.
It has been reported Charles himself paid for Camilla’s security, hiring two full-time protection officers. When they married in 2005, she qualified for publicly funded security, meaning Charles no longer had to pay them out of his pocket.
Levin said: “I don’t think Charles realised how awful it was for her. He was often away on engagements and working hard for the country and Commonwealth, and at the time, Camilla didn’t have protection officers because she wasn’t part of the Royal Family. But when Charles finally realized, he did get protection for her, which he paid for himself.”
Fortunately for Camilla, she became increasingly popular as the years went by. Even so, Angela Levin suspects she “must still bear the scars of it all.”
“She still gets nervous about things,” Levin added. “She can never be sure how people are going to react towards her,” the royal expert and author added. “There’s a small but very harsh group of people who still think she’s the wrong woman for him.”
“I don’t think she will ever be truly loved”
Today, the public view of Camilla is completely changed. According to public relations expert Luana Ribeira, the queen has performed a “PR miracle”, though that doesn’t necessarily mean that she has won the hearts of the public.
“I’m not sure Queen Camilla will ever fully win over the hearts of the people,” Ribeira told GB News. “The mere fact there even is a Queen Camilla is a PR miracle of sorts when you consider the vehement feelings the British public had about her during the 1990s.”
She added: “Queen Camilla is the kind of straight-talking, no-nonsense person who is never going to make people dewy-eyed at the sound of her name. I don’t think she will ever be truly loved by the British public but I think she has earned their grudging respect.”
Moreover, Ribeira advised Queen Camilla on how to win over the public, which is to continue “exactly as she is.”
“Queen Camilla has proved herself to be a loyal and devoted partner, even during the years she was demonised as Britain’s most hated woman.
“She has shown us that she isn’t going anywhere and she will continue to show up and carry out her duties, regardless of what people may think about her. This ‘keep calm and carry on’ spirit is a crucial part of her redemption arc.”
While Queen Camilla’s way to the royal summit has been filled with adversity, she’s benefitted from the great support of her husband and most of the Royal Family. Then, of course, there’s the one person who always has stood by her no matter what has happened: Annabel Elliot.
Camilla and Annabel grew up together in Sussex. As the Express reported, they were described as “perfect” and inseparable. They attended the same schools throughout their childhood and the same Pony Club events as they grew up. As they got older they also became party buddies.
Annabel reveals new details on Queen Camilla and King Charles’ marriage
By all accounts, Camilla and Annabel followed each other wherever they both went. Later in life, they married their respective husbands in the same year and even had children simultaneously. Needless to say, they went on lovely family holidays together and created unforgettable memories with their family.
Annabel has kept herself out of the spotlight throughout the years, though her family has been in the public eye. Recently, she decided to speak out as the new BBC1 documentary, Charles III: The Coronation Year, was released. It turns out that Camilla and Annabel’s close sibling bond is finally getting some attention, with Annabel describing Camilla as King Charles’ “rock” during many tough and challenging years.
“She is his rock, and I can’t actually emphasize that enough. She is somebody who is completely loyal, and she isn’t somebody who has huge highs and lows,” Annabel, who works as an interior designer, said in the documentary.
The queen’s sister added: “He brings to her everything. I’m not talking about all of this, but you know he has such a knowledge and interest in so many different things which she wouldn’t really have been open to if she hadn’t met him. They are their yin and yang really, they really are polar opposites, but it works brilliantly.”
Richard Jackson, Bishop of Hereford, one of the two Bishops Assistants to Queen Camilla for the coronation, added: “I think what struck me particularly is how extraordinarily affectionate they are. They’re clearly a very close family of all the generations, and in a sense, you felt you were part of a family occasion as well as a royal occasion and a national occasion.”
“It was quite a moment”
For more than 30 years, Anabel has run her show, Annabel Elliot Interior Design and Antiques, in Dorset. In 2014, she was named the fifth most influential female interior designer in the UK.
Annabel has also worked closely with King Charles. She was first employed to work on Charles’s house Llwywormwood, in Wales, which he bought in 2006.
According to The Telegraph, Annabel Elliot was given more than $380,000 for her work between 2005 and 2008. Some politicians thought it was a matter of cronyism, but that’s not how Charles viewed it.
“There was no tender. The Prince knows her and likes her work. Annabel Elliot is an established interior designer,” a Clarence House spokesperson said at the time.
Queen Camilla and the Royal Family members travel the country week in and week out, meeting members of the public and learning more about what is happening in the country. However, despite Camilla having many aides and advisers, Annabel is constantly at her sister’s side, advising her on all matters.
When King Charles was crowned at Westminster Abbey, Annabel was, of course, present, supporting her sister, who was to become Queen.
The documentary Charles III: The Coronation Year gave viewers a behind-the-scenes look. Annabel watched Camilla heading to Westminster Abbey to be crowned, and grew visibly emotional.
Along with Fiona, the Marchioness of Lansdowne, Camilla’s close friend, Annabel had the formal role of Lady in Attendance to the Queen during the coronation.
“When I thought back to being two years old and watching the Queen’s Coronation on a tiny black and white television and there goes this golden coach with my sister in it. I can’t explain the feeling because it’s so surreal. This cannot be happening. It was quite a moment,” Annabel said.
“Going into the Abbey, I think I had that nervousness all the time, she’s quite a bit smaller than I am. I’m feeling: ‘Is she going to be all right?”
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