Friends Of Queen Camilla Who Are In Her Inner Circle

To say that Camilla, Queen Consort, has walked an unconventional path side by side with the royal family is an understatement. Having crossed paths with a young King Charles III back in the early 1970s, Camilla marched to the beat of her own drum — an aspect of her personality that deemed her unfit to marry the future king of England by the institution's standards at the time. She was bold, funny, a woman who didn't shy away from dating, and her down-to-earth approach granted her many friends along the way.

Of course, she and Charles did eventually marry after their subsequent divorces. Having maintained a close friendship — and a romantic connection for at least part of Charles' marriage to Princess Diana — the two finally tying the knot was a long time coming. As she has now become queen consort alongside Charles, Camilla is in a rare position of influence that few have experienced, but all in all, she has appeared to approach the job with the same relatable attitude.

Perhaps her laid-back demeanor and ability to laugh off the conflict that so many would get wrapped up in has allowed Camilla to make and maintain a core group of friends. Some she's known for years, some are newer to the pack, and one is her son, but Camilla's inner circle is packed with supporters who only have kind words to say about the once-controversial "third person" in Charles and Diana's turbulent marriage.

Dame Judi Dench

Of all the friends that Camilla, Queen Consort, has collected over the years, her bond with actress Dame Judi Dench is incredibly strong. The two have shared many public outings, one of which being in 2018 when they strolled The Isle of Wight — they even snagged ice cream cones each to savor while walking on Queen Victoria's private beach (per MyLondon). Their friendship has gone past just enjoying each other's company, however, as Dench has partnered with Camilla in official capacities.

Ahead of King Charles III's coronation on May 6, a number of charitable moves were put in place to bring a sense of community to the occasion. One such effort was called the Coronation Champions Award, which was an effort spearheaded by none other than Camilla and the famed actress. The award's purpose was to honor 500 recipients who gave back to their communities despite facing their own personal battles, and Dench released a statement ahead of her joint efforts with Camilla, singing the royal's praises.

"I have seen how the power of volunteering can be invaluable and far-reaching," Dench said (via Vanity Fair). "The Coronation Champions Awards are not only a fitting tribute to Their Majesties' own public service, but they are also a superb opportunity to pause and show our appreciation for the people who are achieving marvelous things through volunteering."

Annabel Elliot

Someone who's always been in the queen consort's corner is her sister, Annabel Elliot. The two are not only incredibly close, but they look nearly identical. Camilla, Queen Consort, and her sister have been seen a fair few times in public together in casual and official capacities, often walking side by side and giving royal watchers a fun time determining who is who. They've seen each other through the highs and lows — Annabel was there for Camilla during the heightened media scrutiny that focused on her relationship with King Charles III, and the two rallied around each other when they lost their brother, Mark Shand, in a tragic accident in 2014. To say that they have each other's back is an understatement, and it's thanks to Annabel that Camilla even made it to the altar in 2005 to finally marry Charles.

Royal biographer Penny Junor detailed the ill-fated day in April 2005 for Vanity Fair, when Camilla was supposed to be getting ready for her wedding. Practically bedridden thanks to sinusitis, Camilla was down for the count and it was going to be a miracle if she got ready. That's when Annabel chimed: "O.K., that's all right. I'm going to do it for you. I'm going to get into your clothes" — clearly using their similar looks to her advantage. At her sister's classic takedown that only a sibling can get away with, Camilla jumped out of bed and started getting ready for the big day.

Andrew Parker Bowles

Before Camilla, Queen Consort, married King Charles III and officially became a working member of the royal family, she was previously married to Andrew Parker Bowles. Their wedding came while Charles was away in the armed forces, and though their nuptials were certainly seen as a celebratory affair in high society circles, their dueling extramarital affairs crumbled their union fairly quickly. Despite their ups and downs, however, Camilla and Andrew have stayed in each other's lives and are said to be incredibly close — surprising? Yes, but they have seen the other through thick and thin.

Speaking to a number of inner circle members to get a read on Camilla and Andrew's bond these days, The Times interviewed friends and close acquaintances who described Andrew as a typical charmer who everyone gravitates toward. His bond with Camilla, meanwhile, extends far past their roles as exes.

"Andrew will ring her up and tell her when she's got something wrong and she'll ring him up and say when he's misbehaving," the Marchioness of Lansdowne told The Times. "Through adversity they've kept a really good family ethic. It helps with their children and grandchildren." Meanwhile, another friend — under the guise of anonymity — revealed: "They are joined at the hip. He arranges so much for her. They have lunch together the whole time. He's right in there. He was always, and still is, Camilla's co-conspirator."

Dame Joanna Lumley

The queen consort's inner circle is made up of a cast of characters, yet one of her biggest supporters is actress Dame Joanna Lumley. Known for the British hit, "Absolutely Fabulous," Lumley has often spoken about her connection with Camilla, Queen Consort, and has been pictured with her and King Charles III on a number of occasions. In addition to her close friendship with the royals, Lumley has decried Netflix's "The Crown" as its timeline got closer and closer to the present day. Making it clear that she will not watch the show — nor does she agree with its premise to begin with — Lumley said that her loyalty to the crown stopped her from indulging in the drama, and she even spoke about the decision and her reverence to Camilla.

"Suddenly, the show began to get closer and closer and they had people acting as Prince Charles, as Camilla Parker Bowles, as Princess Anne. I know them all," Lumley said of the hit Netflix drama (via MyLondon), which has made it clear that it's a fictional interpretation of the British royal family. "I know that's not how they speak or what they said or did. People say, 'Oh, well everybody knows that it's made up.' People don't, people think it's the truth. So I decided not to watch it anymore because I have some loyalty, as one would to anybody they know and like and are lucky enough to be friendly with."

Jeremy Clarkson

Of all the members of Camilla, Queen Consort's inner circle that are problematic, Jeremy Clarkson takes the cake. The former host of the hit British show "Top Gear," Clarkson galvanized his reputation as a gruff presenter who doesn't hold back his opinion. Though he was let go from the show after hitting a producer, he has continued to enjoy a fruitful career thanks to the Amazon pickup of the show and his own media presence. Adding even more fuel to his public fire is Camilla, who has been known to rub shoulders with him on several occasions.

The two even shared the headlines back in December 2022 — it's a little involved, so here's what went down: Camilla hosted a Christmas lunch on December 14, inviting Clarkson as well as Dame Judi Dench, Piers Morgan, and other members of her tribe — of course, Morgan is known for his brutal opinions of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and Clarkson is no exception either. The following day, Harry and Meghan's Netflix docuseries dropped its final three episodes, and on December 16, The Sun published a truly mind-blowing column written by Clarkson that targeted Meghan in a profound and hurtful manner. Camilla's friend wrote: "[I'm] dreaming of the day she is made to parade naked through the streets of every town in Britain while the crowds chant, 'Shame!' and throw lumps of excrement at her" (via the Independent). The backlash, naturally, was enormous.

Tom Parker Bowles

Amid his exodus from royal life, Prince Harry has shared his experiences on his own terms in the form of his Netflix docuseries and his memoir, "Spare." Not mincing his words about Camilla, Queen Consort, Harry estimated that she had used him as part of her own PR strategy, sacrificing him and Meghan Markle to the wolves in order to take the target off her back that had been there since the 1990s. And while Harry made his thoughts on his stepmother clear, she was quickly defended by her son and inner-circle pal, Tom Parker Bowles. Speaking to the hosts of the The News Agents podcast, Tom maintained that Camilla didn't have a calculated plan, but rather married the man that she had always loved.

"I don't care what anyone says, this wasn't any sort of endgame. She married the person she loved and this is what happened," Tom said, rebuking Harry's estimations that Camilla and her communications office fed negative stories about him and Meghan to the royal rota. After hosts Emily Maitlis and Jon Sopel went as far as asking Tom if the royals — and his mother — were at all worried about Harry and Meghan attending the coronation (their RSVPs had not been received at the time), Tom shot back: "That has nothing to do with me at all." To say that he is one of his mother's biggest defenders is an understatement.

Gyles Brandreth

The inner circle of Camilla, Queen Consort, is made up of obvious figures and surprising friends, but one such bond that really came as a surprise was — and is — her dynamic with Prince Philip's biographer, Gyles Brandreth. Brandreth first crossed paths with the royals more than four decades ago and had great reverence for Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth II. However, he proved his loyalty to Camilla in a truly surprising column written for the Daily Mail published shortly after Queen Elizabeth's death in September 2022, estimating that Camilla and King Charles III were Philip and Elizabeth's second act.

Writing specifically about Charles and Camilla's tour of the United Kingdom in the wake of Elizabeth's death, Brandreth wrote: "Watching them together every step of the way through the difficult, tense and crowded ten days since the Queen died, I see my old boss (and hero) reborn — in Camilla." Focusing on Camilla as the new consort and wife of the king, Brandreth honored her even further, harkening back to the queen's decision to announce Camilla as the future queen consort during the Platinum Jubilee.

"Elizabeth II was a wise woman. She knew what she was doing and, as ever, she got it right," Brandreth wrote. "Famously, the Queen described Prince Philip as her 'strength and stay.' That's exactly what Camilla is to Charles. She is fundamental to the architecture of his life."

Sarah Troughton

It could be seen as an effort to win over the public even more — or perhaps they're just admiring her — but members of Camilla, Queen Consort's inner circle made even more statements in the prominent British media amid her rising status and eventual accession to the throne. One close chum that had nothing but kind words for Camilla was Sarah Troughton, who just so happened to be one of Queen Elizabeth II's cousins. Ahead of Camilla's 75th birthday in July 2022, Troughton made an appearance on "Good Morning Britain" and made it clear that Camilla was not only central to King Charles III's happiness and stability but that she was not the villain that she'd been made out to be for so many years.

"I defy anybody not to be charmed by a smile from the duchess," Troughton said, before revealing that Camilla's birthday celebration that year would consist of a party with family and friends (via the Daily Mail). When prompted to share even more about Camilla — who has been in the public eye for decades thanks to her infamous affair with Charles and the demise of his marriage to Princess Diana — Troughton simply responded to the on-air hosts: "I don't think there's much that will surprise you, all I can tell you is that she's the nicest, kindest, most amusing friend one could possibly have, to all generations, that includes our children."

Petronella Wyatt

The closely-knitted group of Camilla, Queen Consort, certainly got the memo that they should boast about her publicly because yet another close friend used column inches from the Daily Mail to express their love and admiration for the royal. One such friend was Petronella Wyatt, who recalled her friendship with the queen consort and gave insight into what she was like back in the day. Wyatt revealed in her column — published just ahead of the coronation — that she met Camilla alongside then-husband Andrew Parker Bowles all the way back in the 1980s when she was just 18 years old. Seeing her ascend the throne with King Charles III, Wyatt wrote, was an experience she never thought she'd witness.

"One of the most laudable and lovable characteristics of our new queen is her loyalty and lack of stiff-backed formality, qualities I have experienced first hand," Wyatt revealed in her column about Camilla and the friendship they have shared for decades. "It will be strange watching her crowned, for it is the last thing anyone who knew her then would ever have predicted. ... She drank and smoked with aplomb. Her humor was dry and bawdy. ... She was nobody's idea of a future queen, however. But perhaps it is that informal quality that makes her the perfect consort for the 21st century. Relatable, calm and easy-going, she is more likely to shriek with laughter if her dress doesn't fit than retreat into a cold Windsor huff."

Lady Sarah Keswick

Lady Sarah Keswick is another member of Camilla, Queen Consort's inner circle. Not only do they share a close bond, but Lady Sarah is an integral part of Camilla's redefining structural changes brought to the monarchy. In a surprising move, it was revealed that Camilla would be kicking the ladies-in-waiting role to the curb – a role that has been present within the firm for generations. 

Instead, she wanted to have a group of women around her called "the Queen's Companions" (via the BBC), who would serve in a more public and honorary role rather than as glorified assistants — which was usually how the ladies-in-waiting were described. Lady Sarah, along with five other close companions of Camilla's, assists her in planning and executing public events and serves as a much-needed support system, rather than responding to her correspondence or keeping tabs on her calendar.

The tradition of ladies-in-waiting goes back to the Middle Ages, where women — like Lady Sarah — were chosen from high-society families in order to serve the crown. As King Charles III and Camilla have made it clear that they want to slim down and modernize the monarchy, Lady Sarah's role alongside Camilla and her five other companions cannot be overstated in its importance. Kicking such a historic practice to the warm-up bench is a move that not many saw coming.

King Charles III

This one is a bit of a given, but perhaps the person at the center of Camilla, Queen Consort's inner circle is none other than her husband, King Charles III. The two have been inseparable for decades, and while their romance was disapproved of for years, they have certainly come out on top. Dissecting their bond even further is body language expert Darren Stanton, who spoke to Marie Claire about Camilla's own autonomy within the royal family, but also about her dedication to Charles and the monarchy as a whole.

First focusing on their public appearances as a couple, Stanton revealed: "On walkabouts, Charles very often looks for Camilla if he can't see her straight away as he wants her to be by his side because of the great deal of confidence she gives him."

Moving on to the couple's significance within the institution, Stanton went as far as comparing the couple to the magnificent power that Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip shared. "The dynamic between the queen and Prince Philip has kind of been transferred onto Charles and Camilla and I think she will make a great queen consort and will serve him well as Prince Phillip served the queen," Stanton continued. "The two seem to have incredible rapport with each other and always appear to be laughing. The most faked emotion is smiling or laughter but with Charles and Camilla you can tell they are sometimes like two naughty school children having fun."