What Queen Camilla's Friends Have Said About Her

In May 2023, King Charles III and his wife Camilla, queen consort, officially took the throne and became the ruling monarchs of the United Kingdom. However, even though she's one of the most famous women in the world, Camilla has remained somewhat of an enigma over the years. From her highly publicized affair with then-Prince Charles, to her time in the spotlight after the death of Princess Diana, and finally all the way to the coronation, Camilla likes to keep a relatively low profile.

According to Vanity Fair, this was very much intentional. She even once reportedly said that she would like to avoid giving a single interview for the entire rest of her life.

However, there's another possible narrative about Camilla's relationship with the press. According to her stepson, Prince Harry, the queen consort has a close relationship with the media, and she may have even used her close contacts very intentionally, in order to sway public opinion. To that end, read on for a look at things Camilla's friends have said about her ... some of which were at her explicit direction.

She had an idyllic childhood

Camilla Shand, the young girl who would one day be queen consort, was born to an aristocratic family in 1947. Her great-grandmother was Alice Keppel, who was a mistress of King Edward VII. "My job is to curtsy first, and then jump into bed!" her great-grandmother would say.

According to Camilla's childhood friend William Shawcross, the Shand home was an enjoyable one to be around. "Fun was one of the main things I remember about the Shand household," he told Vanity Fair. "There were ponies, dogs, picnics. There was no pomp, no snobbery, but a lot of fun for all ages. The Shands were a happy clan."

Shawcross then elaborated on Camilla's childhood. He painted a picture of the future queen consort as an adventurous young girl, one who liked to explore the world around her. "Rosalind used to let Camilla and Annabel go on riding-and-camping nights," Shawcross recalled. "They slept on the downs in sleeping bags." Perhaps realizing that he was making her childhood sound idyllic, Shawcross confirmed that's exactly what it was. "There's always a risk of being too nostalgic about one's own youth," he said. "But we were very lucky, growing up in the '50s in the countryside in England."

She's still friends with her ex-husband

Camilla, queen consort, first met King Charles III in 1970. According to "Historical Dictionary of the British Monarchy," she reportedly told him, "My great-grandmother was your great-great-grandfather's mistress, so how about it?" Several years later, however, the future queen consort married Andrew Parker Bowles, a member of the aristocracy who was once a page at Queen Elizabeth's coronation. 

Andrew and Camilla Parker Bowles, as she was then known, remained married for over 20 years ... though, reportedly, she began having an affair with the future king while he was still married to Princess Diana. Camilla divorced in 1995, and King Charles left Princess Diana the following year, clearing the path for Camilla and Charles to be together.

That being said, Camilla has remained close friends with her ex-husband. He was in attendance at her coronation, and his friend told The Times that the invite surprised no one. "They are joined at the hip ... " the friend said. "He's right in there. He was always, and still is, Camilla's co-conspirator." The Marchioness of Lansdowne, a friend of Camilla's, confirmed the sentiment. "Everybody loves Andrew," she said. "He's a real charmer but he's always terribly misbehaving." Parker Bowles and his ex-wife frequently tell each other when they have done something wrong, she explained. "Through adversity they've kept a really good family ethic. It helps with their children and grandchildren."

A friend claimed she didn't break up Charles and Diana

At this point, it's an open secret that King Charles III and Camilla, queen consort, were romantically involved while both were still married to other people. According to The Guardian, then-Prince Charles admitted to having been unfaithful in a 1994 documentary. The following year, Princess Diana sat for an interview with documentarian Martin Bashir for the BBC, and she infamously proclaimed, "Well, there were three of us in this marriage. So it was a bit crowded" (via YouTube).

That all being said, Camilla's childhood friend William Shawcross told NBC News that she was not, in fact, responsible for breaking up King Charles' marriage to Princess Diana. "She's not a home wrecker, she's not a husband stealer," he insisted. "I don't think that Charles' marriage with Diana foundered because of Camilla. That's just a myth that the press likes to create and perpetuate."

Whether or not her affair with Charles was responsible for his divorce from Diana, the British public certainly seemed to think it was. As The Mirror noted, the future queen consort was once branded "the most hated woman in Britain" thanks to her perceived role as "the other woman." It would take decades for public opinion to swing her way.

Prince Charles treated her like 'an absolute pig'

When King Charles III's affair with Camilla, queen consort, first went public, she received a lot of attention from the British press. There were insinuations about her character in all the papers, and we should, of course, also mention Tampongate. In 1993, the media published transcripts of a recorded conversation between Charles and Camilla. The future monarch infamously proclaimed that he hoped to someday be reincarnated as a certain feminine hygiene product, proving that Charles has quite the ... vivid imagination, we might say.

Her friend William Shawcross told NBC News that she weathered all of the attention quietly. "She's always been discreet and she has never sought to answer back," he said. "She has never sort of stooped if you like to say: 'I must have my day on the front of the tabloid press' and I think that's a terrific sign of strength on her part."

On the other hand, Camilla's friends were quite disappointed with how Charles handled the situation. According to Penny Juror's biography of Camilla, "The Duchess: The Untold Story," a friend reflected, "Frankly, Charles has behaved like an absolute pig and landed Camilla right in it. She has done absolutely nothing to deserve this after all the support she has given him over the years through difficult times."

She remained calm while under tabloid scrutiny

The '90s were a tumultuous decade in the future queen consort's life. King Charles' divorce from Princess Diana generated an incredible amount of media scrutiny, especially considering the swirling rumors of an affair with Camilla. Things got even worse when Diana died. "It was horrid," Camilla told The Daily Mail, recalling being bound to her home to avoid the press. "It was a deeply unpleasant time and I wouldn't want to put my worst enemy through it."

Baroness Chisholm, one of the queen's companions, told the BBC that she was by Camilla's side during the height of the tabloid scrutiny surrounding Charles' marriage and divorce from Diana. Despite all of the intense pressure the future queen consort faced, Baroness Chisholm recalled that her friend remained calm.

"We used to ride together and there was really never a day went by when we weren't followed by press," she said. "We'd come around the corner and they'd be there with cameras. She was absolutely calm. She would say, can we take one picture, and then can you leave us alone?" Frequently, they would not be left alone, but it didn't seem to bother the future queen consort.

She was hurt by Prince Harry's memoir

It's no secret that Camilla's relationship with Prince Harry has been a rollercoaster of emotions over the years. In "Harry: Conversations with the Prince," the ginger royal told the author that he disagrees with the narrative that has surrounded the queen consort in the press. "She's not a wicked stepmother ... " he said. "She's a wonderful woman and she's made our father very, very happy which is the most important thing. William and I love her to bits."

By the time Prince Harry was promoting his own memoir, however, the "Spare" author had some choice words for his stepmother. He wrote that she orchestrated "a campaign aimed at marriage."

A friend of Camilla's told Vanity Fair that the elder royal had a strong reaction to the ITV interview. "[She's] just astounded by the whole thing," the friend said. An aide told The Times that she rolled her eyes over the memoir, but Camilla's close friend, the Marchioness of Lansdowne, had more to say about the queen consort's reaction to being trounced by her stepson. "Of course it bothers her, of course it hurts. But she doesn't let it get to her," she said. "Her philosophy is always, 'Don't make a thing of it and it will settle down — least said, soonest mended.'"

She doesn't watch The Crown

On the third season of Netflix hit "The Crown," Emerald Fennell joined the cast as Camilla Shand, the younger version of the woman who would someday be queen consort. She told Vogue that, unlike a lot of people, she has a fondness for Camilla. "From what I have heard, she is an incredibly funny, warm, nice person, and I'm interested in anyone whose story that's been told by the world, and by the media, is maybe at odds with who they really are," Fennell said. "It seemed like a situation that was dreadful for everyone involved, and I think that she probably got a lot of the heat."

The actor met her real-life inspiration at an International Women's Day event in 2022. The duo apparently had a lovely chat, and as she made a speech at the event, Camilla joked, "For me, it's very reassuring to know that if I should fall off my perch at any moment, my fictional alter ego is here to take over. So, Emerald, be prepared!" (via Instagram).

However, it appears that Camilla may have never actually seen Fennell's portrayal of her. "Absolutely Fabulous" star Joanna Lumley, a friend of the royal couple, told The Australian Women's Weekly that the king and queen consort don't watch "The Crown." She said, "I don't think they watch it, and I never watch it. I know them, so I know it's all made up and it's rubbish" (via The Mirror).

She loves spending time at Ray Mill House

Camilla, queen consort, finalized her divorce from Andrew Parker Bowles in 1995. Shortly thereafter, she purchased Ray Mill House, a gorgeous country estate in Wiltshire. According to photos published by Hello Magazine, the £850,000 home boasts a beautiful garden, several quaint bedrooms, and an ostentatious chandelier in the entranceway. The magazine wrote that the home was the queen's full-time residence between 1996 and 2003, and she maintains the property for important events and occasional stays. For example, her daughter, Laura Lopes, had her wedding there.

According to the Marchioness of Lansdowne, the royal treasures the escape she finds at Ray Mill House. Lady Lansdowne told The Times that her friend is able to walk her dogs in the area, and Camilla often invites her friends over for a chat. "At Ray Mill she loves cooking her own simple supper on the Aga leaning over the dogs, having it on a tray with a glass of wine, a dog on her lap, listening to 'The Archers' or reading a book," Lady Lansdowne said. "I go and have lunch with her often and we sit in the kitchen and have a good natter."

After her coronation, it's unclear how much time the queen consort will have to spend at her beloved home. She once told Country Life, "It is my refuge. The one place where I can be completely relaxed on my own terms."

She and Charles are a fun couple

When they are out in public, royals are typically expected to follow a strict code of conduct. They represent the monarchy, after all, so historically, monarchs are expected to remain stern. 

Behind the scenes, however, members of the royal family are, after all, people. According to William Shawcross, the newly crowned monarchs are the type who love to laugh, just like everyone else. "They're fun. They're obviously — they are a cozy couple," he said in an interview with NBC News on the occasion of their 2005 wedding. "They laugh at each other's jokes, they support each other, they have fun together. They sort of wink across the table."

As much as they may try to remain austere in public, on occasion, the two have been pictured getting their giggle on. In 2015, per The Guardian, they couldn't help but chuckle after then-Prince Charles was bothered by a bumblebee. In more offensive news, they guffawed during a display of Inuit throat-singing, which isn't great (via YouTube).

She was beaming on her wedding day

King Charles III and Camilla, queen consort, first met all the way back in the early 1970s, but their relationship was not yet to be. Although they stayed in touch over the intervening decades — and, some say, continued to have a relationship — the future queen consort married Andrew Parker Bowles, and the future king wed Princess Diana. It was not until both couples divorced in the mid-'90s that they could finally make their relationship official.

However, things became rocky after the death of Princess Diana; Camilla took a back seat as the royal family figured out their way forward. Still, according to The Guardian, Prince William met his father's new (old) flame in 1998.

They finally wed in 2005 at a civil ceremony. Because it was not a religious wedding — as both members of the couple had previously been divorced — Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip did not attend their son's nuptials. Still, according to her friend and former roommate Jane Churchill, Camilla was nothing but smiles on her wedding day. Churchill acknowledged to Vanity Fair that it took a lot of pain to get there, saying, "If you're going to go through all that heartache, well, at least if two people end up happy, at least something comes out of it." Furthermore, she noted, "I've never, ever seen Camilla look so happy as she did when she walked down the aisle."

She got along well with Prince Philip

Any newcomer to the royal family faces a difficult task in winning over the more senior members. That was certainly the case when the news of the future king's relationship with the future queen consort broke. The royal family was reportedly unhappy with his decision, and Prince Philip went as far as to put his disappointment down on paper. In a 1992 letter to Princess Diana, he wrote, "We never dreamed he might feel like leaving you for her. I cannot imagine anyone in their right mind would leave you for Camilla. Such a prospect never even entered our heads" (via The Mirror).

That being said, Camilla's childhood friend William Shawcross has insisted that the erstwhile other woman wasn't scared of her lover's father. "[She] got on very well with Prince Philip," he told The Washington Post. "Many people were scared or in awe of him. Not her." 

That jives with what Camilla herself has said about her relationship with her father-in-law. After he passed away, she spoke with The Australian Women's Weekly and revealed that Prince Philip used to be a useful person to confide in. "The Duke of Edinburgh was always a very good ear. He was a role model to me and a very good person to take advice from because he always told me what he thought," she said (via People).

She has a complicated relationship with the press

While on a press tour for his memoir "Spare," Prince Harry spoke at length to a number of outlets about his opinion of Camilla, queen consort. In the book, he wrote that details of his brother's meeting with the future queen consort appeared in the press, leading him to view her with suspicion: "Stories began to appear everywhere, in all the papers, about her private conversation with Willy, stories that contained pinpoint accurate details, none of which had come from Willy, of course. They could only have been leaked by the one other person present." Prince Harry even went so far as to accuse his stepmother of using a "spin doctor" to get positive information into the papers.

While speaking with Anderson Cooper for "60 Minutes," Prince Harry went into more detail about how he saw Camilla using the press to her advantage. "[She was dangerous] because of the need for her to rehabilitate her image, " Harry explained (via YouTube). "That made her dangerous because of the connections that she was forging within the British press."

Camilla's friends dispute Prince Harry's characterization of her relationship with the media. The Marchioness of Lansdowne told The Times that the royal's rehabilitated public image wasn't the result of scheming. "Just by being herself and not by putting on a campaign face, there has been a natural evolution of people just seeing who she is," she said.

Friends claim she never schemed to be queen

In his memoir "Spare," Prince Harry claimed that he and his brother asked their father not to marry Camilla. After the meeting went poorly, Prince Harry wrote, "She began to play the long game," with her sights ultimately on the crown. Explaining their reasoning to Anderson Cooper on "60 Minutes," Prince Harry explained, "We didn't think it was necessary. We thought that it was gonna cause more harm than good. And that if he was now with his person, that surely that's enough. Why go that far when you don't necessarily need to?" (via YouTube).

Pushing back against Prince Harry's claims, friends of the newly-crowned royal told The Daily Beast that she never planned to be queen. "All Camilla ever did was have the bad luck to fall in love with a prince," a friend said. "Literally the last thing she could care about is being queen. It's absurd, and anyone who knows her knows it is absurd."

The Marchioness of Lansdowne gave her friend props for being willing to assume the throne late in life. Speaking with The Times, she said, "The extraordinary thing is that she has taken it on now at 75. It's a hell of a thing to be doing when most of us are settling down into retirement."

She gave input for the coronation

The coronation of King Charles III and Camilla, queen consort, was an elaborate affair. The May 2023 celebration of Charles' ascension to the throne involved a processional, the main ceremony, various receptions, and even a concert where the likes of Katy Perry performed for the royals. Planning such an event must have required coordinating doubtless thousands of people, and we can assume that many members of the firm would have given input on how things should be run.

One such person who got involved in the planning: Camilla herself. Her grandchildren were heavily involved in the ceremony, serving as pages and helping carry her train. According to the Marchioness of Lansdowne, that only happened because the queen consort made sure her wishes were accounted for in the planning. "It was a big decision, but it's so much more fun to have them there by her side," she told The Times.

Furthermore, Lady Lansdowne revealed, Camilla had a hand in crafting the prestigious event's select guest list. "She is fiercely loyal to friends and that will be reflected in who goes to the big day," she said. "She wants to be loyal to the people who've stood by her."