The Truth About Kate Middleton And Camilla Parker Bowles' Relationship

Much English breakfast tea has been spilled about Kate Middleton's relationship with Meghan Markle and whether the queen likes the Duchess of Cambridge, as Kate is officially known. But what about Kate's relationship with another high-profile royal lady – Camilla Parker Bowles, the wife of Prince Charles?

Although seemingly complete opposites in many ways, Kate and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, actually have a lot in common. Most significantly, they are both married to future kings. And with that comes all the trappings and privileges of royal life that no one outside of the royal family can truly understand. The other important thing that links them together is Prince William. His father, Prince Charles, married Camilla in 2005, after a long-term affair that lasted throughout his first marriage to the late Diana, Princess of Wales. And although no one could ever replace Diana, of course, Prince William has developed a relationship with his stepmother over the years, and she is now very much a part of his life — and therefore Kate's as well.

And while every woman wants to get along with her in-laws, it's safe to say they don't have the typical dynamic between most mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law. But what goes on behind closed palace doors? Here's the truth about the relationship between Kate Middleton and Camilla Parker Bowles.

Camilla Parker Bowles reportedly did not want Prince William to marry Kate Middleton

Kate Middleton met Prince William in 2001 when they were both students at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland (via CBS News). They started off as friends, and by 2004, they were officially dating. A couple of years after that, she was attending high-profile events as William's girlfriend, including the wedding of Camilla Parker Bowles' daughter, Laura, in 2006, according to Hola! USA.

Camilla might not have been quite as smitten as William, however. In his book "Game of Crowns," author Christopher Andersen wrote that Camilla referred to Kate as "pretty but dim" and deemed her too low in status to become a royal (via The Sun). Kate's commoner parents, Michael and Carole, run a mail-order party supply company (via Harper's Bazaar). Camilla, on the other hand, was a member of the aristocracy even before she married Prince Charles. 

But there may have been more at play than just snobbery. According to Andersen, Camilla was jealous of Kate's public popularity. "Young, gracious, smart, and stunning, the White Queen, known familiarly as just plain Kate, captured the world's imagination even before she could officially lay claim to her royal lover's heart," he wrote in the book, even though "she lacked both the pedigree and the experience" of Camilla. 

Camilla gave Kate advice before her marriage to Prince William

As things between Kate Middleton and Prince William grew more serious, it seems Camilla brushed aside any hard feelings that may have existed. She apparently even went so far as to give the future Duchess of Cambridge advice on how to hold onto her man amid all the pressures of royal duty. And Camilla would know: Before her current relationship with Prince Charles, she had originally dated him decades before (via Good Housekeeping), only to see it end when Charles was sent overseas to serve in the royal navy.

After Will and Kate graduated from college, the prince was expected to assume more official royal duties. At the same time, he was training to be a helicopter pilot in the Royal Air Force. "After St Andrews University, William's timetable was proving rather un-fit-roundable," Robert Lacey wrote in his book "Battle of Brothers: William, Harry and the Inside Story of a Family in Tumult." At the time, the book noted, "marriage had not been included in that schedule" (via Express). 

Camilla urged Kate to be patient and, as Lacey wrote, gave Kate the following advice: "Fit your timetable — well, basically your whole life — around his" (via the Mirror). It seems Kate took it to heart, and Prince William eventually proposed in 2010.

Camilla Parker Bowles helped Kate Middleton plan her wedding

Kate Middleton's 2011 royal wedding to Prince William at Westminster Abbey was always going to be a massive event. While such a ceremony requires a team of planners, Camilla Parker Bowles still had important tips to share: While her marriage to Prince Charles was grand, her first wedding to Andrew Parker Bowles had, according to Express, been declared "the society wedding of the year" back in 1973. 

In the weeks before Kate's wedding, the two women were seen enjoying a long lunch at the Berkeley Hotel in London. Joined by Kate's sister, Pippa, and Camilla's daughter, Laura Lopes, the ladies reportedly chatted about everything from meal options to music choices. As another restaurant-goer told the Daily Mail, "I did hear talk of trumpets and someone said 'we can't have trumpets, the ceiling is too high.'" Later on, he said, "I heard chipolatas, sausages on sticks and mini pizzas, but I don't know whether it was ironic or not."

Camilla Parker Bowles gave Kate Middleton this special wedding gift

What do you give a queen on their wedding day? After all, she has everything a person could ever need (and then some). 

According to PopSugar, Kate Middleton's brother, James, gave the happy couple their Cocker Spaniel puppy Lupo, but most of her royal relatives stuck to a more traditional go-to: jewelry. Prince Charles gifted her a matching set of a bracelet, earrings, and ring, according to Express. Before their wedding, her then husband-to-be gave her sapphire and diamond earrings, as Hello! noted, to match her engagement ring (itself basically a present from Prince Harry, who had inherited it from his mother, Diana).

Camilla Parker Bowles also celebrated the relationship with a bauble, Marie Claire reported. She gave Kate a gold bracelet featuring a round charm with two engraved C's topped by small crowns, or coronets: one for Camilla and one for Catherine, Kate's full name. 

Kate and Camilla always sit together during Trooping of the Colour

There's nothing like family get-togethers to catch up on how everyone's doing. Each June, Kate Middleton and Camilla Parker Bowles share a carriage ride to the Trooping of the Colour, a spectacular celebration that has been held for more than 260 years to mark the reigning sovereign's birthday. Crowds line the London streets to watch the procession, which features 1,400 soldiers, 200 horses, and 400 musicians. It begins at Buckingham Palace and ends at the Horse Guard's Parade ground at Whitehall. Senior members of the royal family travel the route either on horseback or in a horse-drawn carriage. Eventually everyone returns to Buckingham Palace and gathers on a balcony for the big finale: the RAF fly-past. 

As Good Housekeeping explained, protocol dictates that Kate and Camilla arrive in the same carriage, while their husbands ride separately on horses in honor of their ceremonial roles as Colonels of the Household Division for different army regiments. Prince William is Colonel of the Irish Guards and Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, is Colonel of the Welsh Guards. According to People, Prince Harry, who lacks such a title, used to ride with Kate and Camilla before he moved to the United States. 

Kate Middleton's behavior toward Camilla Parker Bowles hasn't been perfect

Kate Middleton is usually the picture of poise, but even the best of us slip up every now and again. She has been called out at least two times for perceived slights against Camilla Parker Bowles, whether they were intentional or not.

The first time was in 2018, when Camilla was on the receiving end of Kate's famous expressive eyes during the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at St. George's Chapel. The two women were seated beside each other, and at one point, Kate appeared to shoot some side-eye in Camilla's direction (via Good Housekeeping). Perhaps she was unwrapping a particularly loud candy?

A year later, Kate and Camilla attended the Order of the Garter along with other royals. At one point, Kate was having a lively conversation with Queen Letizia of Spain, while Camilla stood nearby with her back turned to them. Then, when Camilla turned around and tried to join in the conversation, she was left hanging for a few moments as the two younger royals appeared to ignored her (via the Mirror). Awkward. 

There may be tension between Kate and Camilla over who gets to be the next queen

Boy meets girl, boy becomes king, girl becomes queen — right? In fairy tales, perhaps, but in real life, it's not so simple. 

Because the divorced Camilla Parker Bowles is the second wife of Prince Charles, it was decided upon their marriage that her title would become Her Royal Highness The Princess Consort when he takes the throne, which would mean that Kate Middleton would officially be the next queen of England. Or at least that's what everyone thought until an answer about Camilla's future title disappeared from the FAQ section of Prince Charles' website, as The Telegraph reported. 

The official explanation for the information being removed online was that, "Frequently Asked Questions are updated regularly. This is one question that Clarence House has not been asked by the public for some time, which is why it no longer features." But Sally Bedell Smith, author of the "Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life," said Prince Charles dislikes the "made-up" title and will make Camilla queen consort, the traditional term for the wife of a reigning king (via Harper's Bazaar). So will Camilla or Kate be the next queen? Only time will tell.

Kate Middleton and Camilla Parker Bowles support each other publicly

No matter what may be going on in private, Kate Middleton and Camilla Parker Bowles have displayed a fondness for their relationship in public.

When Camilla's brother died unexpectedly in 2014, Kate and William were touring New Zealand and Australia. But despite a hectic schedule, the couple made sure to express their condolences, issuing a statement that read (via Us Weekly), "The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were saddened to learn this morning of the tragic death of Mark Shand. Their thoughts are with the Duchess of Cornwall and her family at this time." In happier days, Kate showed her affection toward Camilla's entire family by making her granddaughter Eliza a flower girl in her wedding party (via Hello!). 

And while the royals are famously tight-lipped about each other, Camilla did share a rave review of Kate prior to her marrying Prince William. "Kate's a lovely girl," CBS reported Camilla said during an event at the Covent Garden Academy of Flowers. "We're very lucky." Camilla and Prince Charles even posted a touching message to their Clarence House Instagram account to mark Kate's 39th birthday. "Happy Birthday to The Duchess of Cambridge!" it read. In the land of the stiff upper lip, an exclamation mark has to count for something!

Camilla Parker Bowles and Kate Middleton both know what it's like to be tabloid fodder

It's no secret the British press can be vicious toward the royal family. Prince Harry even cited it as a reason he left England and moved to California with Meghan Markle.

During her long courtship with Prince William, Kate Middleton was dubbed "Waity Katy," in reference to how she continued to put up with the prince's reluctance to get engaged. She was routinely photographed by intrusive paparazzi and scorned for her middle-class upbringing, with that criticism extending to her family: Her mother was once vilified for chewing gum at an event. Even after her marriage, it didn't stop, with topless photos of Kate on a yacht being published by a French tabloid. One article in Tatler criticized her weight and reported Kate felt "trapped," amid other claims (via Express). 

Still, Camilla Parker Bowles arguably had it worse. Her affair with Prince Charles means she has long been disliked by the British public and press, as The Guardian noted.

Kate Middleton and Camilla Parker Bowles share a good-natured sense of humor

When you attend hundreds of public events a year, something is bound to go wrong. Fortunately, both Kate Middleton and Camilla Parker Bowles are able to laugh at life's mishaps. One such moment occurred at the 2019 Trooping of the Colour, when Prince Louis, Kate's youngest son who was just over a year old at the time, got a little too excited waving his arms about and nearly knocked Camilla's hat off (via Hello!). But no need to panic: Both mom and grandma found it funny. At a previous fly-past in 2018, this time to mark the 100th anniversary of the RAF, Prince Charles had a wardrobe malfunction involving his jacket. Charles, Kate, and William had a good laugh about it as Camilla managed to sort the issue (via Good Housekeeping).

Both women are known to be quite funny in private, as well, and at least one royal observer said the ability to see the lighter side of life helped strengthen their relationship with each other. "They are two very normal people. Camilla is so easy to get on with, so un-stuck-up. And Kate is young and friendly," Penny Junor, an expert on the royal family, told Maclean's magazine.  

Megxit may have brought Kate Middleton and Camilla Parker Bowles closer together

Both Kate Middleton and Camilla Parker Bowles have been caught up in Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's criticisms of the royal family. In the explosive Oprah Winfrey interview, Meghan said it was Kate who made her cry during a pre-wedding argument about flower girl dresses, as opposed to the other way around as it was reported in the press. And while Vanity Fair reported that Camilla tried to advise Meghan on how to deal with the pressures of royal life, a source told the Daily Mail that Megan blames both her and Kate for leaking negative stories to the press. "There is an active role that the Firm is playing in perpetuating falsehoods about us," Meghan said to Winfrey, using a term for the royal family.

In practical terms, the departure of Harry and Meghan meant the remaining royals had to pick up more duties. Prince Charles, Prince William, Kate, and Camilla made a rare joint appearance — their first together in nine years — laughing and appearing to enjoy each other's company at medical rehabilitation center in England in 2020. The outing led some in the media, including ET, to dub the group the "new Fab four," a riff on the Beatles nickname that was previously used to describe Harry, Meghan, Kate, and William.

Camilla Parker Bowles and Kate Middleton have this 'naughty' vice in common

Let them eat cake? Camilla Parker Bowles and Kate Middleton are happy to do it themselves! The two royals enjoy making desserts and are unapologetic about having a sweet tooth. On the TV special "A Berry Royal Christmas," Kate told host Mary Berry that she always makes her children's birthday cakes (via Hello!). "I love making the cake," she said. "It's become a bit of a tradition that I stay up 'til midnight with ridiculous amounts of cake mix and icing." 

And Camilla has serious skills of her own. While serving at the Royal Voluntary Service Lunch Club, she decorated trifles with whipped topping and raspberries (via the Standard). She also shared a favorite chocolate biscuit cake recipe for people to try during lockdown (via Yahoo! Life).

Of course, getting to enjoy dessert without having to make it is even more fun, and Kate and Camilla couldn't stop themselves from sampling an array of sweets during a visit to the decadent Fortnum & Mason store with Queen Elizabeth. According to Us Weekly, Kate said, "Oh, I love chocolate," as she surveyed what she called the "naughty" chocolate counter, and Camilla exclaimed, "What a treat!" while sampling jelly beans. "They thoroughly enjoyed the visit," a source said. 

Kate Middleton and Camilla Parker Bowles join forces for charity

Public service is an important part of royal life. Both Kate Middleton and Camilla Parker Bowles support several charities, using their fame to raise attention for worthy causes. Camilla is the patron or president of more than 90 charities, many of which focus on assisting the elderly, abused women, and the arts. Kate has far less, with 21 patronages, but that's understandable given that she is also raising three young kids.

And it was children that brought Kate and Camilla together when they participated in a Zoom call in support of Children's Hospice Week in 2020, as reported by Vanity Fair. Both royals talked about how heartening they found the work done at children's hospices, which provide support for families facing a terminal illness. "When I arrived I was totally amazed by what I found, the feeling of warmth and laughter and happiness," Camilla said of one of her early visits. "It's an uplifting experience ..." Kate followed up by saying, "It's a credit to the staff ... It's really inspiring."

Kate and Camilla also displayed their close relationship by working side by side, along with the queen, at a party promoting the Big Lunch program and its involvement with the queen's Platinum Jubilee (via People). The festivities included a large cake, so we're betting Kate and Camilla enjoyed a slice or two together.