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Camilla Gains Acceptance

Once scorned as "the other woman" in the British royal family, Camilla Parker-Bowles is slowly being accepted by the British people as a companion to the future King of England.

Parker-Bowles, 51, has long been vilified as the mistress of Prince Charles and the woman responsible for much of Princess Diana's heartache.

"I've had a lot of hostile mail about her," said Mary Kenny, columnist for the Express, "calling her some very rude names indeed."
The late princess alluded to the problem herself in a now-famous interview in which she said there were three people in her marriage.

In the year since Diana's death, Parker-Bowles has reportedly been a huge comfort to the grieving prince and has become acquainted with Charles' and Diana's two sons.

"William must read the papers," Kenny said. "He knows this woman is his father's companion. So it's inevitable and quite natural that he should meet her."

The British public, as well, has begun to accept the idea of Parker-Bowles as companion to the heir to the throne. But those crowds, many of whom still are mourning Diana's death, draw the line at the thought of Parker-Bowles becoming Charles' wife and possibly the future queen of England.

For that reason, says Angela Conner, a sculptor who is a friend of the two, Prince Charles and Parker-Bowles are trying to slowly create a life together that the world can accept. "They don't want to rush into anything," Conner says.

There could be be problems if the two should decide to marry. There is no legal impediment to their marriage, but as king, Charles would head the Church of England, which is critical of divorce and divorcees, such as Charles and Parker-Bowles. Church leaders might find their marriage unacceptable.

However, there are increasing signs that such a marriage would not be out of the question for some Britons. One important newspaper already had led the way, saying in its headline "Why Don't You Get Married?"

"I don't think they will be in any hurry to," said Dr. David Starkey, a British constitutional historian. "I'm not sure that Camilla Parker-Bowles wishes to. But there there is no doubt that what would have been impossible a year ago - a marriage between Charles and Camilla could now happen."