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Who is Queen Camilla? All about King Charles' wife and Britain's new queen

London — Queen Camilla was once described as the most hated woman in Britain. In the 1990s, she was blamed for the breakdown of now-King Charles III's marriage to the late Princess Diana.

"I mean Camilla was… just inundated by paparazzi, who were pretty hostile, and went through her dust bins, her garbage bins," the soon-to-be queen's old friend, journalist Petronella Wyatt, told CBS News ahead of Charles and Camilla's May 6 coronation ceremony. "It was a very nasty time."

Things have changed significantly since then, Wyatt said. But there is still some tension with at least some other members of the royal family.

Prince Harry accuses Camilla of leaking stories 02:15

As a royal, Camilla has campaigned against domestic violence, winning plaudits for her compassion, but in his book, "Spare," her stepson Prince Harry accused her of burnishing her own popularity at his expense, even calling her "dangerous."

"I don't think she's entirely surprised, but a little bit hurt, because she was very, very nice to Harry," Wyatt said.

"I think that Camilla will do the job [of queen] brilliantly," Wyatt added. "She's always in a good mood. She's not stroppy and difficult. I think she'll shine quietly, while letting Charles be the star."

When did Charles and Camilla meet?

Camilla Parker Bowles grew up in an aristocratic family and was first romantically linked to Charles in the 1970s. The details of their first encounter have never been made clear, but they moved in the same circles, and various reports suggest they met at a party or a polo match.

But both Camilla and the young prince married other people. 

Princess Diana's revolution 02:20

Charles famously wed Diana Spencer, and Camilla married Andrew Parker Bowles, with whom she had two children. He is, according to Britain's Time newspaper, invited to attend the coronation, in which their grandchildren will be participating. 

Camilla's son Tom was born in 1974. King Charles is both his godfather and his step-father. Her daughter, Laura, was born in 1978.

How long have Charles and Camilla been married? 

Public attitudes towards Camilla have changed since the controversies surrounding Charles' relationship with Diana, and Charles and Camilla eventually made their relationship official, getting married in 2005. It was the first non-religious, civil ceremony ever for a British royal in England.

The Prince of Wales and his bride Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, at Windsor Castle April 9, 2005, after their wedding ceremony, with their families (from left): back row, Prince Harry, Prince William, Tom Parker Bowles and Laura Parker Bowles; front row, Duke of Edinburgh, H.M. The Queen Elizabeth II, and Major Bruce Shand (Camilla's father). Anwar Hussein Collection/ROTA/WireImage via Getty

But Wyatt says marrying into the royal family is not as glamorous as it might appear.

"It's like a prison. It's like a prison with palaces and bad plumbing and bad food," she said. "Most of it is very, very boring. Most of it is… shaking hands with not very interesting people."

What royal title will Camilla have, and why?

Early in 2022, Queen Elizabeth II — clearly wanting no doubt to linger over her intentions — said that when Charles did become king, it was her "sincere wish that, when that time comes, Camilla will be known as Queen Consort as she continues her own loyal service" to Britain.

Charles said in a statement that he and Camilla were "deeply conscious of the honor represented by my mother's wish."

Invitations to Charles and Camilla's May 6 coronation then revealed that Camilla would drop the "consort" from her title after the occasion and be known thereafter simply as Queen Camilla.

An image of the invitation to the coronation of King Charles III and his wife "Queen Camilla" was released by Buckingham Palace on April 4th, 2023. Buckingham Palace

While the "consort" title has traditionally been used for the spouse of a sitting British monarch, and "queen" alone has generally been used for a king or queen "regnant" — the formal title that conveys political power over the realm — the family can essentially make up its own rules on these matters. 

That's exactly what Charles appears to have done by signaling that Camilla will become simply Queen Camilla upon her coronation — though she will still hold no power as a non-birth member of the royal family, and a non-regnant queen.

What crown will Camilla wear?

On coronation day, Camilla will wear a modified version of the crown made for Queen Mary, who wore it when she and her husband, George V, were crowned in 1911. 

The Cullinan III, IV and V diamonds, from the late Queen Elizabeth II's personal collection, which she often wore as brooches, will be mounted on Queen Mary's Crown for Camilla's big day, instead of a very controversial stone that has featured in previous coronations. 

Crown Koh-i-noor Diamond
Queen Mary's Crown, as worn by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother in 1937. The crown, made of platinum, then contained the controversial Koh-i-noor diamond, along with other gems. The Koh-i-noor diamond has been removed for Queen Consort Camilla to wear the crown on the occasion of her coronation.  Tim Graham/Photo Library via Getty

Buckingham Palace confirmed in February that the Koh-i-Noor diamond would not play a part in King Charles and Camilla's coronation. The large diamond was given to Queen Victoria in 1849, but it is thought to have originated from India, and many Indians consider it a piece of their national history stolen during the reign of the British empire.  

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