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How Camilla has revamped her public image, according to royal insiders

She was once dubbed ‘Britain’s most hated woman’, believed to have been the person driving a wedge between Prince Charles and Princess Diana.

But Camilla Parker Bowles has been on a stealthy mission to change the public’s perception of her – and by all accounts she’s succeeded. 

Earlier this year royal expert Phil Dampier went so far as to say the Duchess of Cornwall is ‘now quite popular’, adding: ‘I think most people will accept her as Queen when the time comes.’ 

Camilla Shand, now 71, met Charles, now 70, in the summer of 1971 and, according to royal biographer Penny Juror, the prince was instantly taken with her – particularly because she was ‘not in anyway overawed by him, not fawning or sycophantic’.

She was once dubbed ‘Britain’s most hated woman’, but it seems the Duchess of Cornwall, pictured standing between the wings of artist Paul Curtis’ mural entitled For All Liverpool’s Liver Birds, is now ‘quite popular’

But the couple were prevented from marrying then as Camilla was deemed ‘unsuitable’, with an insufficiently aristocratic background – despite her maternal grandfather being a baron.

Camilla went on to marry Andrew Parker Bowles, with whom she has two children, but the couple split in 1995 after 22 years of marriage. She married Charles in April 2005 in a civil ceremony at Windsor Guildhall. 

Since becoming a fully-fledged member of The Firm, Camilla has endeavoured to do right by her husband and the British public.

And her efforts haven’t gone unnoticed, with Dampier claiming people have ‘warmed’ to Camilla – and indeed her husband. 

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall smile as they prepare a mojito during a visit to a paladar called Habanera in Havana, Cuba, earlier this year

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall smile as they prepare a mojito during a visit to a paladar called Habanera in Havana, Cuba, earlier this year

Grinning Camilla stands between singing legends Lionel Richie and Tom Jones during her and Charles' Caribbean tour in March

Grinning Camilla stands between singing legends Lionel Richie and Tom Jones during her and Charles’ Caribbean tour in March

Here FEMAIL takes a look at how the Duchess of Cornwall has quietly revamped her public image and injected a sense of fun into the royal family.  

Bringing out Charles’ fun side 

Much has been said about Camilla’s sense of humour, with former boyfriend Kevin Burke once describing her as ‘never tongue-tied or shy’ and always having ‘something amusing’ to say.

It seems her enthusiasm is infectious; once buttoned-up and serious, public-facing Charles now regularly grins and laughs with Camilla by his side. On a visit to Canada, the couple famously dissolved into giggles while watching traditional Iniot throat singers perform.

Camilla Shand, 71, met Charles, 70, in the summer of 1971 and, according to royal biographer Penny Juror, the prince was instantly taken with her - particularly because she was 'not in anyway overawed by him, not fawning or sycophantic'

Camilla Shand, 71, met Charles, 70, in the summer of 1971 and, according to royal biographer Penny Juror, the prince was instantly taken with her – particularly because she was ‘not in anyway overawed by him, not fawning or sycophantic’

Charles and Camilla married in April 2005 in a civil ceremony at Windsor Guildhall

Charles and Camilla married in April 2005 in a civil ceremony at Windsor Guildhall

Robert Jobson, author of Charles at Seventy, said his wife brings him ‘balance’, adding: ‘She has a great sense of humour. As a result he’s smiley and laughing.’

Camilla certainly comes across as genuine, with a longtime friend once describing her as ‘100 per cent sure of who she is’.

‘She had no side, no complexity,’ they said. ‘She is warm, witty, endlessly cheerful and has the ability to laugh at everything and tease Charles out of his Eeyore grumpiness.’

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, share a joke at the Mey Highland Games at Queens Park in Caithness, Scotland in 2008

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, share a joke at the Mey Highland Games at Queens Park in Caithness, Scotland in 2008

Secret engagements 

You certainly can’t accuse the Duchess of being work-shy. As patron or president of more than 90 charities, she carried out 219 engagements in 2018, including 70 during overseas tours. 

She and Charles recently made a historic visit to Cuba during a 13-day tour across 10 islands, cramming 50 engagements into their schedule. 

Lynn Faulds Wood, a British television personality, bowel cancer survivor and ambassador for the Royal Osteoporosis Society (ROS), said she thinks Camilla is ‘fabulous’ and great at bringing the causes she champions to the people’s attention. 

The Duchess of Cornwall, pictured listening to Diana Parkes whose daughter Joanna Brown was murdered by her husband, during a visit to the national charity SafeLives in Londo, often carries out 'secret visits'

The Duchess of Cornwall, pictured listening to Diana Parkes whose daughter Joanna Brown was murdered by her husband, during a visit to the national charity SafeLives in Londo, often carries out ‘secret visits’

But Camilla continues to work tirelessly behind the scenes, paying secret visits that don’t garner any publicity according to Faulds Wood, suggesting a genuine care in her work. 

Claire Severgnini, chief executive of the ROS, said the Duchess always goes the extra mile to ‘meet the health professionals and the scientists and the academics behind the scenes’.

The ROS is an organisation close to Camilla’s heart, having lost her mother Rosalind to the bone disease in 1994.

Friendly and approachable  

Veteran royal reporter Jennie Bond once said she had a ‘great deal of time for Camilla’, and this attitude is shared by a great deal of journalists and photographers, reports Town and Country.

One anonymous reporter described Camilla as ‘my favorite royal, by a country mile’, adding: ‘She knows all our names, she fosters a sense that we’re all in this together. She always gives you a little gleam in her eye and will find a moment to look at our cameras.’

Camilla 'always gives you a little gleam in her eye and will find a moment to look at our cameras', according to one royal reporter

Camilla ‘always gives you a little gleam in her eye and will find a moment to look at our cameras’, according to one royal reporter

On one official visit to a vineyard in Crete, Jobson recalled the Duchess inviting him to ‘sit down and join in with the cheese and wine’.  

Coming across as down-to-earth without any airs and graces has arguably gone a long way towards boosting her public image. 

Sensitive approach towards Princess Diana

Although Camilla is technically the Princess of Wales, she has chosen not to use that title due to its close association with Princess Diana. 

She opts to go by the Duchess of Cornwall, despite her full official title being Her Royal Highness The Princess Charles Philip Arthur George, Princess of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall, Duchess of Rothesay, Countess of Chester, Countess of Carrick, Baroness of Renfrew, Lady of the Isles, Princess of Scotland, Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order.  

Camilla, pictured with Lady Diana Spencer at Ludlow Races in 1980, has chosen not to use the title Princess of Wales due to its close association with Charles' first wife

Camilla, pictured with Lady Diana Spencer at Ludlow Races in 1980, has chosen not to use the title Princess of Wales due to its close association with Charles’ first wife

Eradicating ‘wicked stepmother’ image

It’s clear Prince William and Harry have no ill-feeling towards their father’s wife, having greeted her warmly with kisses on both cheeks at a recent Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey.

Even at 21, when Harry was battling to cope in the wake of his mother’s death, he said Camilla is ‘not the wicked stepmother’, adding: ‘She’s a wonderful woman and she’s made my father very, very happy.’

It's clear Prince William, pictured during the opening ceremony of the Invictus Games at the Queen Elizabeth Park in September 2014, and his brother Harry have no ill-feeling towards their father's wife

It’s clear Prince William, pictured during the opening ceremony of the Invictus Games at the Queen Elizabeth Park in September 2014, and his brother Harry have no ill-feeling towards their father’s wife

The fact William and Kate chose one of her granddaughters, Eliza Lopez, as a bridesmaid for their 2011 wedding demonstrated to the public that Camilla is very much an important fixture in their family.

Providing support to Meghan 

One of the people to welcome Meghan Markle to the royal family with open arms was Camilla.

She and Charles have formed a solid friendship with Prince Harry’s wife, with the Duchess of Cornwall going all out to ‘support’ and be ‘very helpful’ to Meghan according to a close family friend, reports Vanity Fair. 

Charles and Camilla have formed a solid friendship with Prince Harry's wife Meghan, with the Duchess of Cornwall going all out to 'support' and be 'very helpful' to Meghan according to a close family friend

Charles and Camilla have formed a solid friendship with Prince Harry’s wife Meghan, with the Duchess of Cornwall going all out to ‘support’ and be ‘very helpful’ to Meghan according to a close family friend

With the overwhelming popularity of Meghan and Harry among the British public – evident by their rapidly growing 4.3million Instagram followers – Camilla’s apparent affection for the new duchess is bound to curry favour. 

Helping victims of sexual violence 

After speaking to survivors of sexual assault in 2013, Camilla decided to put this topic firmly on the agenda, reports Town and Country.

The idea of dishing out bags with toiletries to victims to use after medical examinations was her idea, and while on an engagement in Liverpool last month she paid a visit to a women’s refuge, armed with books, biscuits and jam for the children. 

The Duchess of Cornwall, pictured in 2015, holds a cosmetic bag created for sexual abuse survivors to use after they have been through medical examinations

The Duchess of Cornwall, pictured in 2015, holds a cosmetic bag created for sexual abuse survivors to use after they have been through medical examinations

‘She seemed to have an understanding of what faces them and wanted clarification on how schooling effects the children that come in here, can the clients come back once they have left the refuge,’ said a project worker of her visit.

‘She definitely did seem to understand the issues that are faced.’

Maintains her independence

Despite having a permanent residence with Charles at Clarence House, Camilla still keeps her own home – Ray Mill House in Wiltshire – and frequently spends weekends there with her children and five grandchildren.

She and Charles often spend time apart, with Camilla reverting to the informality of her life before the royal family by tending to her garden, seeing her friends and spending time with her family. 

Not living in each other’s pockets could well be the secret to their happy relationship. 

One of Camilla's five grandchildren, Eliza Lopez, pictured in the arms of Charles, was a bridesmaid at William and Kate's wedding in 2011

One of Camilla’s five grandchildren, Eliza Lopez, pictured in the arms of Charles, was a bridesmaid at William and Kate’s wedding in 2011

Winning The Queen’s approval

When Camilla and Charles married, she was bestowed with the title Princess Consort.

Camilla’s title Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall was awarded to her as a wedding gift from her new mother-in-law, the Queen. 

Her majesty went a step further in 2016, making Camilla a member of the Privy Council – her most senior advisory body.

Camilla, pictured standing beside the Queen on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to watch a flypast to mark the centenary of the Royal Air Force in July 2018

Camilla, pictured standing beside the Queen on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to watch a flypast to mark the centenary of the Royal Air Force in July 2018

This shows a clear regard for her daughter-in-law and will enable Camilla to be ‘in the room’ when Charles is proclaimed king.

Whether Camilla will become Queen Consort remains to be seen, but according to Jobson, it’s a done deal. 

‘She will most definitely be Queen Consort,’ he said. ‘There’s absolutely no question about that.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk