PRINCESS DIANA’S “shadow” looms over Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall as the “jury is still out” on Prince Charles’ wife as Queen Consort, a royal expert has claimed.
A new documentary delving into the life of Diana, Princess of Wales is coming to Sky Documentaries after debuting at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. ‘The Princess’ will air on Sunday ahead of the 25th anniversary of Diana’s death. It offers “an intimate and immersive look” into the life of the Princess of Wales through unseen footage, archived news clips and photographs.
While focusing on Diana’s life and involvement in the Royal Family, the documentary also explores the media and public’s obsession with the monarchy. Diana became a global icon in the years after she entered the royal fold. In the wake of her death in August 1997, the nation was grieving as they mourned ‘The People’s Princess’. The year before her death, Diana and Prince Charles’ divorce had been finalised. It came after four years of separation and a tumultuous, public battle between the couple. Both Charles and Diana’s extramarital affairs had been revealed and their relationship woes were delved into in unprecedented royal interviews.
Charles’ long-term girlfriend Camilla Parker Bowles soon became a villain in the eyes of the public. Described as the “most hated woman in Britain”, Camilla was often blamed for the breakdown of the Prince and Princess of Wales’ marriage. Upon their wedding day in 2005, it was decided that Camilla would not take on the title of Princess of Wales and would not be named Queen Consort upon Charles’ accession to the throne. However, in February, Queen Elizabeth II declared it was her “sincere wish” for Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall to become Queen Consort when Charles becomes king.
While the Queen has expressed her desire for her daughter-in-law to take on the new role, a royal expert has claimed the public may not be as on board. Appearing on this week’s episode of Pod Save The Queen, Ingrid Seward, editor-in-chief of Majesty magazine, claimed Diana’s shadow still looms and that the “jury is out” on Camilla as Queen Consort. When asked whether she thinks the public support the Queen’s decision, Ms Seward said: “I think the jury is out a little bit still. “I think the shadow of Diana is still very much there. I think probably quite a lot of people think: ‘We would really, really rather have a young Queen — this couple is just too old.’
“And, people still think: ‘She’s divorced, she’s the woman who had the affair with Prince Charles while Diana was still married to him’.” Ms Seward told the podcast’s host Zoe Forsey: “I don’t think that will ever go away. It will always be a stigma for her. “Obviously, the people who meet and know Camilla appreciate and love her, but most people don’t meet and know Camilla.” Since becoming a member of the Royal Family, Camilla has been at the centre of PR projects in an effort to increase her public popularity.
To mark her 75th year, the Duchess did her first interview and photoshoot for British Vogue as well as her special edition of Country Life which was accompanied by a documentary. With the Duchess’ 75th birthday and the Queen’s announcement, this year has seen Camilla become a more prominent member of the Firm. As the Queen has taken a step back, Charles and Camilla have given a glimpse into what the future of the monarchy will look like. But recent poll data suggests that a large percentage of Brits still have mixed feelings towards Camilla and Charles, particularly with Diana’s legacy of kindness and perception as a victim placing younger people on her side.
A YouGov poll places the Duchess of Cornwall as the eighth most popular royal in Britain, falling behind Queen Elizabeth II, Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, Princess Anne, Zara Tindall and Charles. The data shows that 40 per cent of those polled had positive views of Camilla, while 42 per cent had positive views of the Prince of Wales. Among those born 1946–1964, the number of people who have positive views of the Duchess increases to 42 percent, it increases to 43 percent among Generation X (born 1965–1980) voters and decreases to 37 percent among Millennials (born 1981–1995).
Appearing on Good Morning Britain in July, Newsweek’s chief royal correspondent, Jack Royston, said there is a new generation of Diana supporters “who feel just as strongly I think as people did back then,” referring to the Nineties which saw the breakdown of the Prince and Princess of Wales’ marriage and the revelations of their extramarital affairs. GMB host Susanna Reid started the conversation by suggesting the British public had moved on from the negative feeling toward Camilla. She argued: “The Queen has sort of anointed her future queen consort,” adding, “most people have forgotten about the breakdown of the marriage and they love her now.”
However, Mr Royston disagreed, citing the poll data and saying: “I don’t think they have moved on, to be completely honest with you. “You can see that in the polling that YouGov does, for example. People in the 1990s took Diana’s side in this dispute and actually the younger generations growing up now feel just as strongly I think as people did back then.” Mr Royston added: “They love Diana. They love the legacy that she left, her humanitarian streak, her warmth and kindness and they feel she was the victim of an injustice basically.
“That she was, to use Diana’s own words, ‘a lamb to the slaughter’ when she married Charles.” He concluded that Charles marrying Diana, introducing her to the demands of royal life at the young age of 20 and later having an affair with Camilla is what people today continue to raise a problem with. The Duchess has rarely spoken about her experiences during the Nineties and has never publicly spoken about Diana.
In her recent interview with Vogue, Camilla addressed the negative attention and revealed how she has managed to deal with it. She admitted: “It’s not easy…I was scrutinised for such a long time that you just have to find a way to live with it. “Nobody likes to be looked at all the time and, you know, criticised …But I think in the end, I sort of rise above it and get on with it. You’ve got to get on with life.”