A few years ago, people wondered if the day would ever come when Camilla might attain a reasonable degree of popularity. It seems that day is now when a new poll suggests 44 percent of the public consider her either an excellent or good Queen Consort.
A similar figure had no opinion either way. King Charles achieved much the same results.
It’s an improvement on the past for Camilla but much rests on the big boost she gained when the late Queen announced in her Accession Day message in February: “It is my sincere wish that, when that time comes, Camilla will be known as Queen Consort as she continues her own loyal service.”
The nation – and the Commonwealth – had so much deep respect for Elizabeth II that her wishes were honoured without question when Charles acceded.
At present, Charles – and to some extent Camilla – are riding a tide of public collective emotion following the loss of his much-loved mother.
This is the honeymoon period of his reign when people are prepared to give him a chance at proving himself as King, notwithstanding the odd mishap with pens.
Camilla has long been the nonnegotiable part of his life. The road from favoured mistress to wife to Queen Consort has been problematic.
Those with long memories will not forget the role she played in the breakdown of Charles’ and Diana’s marriage.
A fresh opportunity to revisit those times arrives next week with series five of The Crown, a dramatic interpretation of historic events, rather than a full battle re-enactment.
Yet there really was a “War of the Waleses” and Diana lost. And, after the new season of The Crown, there might be a dip in popularity polls as the events resurface.
But Camilla has been victorious through a relentless public relations drive to gain acceptance. Since their first orchestrated appearance in 1999, wave after wave of image – updating and rehabilitation of both Charles and Camilla – has resulted in the poll figures we see now.
No one can possibly disagree with the importance of the work she has undertaken.
Camilla has become a champion of literacy through her Instagram Reading Room; she has raised awareness and funds for the National Osteoporosis Society to highlight a disease suffered by her late mother; she has given hope to women sufferers of the “terrible hidden secret” of domestic abuse; she has spoken out against sexual violence and provided personally chosen washbags for rape victims.
Camilla is increasingly seen as a solid, reliable support for Charles, a mature woman with a down-to-earth personality who likes to get away from court life to her private home, Ray Mill House, a few days a week.
In May, Charles and Camilla will have their coronation but after that, when the honeymoon period is over, who knows what future polls will show.
- Analysis by Margaret Holder, Royal author