Royals

Camilla’s winning moves

Camilla charms at a reception, showing the public the woman who stole Charles’ heart.

By Judy Kean
It’s not that long ago that it was rare for the words “charming” and “Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall”, to appear in the same sentence. When she first joined Britain’s most famous family, Camilla was not known for her ability to enchant members of the public she met while carrying out official engagements, unlike some other royals. Still finding her feet in her role as the wife of the heir to the throne, the duchess also had to overcome the public’s perception of her as the homewrecker who broke up Prince Charles’ marriage to Diana, Princess of Wales.
Now 10 years after she wed Charles (66), charm is a totally appropriate word to use in conjunction with Camilla (68). She has settled into her royal role with ease, carrying out her duties while managing to stay down-to-earth and friendly.
The duchess’ attendance at the VJ Day celebrations in London last week is a case in point. Other senior members of the royal family, including the Queen and Charles, were at various events held throughout the day, but it was Camilla who had elderly war veterans grinning with delight as she chatted animatedly with them. She even joined 94-year-old Jim Booth for a quick twirl around the dance floor and appeared to be enjoying herself.
Prince Charles and Camilla at the VJ Day Drumhead Service.
The official church service and parade marked the 70th anniversary of victory over Japan at the end of World War II and commemorated all the servicemen who lost their lives in the conflict. It was suitably solemn, but Camilla helped to lighten the mood at a garden party held afterwards.
As well as dancing with Jim, she crouched down to chat with other veterans and their families, and won them over with her thoughtful questions and genuine interest in the role they played in the war. Tim Boardman (97), who was held prisoner by the Japanese for more than three years, chatted to the duchess about his experiences and said afterwards, “She’s very nice, isn’t she? I’m very impressed.”
The duchess got a rather different response when she attended the events marking the 65th anniversary of VJ Day five years ago. She may have been trying to appear sombre, but she just looked awkward and uncomfortable. She was also criticised for wearing a pink coat and hat for the occasion, with people deriding her online for showing up in an outfit better suited to a wedding or a day at the races.
“Doesn’t she understand what is being commemorated?” wrote one. “She should be wearing something more appropriate – not pink.”
At this year’s celebrations, Camilla – who will be travelling to New Zealand in November with Charles (66) for her second visit here – looked stylish in a green dress and hat.
Camilla’s pink outfit was criticised five years ago.
Royal insiders say Camilla is becoming more comfortable when it comes to carrying out official duties and that in turn helps Charles to relax, because he doesn’t have to worry about how she is coping.
Charles has said getting used to the exposure that comes with being a member of the royal family has come as a challenge to his wife. “But she’s, I think, been brilliant in the way she tackles these things.”
The public is getting to see more of the real Camilla, says a source. “She is warm, smiley and sincere,” they say. “If you were going to use five phrases or words to describe her, they would be funny, down-to-earth, opinionated, family-oriented and hearty.”