The new issue of Vanity Fair is all about the British royal family. VF has launched a new royal podcast too, called Dynasty, and it looks like Katie Nicholl is back in the VF fold (she hasn’t been writing too many VF exclusives in recent years). One of the pieces in the VF royal cover story is “How Camilla Became a Queen (Consort) for the Modern Era.” Nicholl wrote it, and it’s amazing to watch Nicholl try to pour sugar on Camilla’s history of messiness. They all want to make Camilla sound like the keenest diplomat ever, the most loving wife, the most stabilizing force the monarchy has ever had, and nevermind the fact that she has this torrid history as a mistress and homewrecker. I mean, lots of people have messy romantic histories, but “most people” aren’t trying to whitewash their histories before they become Queen Consort. Some highlights from this VF piece:
Queen Camilla was not inevitable: “There was no inevitability about the duchess becoming queen consort,” says Patrick Harrison, who worked in the press office at Clarence House for 14 years and coordinated media plans for Charles and Camilla’s wedding. “I’m personally thrilled for her because she has worked so hard and really hasn’t put a foot wrong. She would say, ‘I do it because I love the boss, it’s my job to be there by his side,’ but she has done so much more than that. She is absolutely devoted to the Prince of Wales and to the institution and takes her royal role and duties incredibly seriously. She understands the benefits and the challenges that go with that.”
Camilla is family first: Her “family first” motto has rubbed off on Charles, who speaks to Prince William almost every day on the phone and is closer than ever to his mother. Behind palace doors, sources say, the duchess has also been instrumental in trying to heal the fractured relationship between Charles and Prince Harry. “The situation with Harry was upsetting for all the family, and we mustn’t forget that they are a family,” says a friend. “I know that Camilla did her best and was a tremendous sounding post and support for Charles, who was deeply troubled.”
Camilla tried to help Harry & Meghan: This friend points out what a difficult road Camilla has had with the press, and how she was ostracized by the family. “She threw a hand of friendship out to Harry and Meghan at various points. When Meghan was going through a difficult time with her own father, Camilla helped navigate things. It was Camilla who told Charles that walking Meghan up the aisle was the right thing to do. She’s a very family-oriented woman, and she really wanted to help.”
The Queen has given Camilla every honor: Publicly, the queen has bestowed every honor on Camilla, from the Royal Family Order, given at the queen’s discretion as a reward for service, to the Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order. The Duchess of Cornwall is also now a member of the Privy Council, the Queen’s most senior advisory body and which plays an important part in the accession ceremonies of a new sovereign. In 2021 it was announced that Camilla was to be invested into the Order of the Garter, the greatest accolade of all. According to another friend of the duchess, the garter was “the one thing she really wanted, because it is such an enormous privilege. Camilla was absolutely thrilled about it.” Says historian Hugo Vickers: “Everybody wants the garter. It was the Princess of Wales’s secret wish too.”
Camilla’s style: “The duchess has really found her style,” says Fiona Clare, Camilla’s dresser, who has been designing for her nearly 10 years. “I wouldn’t say she is into clothes, but she has found her niche. She is very elegant and she knows what works. Her staples are dresses, frock coats, and great hats. She’s got a wonderful core team around her with people she trusts and knows will make her look good.”
Camilla plans to keep her private home: Camilla has decided she will keep Ray Mill, her Wiltshire home, when she is queen, so that she has a bolt-hole to escape the rigidity and scrutiny of palace life. At her home she can potter around in a dressing gown, cook for her family, and relax. She makes a point of factoring in time for herself in order to maintain a healthy work-life balance—walking, reading, holidaying in Scotland, and being with her family. She loves swimming, especially in the sea in Cornwall, where she and Charles vacation. And she loves to cook and makes a mean roast chicken, according to Tom.
I don’t understand the need for a Queen Consort to “never put a foot wrong.” That’s Kate’s branding too, and it’s asinine for both women, considering they’ve both f–ked up many times. But why do people want to believe that these future queens have never, ever made a mistake? Especially when it’s so obvious that Kate and Camilla are extremely flawed people who f–k up all the time? As for the stuff about Camilla and the Sussexes… it’s interesting and it’s completely different from what Camilla’s biographer said just a few months ago.
As Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her platinum jubilee, the royal family is struggling to redefine itself in a new era. For V.F.’s May cover story, @KatieNicholl examines the monarchy's future.
— VANITY FAIR (@VanityFair) April 19, 2022
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.