Meeting a parent’s new partner is bound to bring up a mix of emotions but it’s even tougher when you’re a member of the royal family.
Though Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall are now happily married, the beginning of their relationship was shrouded in scandal. Charles’ ex-wife Princess Diana infamously referred to Camilla as the third person in their marriage.
However, despite the drama it seems that Camilla has made a strong bond with Charles’ sons Prince William and Prince Harry.
A few short years after their parents’ divorce, Prince William and Prince Harry tragically lost their mother, Princess Diana, in 1997 when she was killed in a car crash.
But in June 1998 William was formally introduced to Camilla, followed shortly after by Harry.
In her book Prince William: Born to be King royal biographer Penny Junor said that William arrived at his flat at St James’s Palace, where Camilla was staying with Charles.
Charles immediately took Camilla up to William’s apartment and left her there alone with his son for half an hour.
According to the book, Camilla reportedly came out of the encounter saying, “I need a drink,” but says Camilla and William were pleasantly surprised by how well they got on.
“Despite the fact that it was less than a year since his mother’s death, William had been friendly and Camilla had been sensitive about his feelings,” Junor wrote.
“They met again for lunch a few days later and had tea a couple of times. Occasionally, she’d stay over when he was in London and have breakfast with him.”
Though William didn’t find Camilla as “poisonous” as he expected to (Diana reportedly referred to Camilla in private as ‘The Rottweiler’), Junor says he and Harry took “many years” to warm to her and weren’t seen in public with her until 2001.
“I think the relationship between them all is warm now but if I’m honest, it wasn’t then,” a palace insider told Junor. “I think they found it hard.
“I remember Harry being uncomfortable and saying something awkward. It was difficult for them; it was a natural thing. You want your mum — you don’t want her.
“To be fair to Camilla, she never tried to be mummy but she was the ‘other woman’ and she was there and taking daddy’s time. It wasn’t all happy families for quite a long time, but William was happy to see his father happy.”
However the brothers soon gave their blessing for their father to remarry and proudly stood by his side on his and Camilla’s 2005 wedding day.
Speaking to the press at the time of his 21st birthday, a few months after the big day, Prince Harry spoke warmly of his father’s wife, describing the Duchess of Cornwall as “a wonderful woman and she’s made our father very, very happy, which is the most important thing”.
“William and I love her to bits,” the redheaded royal added at the time.
“To be honest with you, she’s always been very close to me and William… but no, she’s not the wicked stepmother. I’ll say that right now.”
Prince William and Prince Harry, despite some reported clashes in earlier years, also have a strong bond with Camilla’s children, Tom Parker-Bowles and Laura Lopes, the latter of whom clashed with Prince William in the lead-up to Charles and Camilla’s wedding.
“When they stopped blaming one another’s parents and let go of their painful pasts, Laura and William got along well,” royal biographer Katie Nicholl wrote in her 2010 book Harry and William.
Both princes, as well as William’s then-girlfriend Kate Middleton, attended Laura’s wedding to chartered accountant Harry Lopes in 2006, and their daughter Eliza Lopes was one of the flower girls at the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding.
Following her Platinum Jubilee, the Queen publicly stated that it’s her wish that Camilla will be queen consort when Prince Charles becomes king.
“When, in the fullness of time, my son Charles becomes King, I know you will give him and his wife Camilla the same support that you have given me; and 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 Queen shared in a statement.
Whilst Harry and wife Meghan are yet to publicly respond, Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge shared their support for William’s stepmother by ‘liking’ the Queen’s statement on Instagram via their own Duke and Duchess of Cambridge account.