Low-key Camilla Parker Bowles, who first met her fiancé, Prince Charles, more than 30 years ago on a windy polo field, isn’t the classic picture of a future princess. Yet the era of Camilla is dawning, and it couldn’t be more different from the Princess Diana decades. The news Thursday that Prince Charles finally popped the question to his companion sent royal watchers into a tizzy and the anti-Camilla crowd howling.
The wedding is going to be an ultradiscreet, private affair at Windsor Castle on April 8. After a civil ceremony, the Archbishop of Canterbury will preside over a service of prayer and dedication at the castle’s St. George’s Chapel.
Camilla will officially become a member of the royal family (women will have to curtsy before her), although, for obvious reasons, she won’t be referred to as the Princess of Wales. Her new title will be HRH The Duchess of Cornwall (just one of the scads of unused titles the Windsor family has lying around for just such purposes). If and when Charles becomes king, she’ll be called HRH The Princess Consort.
Duchess or not, Camilla-watchers insist her style will stubbornly remain the same.
“She’s not a glamour-puss,” says salon owner Jo Hansford, who, for more than 20 years, has watched a freshly shampooed Camilla grab a blow-drier to do the styling herself.
“I don’t think we’ll see a cropped hairstyle, or a Sharon Stone look in the future,” says Hansford with a laugh. “Camilla is not going to change for anyone. She’ll continue to be herself.”
She certainly has up until now. While Parker Bowles is more made up and polished today than she was a few years ago, she hasn’t exactly turned into a red-carpet siren. She increasingly poses for the paparazzi, but there is no sense she dresses for the occasion, as the late Diana did.
Her detractors may call her dowdy, frumpy or simply unattractive, but they somehow miss the point. As Valentino says, “Her style is so English that it cannot be changed. Even when she wears my clothes she has the laid-back attitude of someone who doesn’t care about fashion.”
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