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The woman always close to Charles

From CNN's Becky Anderson

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CNN's Becky Anderson asks: Who is Camilla Parker Bowles?
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- Camilla Parker Bowles may be the great love of Prince Charles' life, but she has also been the subject of controversy -- and the object of scorn -- in the press and on the streets of Britain.

So, just who is the woman, who more than 30 years ago, won the heart of the man next in line to become the King of England? (Full story)

With a history that practically defines the term "star-crossed lovers," the prince and soon-to-be Duchess of Cornwall first met at a polo match in 1970.

He headed off to join the Royal Navy and three years later, Camilla married cavalry officer Andrew Parker Bowles.

The woman Princess Diana once referred to as "the Rottweiler" certainly had the right pedigree.

She was born in London, educated at the elite Queen's Gate School and attended finishing schools in Switzerland and France.

The pair didn't let her marriage stand in the way of their friendship though and there are rumors that Camilla even helped Charles pick a suitable wife. The prince is also said to have proposed to Diana in Camilla's vegetable garden.

Their fairytale wedding in 1981 soon turned into a royal nightmare -- and as the war of the Windsors played out in the press, Camilla became a public pariah.

Diana blamed her for ruining her marriage. In a 1995 television interview she said : "There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded."

A year earlier in 1994, Charles had also appeared on television. And it was here he confessed his infidelity, maintaining that he was unfaithful only when his marriage had broken down.

The pair divorced in 1997, and when Diana was killed in a Paris car crash in 1997, Camilla crept back into the shadows, leading a life very much away from the spotlight.

But in 1999, she and Charles were photographed together for the first time.

Their story is truly a case of romantic history repeating: Camilla's great grandmother, Alice Keppel, was the long-time mistress of Charles' great-great-grandfather, King Edward VII.

But, the public's devotion to Diana will deny Camilla the use of the title "Princess of Wales" and prevent her from ever being queen if Charles ever ascends to the throne.

Instead, Camilla will be called "her royal highness, the princess consort."


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