Camilla at 75: the Duchess of Cornwall celebrates a milestone birthday

Danica Kirka, The Associated Press

Published Saturday July 16, 2022 10:26 am EDT

Last updated Saturday July 16, 2022 6:04 PM EDT

LONDON (AP) – Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, celebrates her 75th birthday on Sunday and will mark the occasion with a small family dinner at Prince Charles’ estate in Highgrove, southwest England.

The big occasion follows the release of a documentary by British broadcaster ITV about the Duchess’s tenure as guest editor of Country Life, during which she helped produce a special issue to mark the magazine’s 125th anniversary. In a personal tribute, Camilla singled out Charles, her husband, as one of her rural heroes.

“It’s not easy to write about your husband,” she said in the film. “I’ve bitten through several pins.”

The milestone birthday comes at a time when the monarchy and Camilla’s place in it are in a generational shift. As 96-year-old Queen Elizabeth II moves on in her twilight years, other members of the royal household are taking on new roles with greater responsibilities.

Six months ago, in a statement marking her 70th jubilee, Queen Elizabeth II expressed her “sincere wish” that Camilla would be known as the “Queen Consort” when her son succeeds her. With these words, Elizabeth tried to answer questions once and for all about the status of Camilla, who was initially shunned by fans of the late Princess Diana, Charles’ first wife.

The Queen’s statement marked a big moment in Camilla’s transformation from the “third person” in Charles and Diana’s marriage to consort-in-waiting. Once blamed for the disintegration of the marriage, the public has grown more accepting of her in the years since she married Charles in 2005.

She has held roles with more than 100 charities and has focused on a variety of issues including promoting literacy, supporting victims of domestic violence and those living with osteoporosis. Known for her quirky sense of humor, she has softened Charles’ stuffy image, making the heir apparent less distant and more approachable.

“I think there’s been an amazing shift in terms of her public persona. She’s definitely taken care of. … She can even look a little glamorous at times,” said Pauline Maclaran, author of Royal Fever: The British Monarchy in Consumer Culture. “She is always dressed very smartly, but appropriate for her age. Not as dated as it used to be.”

Camilla alluded to her approach to royal life earlier this week during a champagne reception and sea bass lunch sponsored by The Oldie magazine, which was honoring her birthday.

Alluding to the magazine’s target audience, the Duchess noted that she was born in 1947, the same year that Elizabeth married her late husband, the Duke of Edinburgh. She paid tribute to him and promised to follow his example.

“The Duke of Edinburgh’s philosophy was clear – look up, pay attention, say less, do more and get on with the job,” she said. “And that’s exactly what I intend to do.”

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