For years Camilla was vilified as a marriage-wrecker who shattered Britain's fairytale royal love story and Diana herself referred to her as a "Rottweiler".
Following Diana's tragic death in 1997, Camilla and Charles were free to revive their decades-old romance.
Discreet at first, they were married in 2005 and she gradually won over the hearts of many Britons.
But others remain unconvinced by Parker Bowles, who became the Duchess of Cornwall on marrying Charles.
"Infidelity that won't be forgiven," read a headline by Daily Mail columnist Michael Thornton this week.
Recent polls published in Britain's tabloids indicate strong opposition to her ever being given the title of Queen when her husband becomes king.
Her defenders say she has never aspired to royal titles.
"She had no ambition to be a princess or duchess or even queen," wrote Prince Charles's biographer Penny Junor, on their 10th wedding anniversary in 2015.
"She simply wanted to be with, and support, the Prince of Wales. Their marriage has given him a new lease of life," she added.
Born Camilla Shand in London on July 17, 1947, Parker Bowles had a deeply traditional upbringing.
The granddaughter of Lord Ashcombe, she was educated in London, went to finishing schools in Switzerland and France and spent her home life on a country estate in Sussex, southern England.
Self-confident and attractive, the young woman first met Prince Charles at a polo match in the early 1970s, and they later became close.
However, believing Charles would never propose, she married army officer Andrew Parker Bowles, and the couple had two children.
The romance was fully rekindled later that decade as the royal marriage crumbled, something luridly chronicled in recorded phone conversations between Charles and Parker Bowles leaked to the press.
Camilla and Andrew Parker Bowles divorced in 1995, a year before Charles and Diana.
After Diana's death, Charles and Parker Bowles kept their relationship discreet, but it gradually became apparent they were effectively living together as husband and wife.
Following months of careful planning, the couple made their first public appearance together in 1999 and after that became increasingly open about their relationship.
Crowds cheer Windsor wedding
They were married in the royal town of Windsor on April 9, 2005, in a civil ceremony followed by a religious blessing at St George's Chapel in Queen Elizabeth's presence.
Both divorced, there was controversy over whether they could have a church wedding, especially given Charles's future role as supreme governor of the Church of England.
But the wedding -- delayed by a day to allow the prince to attend pope John Paul II's funeral -- drew a cheering crowd of 20,000 into the streets in the shadow of Windsor Castle.
As a married couple they settled down in the years that followed into a regular life of royal duties, overseas tours and holidays at Balmoral, Camilla remaining the archetype of the tweed-wearing, horse-loving British country aristocrat.
Over time Camilla has also been widely accepted by the royal family, including Charles and Diana's two boys, Princes William and Harry.
"The boys had loved their mother and knew what she thought of Camilla; but equally they could see that their father had been lonely and that this woman lit up his life," wrote Junor in the Daily Telegraph on the 10th anniversary of their marriage.
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