How Princess Diana’s death has shaped Queen Camilla’s approach to royal engagements

The late Princess of Wales died in 1997

Queen Camilla
(Image credit: MICHAEL COOPER/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

According to a body language expert, Queen Camilla's journey to 'win the public round' following the death of Princess Diana back in 1997 has heavily influenced how she acts during royal engagements.

Coronation day was bittersweet for many reasons; perhaps the most publicised being Prince Harry's flying visit that reportedly left the Royal Family 'deeply upset.' But, for Americans at least, there was upset at seeing Camilla crowned as Queen, despite much speculation over her Consort title, and many believed that she was 'taking Princess Diana’s place next to the King.'

Speaking with the Radio Times, senior national affairs correspondent for ABC News Deborah Roberts shared, "Charles is a man who a lot of people associate with breaking Princess Diana’s heart, and Camilla is going to be referred to as Queen, not Queen Consort, so there’s that feeling that another woman is taking Diana’s place next to the king on the throne.”

Hearts across the globe broke when, just one year after her and Charles' divorce in 1996 which she branded 'desperate and ugly', Princess Diana died in a tragic car accident that left only one survivor, her body guard. There was already public uproar over King Charles III's affair that saw him cheat on the Princess with his now-wife, Queen Camilla, but Diana's death heightened tensions tenfold. 

It's a legacy that Queen Camilla has had to battle for her entire marriage and she has done so to varying degrees of success according to one body language expert. 

Princess Diana

(Image credit: Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)

Speaking to The Express, body language expert Judi James revealed, "It’s taken Camilla so long to try to win the public round after the death of Diana that she’s unlikely to look anything other than sweet, kind, friendly and compliant at royal events.

"But there have been some moments in the past when her body language has appeared to go off-message and suggest boredom, frostiness or strong irritation."

Pulling one example, James painted a picture of the Queen Consort during a balcony appearance for the National Service Of Remembrance in 2022. She stood alongside Kate Middleton for the event but the pair appeared to be in the midst of a disagreement. 

She shared, "Camilla and Kate were photographed exchanging this terse look on the balcony on Remembrance Day. Of course it would have been inappropriate to smile and chat happily on such a poignant occasion but Kate’s lips did appear pursed as Camilla threw her this less-than-friendly glare."

The interaction only fed more into the ongoing speculation over Kate and Camilla's relationship. Often reports of the pair's interactions are sweet, for example how Camilla reportedly planned a special treat for Kate to pamper her before her wedding and how the Princess stepped back during Camilla's first outing as Consort to allow her to shine. But, on the other hand, royal insiders have previously claimed that Camilla is 'determined to make Kate's life a nightmare' and angered the Middleton family by denying them plus-ones at last month's Coronation.

Queen Camilla

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Further solidifying her opinion, James also referred to an earlier moment during the Order of The Garter Service at Windsor Castle back in 2019 when Kate Middleton was having a conversation with Queen Letizia of Spain, who recently stepped out in a bold patterned midi dress and fuchsia satchel bag, while Camilla looked on.

She said, "In 2019 there was another unhappy look from Camilla, who appeared frozen out of the conversation between Kate and Letizia of Spain. While the two younger royals seemed to get on like a house on fire, Camilla was seen lurking in the background with no one to talk to."

However, for all her analysis, James has previously explained that body language can easily be misconstrued when looking at photographs. She told The Express earlier this year, "When we see a photo of a royal looking angry or stressed it can often be a body language 'flash,' i.e. a very fleeting facial expression that has been taken out of context.

"When we see the whole footage the message can be completely different, especially if it’s a royal like Kate, who is normally known for her pitch-perfect social smiles that she can keep in place without looking strained or inauthentic for long periods of time."

Charlie Elizabeth Culverhouse
Freelance news writer

Charlie Elizabeth Culverhouse is royal news and entertainment writer. She began her freelance journalism career after graduating from Nottingham Trent University with an MA in Magazine Journalism, receiving an NCTJ diploma, and earning a First Class BA (Hons) in Journalism at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute. She has also worked with Good To, BBC Good Food and The Independent.