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Princess Diana vs. Camilla: Good fairy vs. wicked witch?


July 17, 1997
Web posted at: 6:37 a.m. EDT (1037 GMT)

From Correspondent Margaret Lowrie

LONDON (CNN) -- Princess Diana's swimsuit clad image was splashed all over the newspapers once again this week.

But if she's one of the world's most public public figures, then her long-time rival, Camilla Parker Bowles, is surely one of the most public-private persons in the world.

A British TV station recently tried to lift the veil of secrecy surrounding Bowles with a documentary, but sightings of her are rare. She is but a flicker in the public eye.

"She was brought up in that upper class tradition of keeping quiet, keeping that stiff upper lip, and I think she's been very wise to keep as private as she has through this period," says royal historian Sarah Bradford. "I think people have respect for that even if they might not approve of anything else."

Public perception strikes home


Although it may be changing, polls show the British public doesn't approve. Many believe Bowles caused Prince Charles and Diana's divorce. Few want to see Prince Charles marry her. Fewer still want her to be queen.

Her friends say she's been treated cruelly.

"There was a public finger being pointed at her by the one person who is able to manipulate the media. Because she is very beautiful, the Princess of Wales can be very persuasive when she's in the right mood," says Charles Benson, a friend of Bowles. "(Princess Diana) had a nation crying for her and therefore if they had (Princess Diana) as a good fairy, they had to have a wicked witch, and that was poor old Camill."

Despite speculation over Charles' and Camilla's future, some say the matter won't come to a head anytime soon.

"So far he has said that he has no plans to remarry. Beyond that, we don't really know," says Robert Hardman of the Daily Telegraph. "Whether in five, 10, 20 years time that situation changes, who can tell. But at the moment, I don't think it will be wise. I don't think it will be popular."

Love is in the air

Others says Charles' inner circle has launched a subtle campaign to try to get the public to accept Camilla.

For instance, Prince Charles used Highgrove, his country retreat, to host a 50th birthday bash for Camilla this week.

"He loves her and wants to make a nice gesture for her birthday," Bradford says. "It is certainly a public gesture -- 'I love this woman and I'm not going to give her up.'"

"We had the fairy tale that didn't work and to me that is terribly sad," said Jane Ward, a friend of Prince Charles. "But maybe now it's time to move forward and for everyone to find some happiness."

Ironically, Princess Diana may still hold the key to their happiness.

That's because the princess still holds a large chunk of the public's heart. And some believe that public won't accept Prince Charles being happy until she is.


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