Times Camilla Parker Bowles Completely Broke Royal Protocol

There's no denying that Camilla Parker Bowles has long been one of the least popular members of the royal family. Princess Diana stans still blame Bowles for helping to instigate Di's tragic downfall, namely due to her extramarital affair with King Charles. In fact, the erstwhile Duchess of Cornwall was once branded the "most hated woman in Britain," exemplifying a contempt that some critics argue is a product of internalized misogyny.

Now that she holds the esteemed title of queen consort, however, public perception has started to shift, albeit marginally, in the royal's favor, per the Daily Beast. But with great power comes great responsibility. Accordingly, Bowles better start adhering to the protocols of regality if she is to ever reach the popularity of the dearly departed Queen Elizabeth II.

Truth be told — and testament to her contentious persona — Bowles has often made a habit of totally disregarding royal protocol. Her original induction into the royal family was, after all, perceived as an affront to the institution. Some argue that the reason Bowles doesn't always follow royal protocol is rooted in her initial ostracization from The Firm, which has apparently shaped her affiliation and camaraderie with the common people. "She is one of us, an ordinary person who has been thrust into the limelight," an insider told The Irish Examiner. "She even carries her own money." Is she a rabble rouser or simply a royal renegade? Let's look at all the times Camilla Parker Bowles completely broke royal protocol.

Camilla and Charles' civil ceremony was highly controversial

While heads rolled in the lead-up to the royal weddings of yesteryear (we're looking at you, Henry VIII), eyes rolled in anticipation of King Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles' 2005 wedding. The couple's nuptials were mired in controversy, in large part due to their decades-long extramarital affair, not to mention Bowles being a divorcée. Subsequently, Church of England bishop Rev. David Stancliffe said that the couple had to apologize for adultery before being given a blessing for a religious ceremony, per The Guardian.

Charles and his bride therefore opted for a civil ceremony rather than a church service, despite royal weddings typically being held in churches. At the time, the BBC reported that a civil ceremony would be a breach of royal protocol. "In England and Wales such a marriage can be validly celebrated only by a clergyman of the Church of England," stated an official government document. "A civil marriage before the registrar, and marriage according to the rites of any church other than the Church of England, are not possible." However, government ministers contested this, arguing that to rule the wedding illegal would be a breach of the couple's human rights, per The Guardian.

In the end, Queen Elizabeth didn't show up to the ceremony, as doing so would be in violation of her position as head of the Church of England, which frowned upon divorce, per Hello!. She did, however, host a wedding reception for the couple.

Camilla broke royal protocol to hold a disabled boy's hand

She may have been once regarded as one of Britain's biggest villains, but Camilla Parker Bowles does have a softer side. The queen consort is, for instance, a passionate activist against domestic violence and has also worked with charities that support disabled people. Accordingly, Bowles has been known to dodge royal rules in favor of her principles.

As the Evening Standard notes, members of the public aren't really allowed to touch monarchs, save for a friendly handshake. But in November 2022, a couple of months after becoming queen consort, Bowles ended up breaking royal protocol for a rather wholesome reason. Bowles and King Charles were visiting the city of York for the unveiling of a statue of the late Queen Elizabeth II, and were greeted by swathes of local supporters, per Hello! Among the crowd was Jason Tweedie-Long, a blind five-year-old boy, who was eager to meet the royal couple. Subsequently, Bowles and Charles made Jason the star of the show, as they held his hand and walked him through the streets of York.

"We were very happy to have helped young resident Jason, who is visually impaired, to meet the King and Queen Consort during today's royal visit," tweeted City of York Council, alongside a snap of the snazzily-dressed youngster practically jumping for joy. "Jason said he felt 'calm, happy and excited' and got to hold their hands." Judging by little Jason's elation, some royal rules are made to be broken.

Camilla and Charles are known to occasionally pack on the PDA

According to the book "Diana," it was love at first sight for Camilla Parker Bowles and King Charles, who became known for snogging in public. At the Cirencester Polo Ball of 1980, folks noted that the twosome couldn't stop locking lips. "They were kissing passionately as they danced—on and on they went, kissing each other, French-kissing, dance after dance," recalled Charles' ex-girlfriend, Jane Ward. But once Bowles became part of the royal family, the couple had to go a little less heavy on the tongues.

There are a number of rules regarding royals' public displays of affection. As People points out, PDA is allowed in some instances, but grand gestures of affection are generally discouraged, particularly during official royal engagements. "When in a professional role, practice professional behavior... If you ever are engaging in PDA that may make someone uncomfortable, it's best to take it to private quarters," royal etiquette expert Myka Meier explained. Despite these subtle protocols, Bowles and Charles haven't been able to stave off smooching in public.

In 2017, Charles planted a kiss on Bowles on a visit to Singapore, per E!. The couple had been separated for several hours, having traveled on different aircrafts, and Charles clearly couldn't wait to see his wife; indeed, these lips don't lie. They had previously been snapped kissing during an event in 2001, where a visibly smitten Charles swooped in to embrace his lady love before snogging her for all to see.

Camilla wore a purple outfit for Commonwealth Day

The royals are known for their flair for fashion. Queen Elizabeth II, for instance, frequently slayed with her vibrant monochromatic coords, exhibiting a love of fuchsia and turquoise. But members of The Firm must adhere to strict sartorial guidelines, and colorful clothes are only permissible on certain occasions.

According to Express, royals are typically expected to wear white, red, or blue for Commonwealth Day, reflecting the colors of the Union Jack. But in 2022, Camilla Parker Bowles wore a bright purple ensemble, complete with a gaudy feathered hat, at the Commonwealth Day service. The outfit was certainly a far cry from the rest of the fits on display, with Kate Middleton and other attendees wearing royal blues and navy. However, the Daily Mail suggested that Bowles wore the outfit not to breach royal protocol, but as a loving and poignant tribute to the ailing queen, who was too frail to attend the service after recovering from Covid-19. Queen Elizabeth had previously worn a dazzling purple ensemble near identical to her daughter-in-law's (though, as Hello! points out, Liz did not wear the fit on Commonwealth Day).

That being said, People notes that Bowles has made something of a tradition out of wearing purple at the event, long before the queen became ill. Perhaps she is simply a rebel at heart, boldly defying convention and challenging traditional protocol.

The queen consort broke the strict ladies in waiting tradition

For over 60 years, Lady Susan Hussey, who was later at the center of a racism row, was Queen Elizabeth II's lady in waiting, per Tatler. A lady in waiting is essentially a companion and assistant to the queen, duties for which she is not paid. But upon becoming queen consort, Camilla Parker Bowles decided to scrap the tradition, which has existed for centuries.

Since succeeding the throne, King Charles has been keen to modernize the royal family. Accordingly, the queen consort announced her plan to do away with ladies in waiting and instead have "companions," comprised of a number of her close friends, per the BBC. Unlike ladies in waiting, these companions will not be expected to work so rigorously for the queen at the expense of their own personal lives. Instead, they will mainly offer Bowles support at official engagements. Sources told The Times that Bowles wanted greater camaraderie and equity between herself and her companions. "The Queen Consort did not want or need ladies-in-waiting and the Queen's companions will have a different role... to provide Her Majesty with support and company," an insider explained. "At the end of a very busy day, it is nice to have a longstanding friend beside you."

According to the Washington Post, Bowles will also be utilizing her companions to aid her domestic violence activism. The decision follows claims that Bowles will be the most feminist queen in the history of the U.K., per The Telegraph.

Despite it being discouraged, Camilla poses for selfies

It's one thing to ask your favorite celeb for a selfie (though be prepared to get shaded by certain selfie-averse stars), but it's quite another to ask a royal to hunch and grin into your front camera. Although not an official rule, it's generally against protocol for royals to agree to selfies with fans, per Business Insider. "Royals would always rather have a personal interaction than have people clamoring for selfies," explained royal commentator Victoria Arbiter. "If you grant one, then it quickly becomes overwhelming... From a security standpoint, they're also not ideal as they warrant a certain closeness." Despite this, Camilla Parker Bowles has been known to pose for selfies with admirers.

In 2014, Bowles not only posed for snaps but got rather intimate with a fan. During a trip to a Scottish cookie factory, she agreed to sit on a man's knee for a photo, thereby breaking both the selfie protocol and guidelines against getting too close to members of the public, per The Telegraph. "My father is a very happy man, and I think the picture will become something of a family heirloom in years to come," said the fan's son. Bowles had apparently agreed to a similar selfie three years earlier, sitting on a hiker's knee while traipsing the Scottish Highlands. 

Two years later, she continued to break this protocol when she visited an Edinburgh café that provides sandwiches for the homeless, proceeding to happily pose for selfies with staff members, per The Herald.

Camilla swapped a tiara for a hat on her wedding day

Royal weddings are known for their sheer pomp and pageantry. From Lady Di's majestic frock to Meghan Markle's splendid gown, there's no shortage of glam on offer at such momentous occasions. As gorgeous and diverse as royal wedding attire may be, the brides are typically expected to accessorize with a tiara, per Express. But when Camilla Parker Bowles wed Charles, then the Prince of Wales, in 2005, she once again decided to ditch royal tradition.

Bowles is renowned for her love of bold statement millinery. So, on her special day, she famously wore two extravagant hats, both designed by Irish milliner Philip Treacy. For the civil ceremony, she opted for a huge white hat with a netted brim and peacock-esque festoons. Meanwhile, the second hat, worn at the church blessing, was an unusual gold feathered concoction that's part "Midsommar," part Beyoncé at the 2017 Grammys (though, truth be told, the queen consort can't quite match Queen Bey).

Although the hats were major departures from traditional royal wedding etiquette, critics say they were a welcome change that solidified Bowles' status as a maverick monarch unafraid to stand out from the madding crowd. "Camilla's choice to wear a hat over a tiara, points to a conscious effort to play down the traditionally feminine and traditionally royal choice of headgear... this choice of materials was also to make Camilla feel more approachable and down-to-earth as she had been villainised in the press," fashion lecturer Louisa Rogers told Express.

She didn't always curtsy when required

Curtseying has long been a royal tradition required of women. The dainty bow signifies deference, respect, and humility in the presence of one's royal superiors. According to The Telegraph, the royals take this tradition very seriously. When Camilla Parker Bowles wed Charles, for instance, Prince Edward's wife was apparently royally peeved that she would be required to curtsy before Bowles. "She didn't like it one bit," an insider dished.

Likewise, throughout her time as the Duchess of Cornwall, Bowles was expected to curtsy to Queen Elizabeth in line with strict royal protocol, per Express. But, ever the rebel, she didn't always treat senior royals with the appropriate level of decorum. At the 2019 Trooping the Color, which is a traditional military parade marking the sovereign's birthday, neither Bowles nor Kate Middleton curtseyed to the queen. Talk about not bowing to tradition...

Just as Bowles didn't always heed royal protocol in the company of her superiors, she didn't particularly care whether members of the public exhibited the required etiquette in her company. In 2015, she visited a support center for domestic abuse survivors. As The Irish Examiner reported, many of the women present did not follow royal protocol, failing to use the proper form of address or curtsy before Bowles, but she was visibly unfazed. This is a sign, perhaps, of her being a thoroughly modern royal.