“Kate’s a lovely girl,” gushed her future mother-in-law last week in London. “We’re very lucky.” Surprisingly, it is Camilla, duchess of Cornwall, 63, who has become the closest royal adviser and mentor as Kate Middleton, 29, navigates the treacherous route from commoner to future queen, a path Camilla Parker Bowles traversed mostly solo when she married Prince Charles in 2005. They are increasingly seen out and about enjoying each other’s company. For instance, Camilla and Charles recently took Middleton to see the Royal Ballet’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
It isn’t just Camilla who is chummy with Middleton, but also most of her family from her first marriage. In February, Camilla, with her daughter Laura Lopes, took Middleton and her younger sister Pippa to a high-profile lunch at the exclusive restaurant Koffman’s that marked the end of months of palatial purdah for William’s fiancée. The four women laughed, chatted and ate for more than 2½ hours, ignoring all around them straining to listen. At one point Camilla could be heard saying tantalizingly, “If I can give you one bit of advice…”