“I’ve noticed how men always congregated around her,” a source in royal circles tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “Clearly when people meet her she has that je ne sais quoi. She does have that magic spell that draws people in.” Adds Christopher Wilson, author of the 1994 biography A Greater Love: “What she had was chutzpah.”
As she approaches her 70th birthday on July 17, the new biography The Duchess: The Untold Story highlights Camilla’s side of the royal love triangle between her, Charles and Princess Diana. Diana famously called Camilla the “third person” in her marriage to Charles.
Friends describe Camilla as “gentle and honest,” but there is a recognition, too, of her steely side as she faced heavy criticism for her role in the demise of Charles and Diana’s marriage. “The love is obviously strong, and she went through a lot to be by his side,” says the source.
The grandmother of five never “grumbles” about the harsh attention she received, says her friend, author Jilly Cooper. And 12 years into their marriage, Camilla and Charles have found their happy-ever-after. “They have a terrific sense of humor,” says Cooper. “They laugh a huge amount. I just think they’re people who love each and are good for each other.”