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Camilla burrows in

She is no Princess Diana, nor is she Princess Kate, but you have to give Camilla points for trying this week.

From cuddling a zoo's worth of fluffy marsupials and snacking on Tim Tams to slurping on vintage South Australian shiraz and hobnobbing with the glitterati at the Melbourne Cup, the Duchess of Cornwall has done her level best to win over us wild colonials.

And given the apathy the royal couple's Australian tour was met with when it was announced, the mostly positive reaction she has received since arriving indicates that her charm offensive has worked.

Having spent years as ''the other woman'', Camilla helped fill Australia's gossip magazines for more than a decade during the trials and tribulations of Charles and Diana's ill-fated marriage.

Between those dodgy taped ''Camillagate'' phone calls and Diana telling the world there were ''three people'' in her marriage, it seemed for a while Camilla would forever be known by the not-so-nice nickname Diana gave her: the rottweiler.

But how times have changed.


Sporting her huge Philip Treacy hat, which looked remarkably similar to the one she wore to Kate and William's wedding, she was greeted with big smiles and rapturous applause at Flemington on Tuesday.

She has spent more than a decade rehabilitating her image, but her work will never be quite done.

As the second wife of Charles, Prince of Wales, she is entitled to be referred to as the Princess of Wales but, out of respect to the late Diana, she prefers to be known as the Duchess of Cornwall.

It took the Queen two years after Camilla married Charles before she made a public showing of her acceptance of Camilla, extending to her the use of a tiara of the late Queen Mother and the badge of the Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth II.

In 2007 Camilla withdrew from attending the 10th-anniversary memorial service for Diana, stating she did not want to ''divert attention from the purpose of the occasion, which is to focus on the life and service of Diana''.

Earlier this year British author Penny Junor released what has been billed as ''the most definitive ever account'' of Prince William's life.

According to Junor, Diana referred to Camilla as ''the rottweiler'' to her young sons, an epithet ''frequently accompanied by vitriol or tears. It was a lot for a child to handle.''

Eight months after Diana's death, it was Charles who adopted a cautious approach to including Camilla in his sons' lives, inviting her children, Tom and Laura, to stay while he and the boys were in Scotland for the Easter holidays.

Junor writes: ''The meeting could not have been more successful, and thereafter the children saw each other occasionally, both in the country and in London.''

It was while planning Charles's 50th-birthday party that William and Harry realised they would need to invite Camilla, and should probably get to know her.

William and Camilla had a private meeting in William's flat at St James's Palace, with Charles leaving them alone for half an hour.

According to Junor, at the end of the encounter, Camilla came out saying: ''I need a drink.''

But it appeared to work - at the party she was seated next to Charles, which reportedly brought Charles to tears.

By comparison, Camilla cuddling the local fauna in the antipodes and putting up with stifling heat in the outback would seem a hell of a lot easier.