The Deeper Story Behind Camilla, the New Queen Consort
| LAST UPDATE 09/20/2022
Before she was The Queen of Consort, the former Duchess Camilla went through challenging hoops to marry the love of her life. However, there is a lot the public doesn't know about her journey, so take a look.
Camilla Rosemary Shand, previously known as the Duchess of Cornwall, rose to the top after her relationship with then-Prince Charles went public. However, the now Queen Consort is relatively laid back, despite the Royal drama.
In an interview with Daily Mail's You Magazine, Camilla gave readers a little inside scoop on how humble she actually is. "I have so many friends who, if I ever even vaguely look like getting uppity, which touch wood I never have, they would just say, 'Look, come on, pull yourself together! Don't be so bloody grand!'"
Meeting Her Match
Before King Charles wed the late Princess Diana, he had actually met Camilla years before he ever knew his first wife. During the early '70s, Charles was immediately interested in Camilla, but the timing wasn't in their favor back then, as he was leaving for a tour of duty with the Royal Navy.
Camilla was arranged to marry Army officer Andrew Parker Bowles in 1973 before the Royal could ever confess his true feelings for her, but years later, the two found each other again. "Everything in life is timing, and so often time deals you the wrong hand," Camilla's family friend Jane Churchill told Vanity Fair.
Camilla and Princess Diana
Allegedly, Prince Charles was pushed to ask Diana to marry by his father, Prince Philip, despite his feelings for Camilla. Years ago, during an interview of the "happy couple," they were asked if they were in love, and well, the answer wasn't too convincing. She responded, "Of course," while he said, "Whatever 'in love' means."
The couple was married for 15 years before they finalized their divorce. Despite the rumors they had split up due to Camilla, Prince Charles remained faithful to his Princess. When asked if he had committed infidelity, he said, "Yes, until it became irretrievably broken down, us both having tried."
Picking a Royal Title
Camilla and her first husband called it quits in 1995, while Prince Charles and Princess Diana finalized their divorce a year later. However, it wasn't until after Princess Diana's tragic death in 1997 did the two made their relationship public, and boy, were people less than impressed with the news.
Prince Charles, the Duke of Cornwall, insisted their relationship was "non-negotiable" after the high amount of criticism surrounding their romance. However, Camilla decided not to inherit the title of Princess of Wales, which was Diana's formal name but instead went by the Duchess of Cornwall.
Charles Welcomes a Godson
Even though the eventual couple took decades to marry, that didn't stop them from remaining friendly while being married to their original partners. When Camilla and her first husband had their first baby boy, Tom, they even named Charles as the boy's godfather.
When Charles and Diana married, it was suggested that Tom be a part of the ceremony. However, the young bride gave a firm no, and Camilla still attended the prestigious event despite Diana's wishes. "walking down the aisle, I spotted Camilla, pale gray, veiled pillbox hat, saw it all, her son Tom standing on a chair," she recalled.
The Ring Belonged to the Queen Mother
When Camilla and Charles finally did get engaged years later, her ring was nothing short of absolutely extraordinary. The outstanding ring was a five-carat emerald cut diamond surrounded by three diamond baguettes on each side, sitting a top of a sleek gold band.
Besides being breathtakingly gorgeous, the massive rock carried a long line of historical significance as well. The five-carat-rock previously belonged to Prince Charles' grandmother, The Queen Mother, and well, that wasn't the only piece of jewelry she inherited from The Queen Mother. She even scored the Greville Tiara!
Carrying a Few Royal Titles
Even though Camilla was best known for holding the title of Duchess of Cornwall, her official Royal title has changed a few times during her reign. Following her marriage to Prince Charles, she became Her Royal Highness, and the Princess of Wales, a title she did not want.
Following the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, Camilla's former title has changed even more, per the late Queen's request. Now that her husband, King Charles III, has ascended the throne, Camilla is now formally known as Her Majesty The Queen Consort. What a title!
Just like her late mother-in-law, Camilla is a big dog lover and overall animal lover! The skilled horseback rider adopted her first rescue dog in 2011, a Jack Russel Terrier named Beth, and it didn't stop there! She decided one was not enough and took in another pup a year later named Bluebell.
The Queen Consort's love for animals, specifically dogs, goes way past her personal chambers. Camilla is an active member and sponsor of the charity Medical Detection Dogs, where she helped open a new facility in 2019 and has paid visits to the trainers and their adorable pups.
Continuously Giving Back
Besides lending a royal hand to rescue dogs in shelters, Camilla is frequently involved in various charities. Since marrying into the Royal family in 2005, the now Queen Consort has been a part of nearly 90 charities and even the President of the Royal Voluntary Service.
Following in the late Queen Elizabeth's footsteps, Camilla is involved in Battersea Dogs & Cats Home Barnardo's and The Royal School of Needlework. The Queen Consort helps wherever she can, from supporting victims of rape, sexual abuse, and domestic violence, to aiding charities focusing on health, literacy, animals, and the arts.
Her Educational Background
The Queen Consort spent most of her early education life in Plumpton, Sussex, where she was enrolled in the Dumbrells School, a co-ed school. Following the Dumbrells School, Camilla went to the Queen's Gate School at age 10 in South Kensington, where was learned the necessary skills for upper-class girls.
Camilla finished her studies in Switzerland at 16 years old, where she studied at the Mon Fertile school before moving to Paris to attend the Instit Britannique. Once she graduated, Camilla moved to London, where she worked as a part-time secretary and part-time socialite!
She Loves Spending Time in the Garden
Now that she has inherited the role as Queen Consort, she will definitely have more responsibilities on her hands, limiting her time to the thing she loves most: gardening. "I'd be out in my garden all day, every day if I were allowed," she said at the British charity Floral Angels. "I love to get my hands dirty."
However, the Queen Consort has a beloved hideaway spot, Ray Mill House, where she goes when she needs a break. "Sometimes you get up in the morning and think you can't do it, and you just have to," the Daily Mail reports. "The minute you stop, it's like a balloon, you run out of puff - you sort of collapse in a heap."
She Can Keep a Conversation Going
Holding such a prestigious title comes with many responsibilities, with one being able to keep a conversation going! This is truly a difficult skill to possess, but her charming personality and social intelligence is definitely what helped her win the hearts of people all over the world.
"There was a dinner party at home with some of the most boring neighbors in the world," she said. "[My mom would] sit us down, and the minute there was silence, she used to say, 'Talk! I don't care what you talk about, talk about your budgie or your pony but keep the conversation going.' And so I've never been able not to talk."
"You’ve Got To Laugh Through Most Things"
With such a high title, the Queen Consort attends many honorable events but sometimes has difficulties keeping it together, just like us. "There are situations where it's very difficult not to lose it completely, especially, you know, if something goes terribly wrong and everybody sits there for a split-second [not sure how to react]."
"You do have to swallow and pinch yourself very hard to not laugh," she confessed to the Daily Mail. In May 2018, Camilla and her daughter-in-law, Meghan Markle, were spotted laughing away during Prince Harry's speech. "You've got to laugh through most things, and sometimes I do laugh a bit too much," she said.
Not a Fan of Flying
Carrying her highly-esteemed titled of the Queen Consort, her job description involves a whole lot of traveling! Growing up in Europe, Camilla was used to traveling quite a bit, and although she continues to do so, she is actually terrified of flying!
Due to her extreme travel fears, Camilla could not accompany the then-Prince Charles to places in the South Pacific. However, she once traveled to Brisbane, Australia, for the Commonwealth Games, after using the tapping method EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) to lessen her anxiety over flying.
Shares a Birthday With the German Chancellor
Birthdays are a funny thing. Some say we get wiser with age, but others dread the day on their calendars year after year. For Camilla, the year she turned 75, she reportedly was not excited for the event, she told Vogue. "Who wants to be 75, really? But there's nothing we can do about it, that's life," she added.
"You've done what you can. I think you just accept that you are who you are," she told the outlet. Well, this is true! But all birthdays are special in some way, shape, or form, and for Camilla, she shares the special day, July 17th, with the former German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
She’s a Shoe Repeater!
We could imagine that with a closet and a budget like hers, Queen Camilla would be debuting a new outfit each time we saw her, but this humble Queen chose to keep things a little more low-key. In fact, she has been rocking the same pair of heels since the year 2005!
Camilla's shoe of choice? The all-time classic Chanel nude pumps with black toes and the iconic "CC" logo on the front. I mean, they do go with basically every outfit. Some say Princess Diana veered away from the French brand after, thinking the double C stood for Camilla and Charles…
Related to Hollywood Stars
According to a simple genealogical search, it looks like the Royal blood runs pretty deep, and Queen Camilla shares the same blood as Madonna, Angelina Jolie, and Celine Dion! That's right. These ladies are apparently all linked to a French Canadian couple from the 17th century.
However, the bloodline doesn't stop there and extends to her husband, Charles. The lovely couple is 9th cousins once removed, according to Ancestry.com, who show they are related to Henry Cavendish, second Duke of Newcastle. Camilla's great-grandmother, Alice Keppel, was Charles' great-great-grandfather, King Edward VII's mistress!
She Was Born a Commoner
Even though she was actually blood-related to the Royal family, she was born as a commoner in 1947 to an upper-class family. She may share the same heritage as some of the most prestigious in the land, but her parents, Bruce and Rosalind, were certainly not born royal.
Rumor has it; this was one of the reasons why Prince Charles didn't marry Camilla in the first place when they met decades ago. Perhaps his family put too much pressure on the current King to find a wife with as prestigious of a background as theirs.
A Horrible Death in the Family
Tragedy struck when Camilla sadly lost her younger brother, Mark Shand, in 2014. The travel writer and conservationist was attending a charity event in New York when he unexpectedly fell over and hit his head, causing a sudden death at only 64 years old.
Following the horrific news, Camilla and Charles published an official statement mourning the loss of her younger brother. The now Queen and King expressed how "utterly devastated" they were about losing Mark in such a tragic way. Camilla only has one sister, Annabel Elliot, as her parents have also passed away.
Finally Marrying Charles
When it was time for the happy couple to tie the knot, they wanted to get married at Windsor Castle, but they faced a few hurdles along the way. Even for the King and Queen, Windsor Castle would not allow a ceremony, as they needed a license to perform weddings, which would then give the public access to weddings in the future.
As a result, Camilla and Charles had a civil ceremony at the Windsor Guildhall and their blessing at the Saint Georges Chapel inside Windsor Castle. The then Duchess wore a custom-designed Antonia Robinson and Anna Valentine dress, whose goal was to have the dress a "crisp, clean look with subtle detailing."
She Almost Didn’t Walk Down the Aisle
Despite having to wait decades to get married, the current King and Queen almost had to wait a little bit longer than they had hoped! On the morning of the big day, on April 9, 2005, Camilla felt sick with a sinusitis infection; she could barely move, per Vanity Fair. Her sister even joked she would put the gown on if Camilla didn't!
The late Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip didn't attend the ceremony, but they showed up for the reception. "They have overcome Becher's Brook and The Chair and all kinds of other terrible obstacles. They have come through, and I'm very proud and wish them well. My son is home and dry with the woman he loves," the late Queen said.
She Almost Didn’t Walk Down the Aisle
Despite the Late Queen being against the relationship at first, she eventually gave in, understanding her son was not going to give up on his one true love. However, she did not attend the highly-anticipated wedding day due to her responsibilities as the head of the Church of England.
The Church of England did not allow Charles and Camilla to marry under their roof, as they have both been divorced previously, and well, the Church is against that! The late Queen Elizabeth II could not attend the ceremony due to her position in the Church, but she and her husband did host the reception at the Windsor Castle.
Living in the Clarence House
Once the newlyweds finally tied the knot, Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla moved to a house that his been a part of the Royal family for ages. They lived in the Clarence House on the Mall in London, situated right between Trafalgar Square and Buckingham Palace.
However, the question remains where they will live now that Queen Elizabeth II has passed away. Although it has not yet been confirmed, rumors have insinuated the new Queen Consort, and her King will follow in British Royal tradition and live in Buckingham Palace.
Not Receiving the Queen’s Approval
When Camilla and Charles first met decades ago in the '70s, his family greatly disapproved of welcoming Camilla into their family as his wife. Many believe Charles was sent overseas in order to avoid their relationship from maturing, but years later, it didn't seem to matter.
The couple were first seen publically dating in 1999, two years after Diana's death, but didn't officially tie the knot until 2005. Seeing as they were both previously divorced, we can only imagine what the Late Queen and the royal family thought of the situation, but love seemed to prevail yet again.
She Was Close to Not Becoming Queen
Out of the utmost respect for the late Princess Diana, Camilla chose the title Duchess of Cornwall, as well as rejected the formal name as Princess of Wales. Following the wedding, the couple said she would "use the title HRH the Princess Consort when the Prince of Wales accedes to the throne."
"Camilla was not popular or well-liked," according to royal expert Marlene Koenig, who told Town & Country she took this name to avoid backlash from the public. But things went far off plan when her husband ascended the thrown in September 2002, and she became the Queen Consort following the late Queen's wishes.
Debate Over Her Royal Status
Camilla attempted to appease the masses when she accepted her Duchess title in honor of the late Princess Diana, but she still ended up as Her Majesty, the Queen. Constitutional Affairs Minister Christopher Leslie said, "This is absolutely unequivocal that she automatically becomes queen when [Prince Charles] becomes king."
However, people have grown to love Camilla years later despite the controversy. Per Penny Junor's book, The Duchess, she revealed Camilla "has given Charles belief in himself that he's never had before, and that has made him much more likable and therefore much more popular."
Opening Up in British Vogue
Despite the years of controversy, Camilla has become quite likable over the years due to her charming and relatable personality. Recently, the Queen Consort was featured in British Vogue, and to no one's surprise, the spread went viral as people loved getting a sneak peek at what it means to live like a Royal.
The interviewers, Giles Hattersley, discovered Camilla's love for all things fashion, as she often works alongside Jacqui Meakin, who frequently dressed The Queen Mother. "I did have some [press-on] nails, but I lost them all gardening yesterday," she admitted. That does feel oddly relatable!
Finally Accepted by the Late Queen Elizabeth II
In Camilla's interview with Vogue, she opened up about the various events she attended this past year as a part of the Royal family, specifically when the late Queen celebrated her 70th year in power. While celebrating such an exciting milestone, the Duchess of Cornwall finally received the stamp of approval she was waiting for.
She said, "it is my sincere wish that, when that time comes, Camilla will be known as Queen Consort." The new King and Queen shared a statement, "The Queen's devotion to the welfare of all her people inspires still greater admiration with each passing year. We are deeply conscious of the honor represented by my mother's wish."
Embracing Family Ties
"I do Wordle every day with my granddaughter," Camilla told the Vogue interviewer. "She'll text me to say, 'I've done it in three,' and I say, 'Sorry, I've done it in two today.' It's very satisfactory when it tells you how brilliant you are," she explained.
The Queen Consort inherited a whole new discipline of responsibilities with her new title, but that doesn't mean she is going to leave behind her family duties and the daily activities she loves. Camilla has two children with her ex-husband, five grandchildren, and five more step-grandchildren she loves and adores!
Finally Loved by the Public
Though she was once recognized as the "most hated woman in Britain," Camilla has proved herself as more than the one who took Princess Diana's place. "I think the way Camilla has turned public perception is honestly by appearing a very normal person, which she is," said royal correspondent Roya Nikkah.
Not only has she grown in the eyes of the public, but also within her own Royal family. Following her scandalous and heavily questioned marriage to Charles at the time, she has paved the way for future family members to marry for love rather than for the sake of the thrown.