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British RoyalsPrince Charles and Camilla

Camilla at 73: 73 facts about The Duchess of Cornwall

Copyright House of Lords 2019 / Photography by Roger Harris
  1. The Duchess of Cornwall was born Camilla Rosemary Shand on 17 July 1947. Her parents were Major Bruce Shand and Rosalind Cubitt.
  2. Camilla has two younger siblings: Annabel and Mark (who passed away in 2014).
  3. Camilla’s great-grandmother, Alice Keppel, was famously a mistress to King Edward VII.
  4. Camilla is also the great-great-great-granddaughter of Sir Allan MacNab, a Prime Minister of the Province of Canada (which existed before Confederation in 1867).
  5. Camilla spent her childhood at The Laines, a country home in East Sussex, and a house in East Kensington.
  6. Camilla’s love of reading started at an early age, and she attributes this to her father reading to her.
  7. Camilla attended Dumbrells from ages five to 10; then attended Queen’s Gate School in South Kensington.
  8. Camilla received one O-level at Queen’s Gate School in 1964 and did not sit for A-level examinations the following year.
  9. After finishing her schooling at the Queen’s Gate School, Camilla attended the Mon Fertile Finishing School in Tolochenaz, Switzerland.
  10. Following her time in Switzerland, Camilla studied French language and French literature for six months at the University of London Institute in Paris.
  11. Camilla was a debutante in 1965.
  12. Camilla had flats in Kensington and Belgravia during the ‘60s and found work as a secretary and receptionist.
  13. Camilla met her first husband, Andrew Parker Bowles in the late ‘60s and the couple had an on-again-off-again relationship until their engagement was announced in The Times in 1973. They married on 4 July 1973.
  14. The Queen Mother, Princess Anne, and Princess Margaret all attended Camilla’s first wedding.
  15. Camilla reportedly met The Prince of Wales for the first time in 1971 while she and Andrew were broken up. The couple saw each other romantically for a time and were pictured at polo matches. Prince Charles was sent overseas with the Royal Navy in early 1973, and the relationship ended.
  16. Camilla has two children: Thomas Parker Bowles (born in 1974) and Laura Lopes (born in 1978).
  17. Prince Charles is godfather to Tom Parker Bowles.
  18. Camilla has five grandchildren: Lola (born in 2007) and Freddy (born in 2010) through her son Tom; and Eliza (born in 2008 and a bridesmaid at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2011), Gus and Louis (fraternal twins born in 2009) through her daughter Laura.
  19. Tom Parker Bowles is a food critic and food writer who has published several cookbooks. He described having turkey for Christmas dinner growing up and how his mother and aunt “always made a big deal of it, and sweating away and pushing it and swearing at six o’clock in the morning.”
  20. Tom also revealed, in the interview with Town & Country, that Camilla is a good cook and that she’s “brilliant at that sort of very traditional English stuff.”
  21. Camilla spends Christmas with the Royal Family at Sandringham; however, her family has revealed that she nips away after The Queen’s speech in the afternoon to spend time with her children and grandchildren.
  22. Camilla and Prince Charles reportedly rekindled their relationship in the 1980s, but it did not become public knowledge until the early ‘90s when Diana: Her True Story was published.
  23. Camilla and Andrew Parker Bowles dissolved their marriage in 1995, having filed for divorce in 1994. The couple had been living apart by that time. Andrew remarried in 1996.
  24. In 1994, Prince Charles gave a televised interview to Jonathan Dimbleby and confirmed for the first time his relationship with Camilla.
  25. Following their divorces, Prince Charles and Camilla became a couple again, though they kept a low profile.
  26. In 1999, Prince Charles and Camilla were pictured in public for the first time at the Ritz Hotel in London attending a birthday party.
  27. Camilla joined Prince Charles on official engagements in Scotland in 2000, the first time she accompanied him while on royal duties.
  28. Camilla reportedly met The Queen for the first time at King Constantine II of Greece’s 60th birthday celebrations. She later attended, as The Queen’s guest, events for her Golden Jubilee in 2002.
  29. Camilla moved into Clarence House in 2003.
  30. Camilla and Prince Charles reportedly call each other Fred and Gladys.
  31. On 10 February 2005, Clarence House announced that Prince Charles and Camilla were engaged.
  32. Camilla’s engagement ring features a baguette diamond that is thought to have once belonged to The Queen Mother.
  33. Prince Charles and Camilla planned to marry at Windsor Castle in a civil service, however, if they had applied for a license for civil wedding services to take place at the castle, it would have meant that anyone who wanted to marry at Windsor Castle for a period of one year would be allowed to do so. The Royal Family did not want this, and the venue was moved to Windsor Guildhall.
  34. Their wedding was due to take place on 8 April, however, it was postponed by a day so that Prince Charles could attend the funeral services for the late Pope John Paul II at Vatican City.  
  35. Neither The Queen nor Prince Philip attended their wedding service, but they did attend the service of blessing. The Queen also hosted a reception for the newlyweds following the wedding.
  36. Prince William and Tom Parker Bowles were witnesses at their parents’ wedding.
  37. Camilla’s wedding dress was designed by Anna Valentine and Antonia Robinson; her hat was a Philip Treacy creation that featured a spray of golden feathers in lieu of a tiara and veil.
  38. Camilla’s bouquet contained “daffodils, jasmine, Lily of the Valley, pink and cream lilies, camellias, hydrangeas, and roses,” per Wikipedia. Some of the flowers came from Highgrove’s garden.
  39. The BBC received the rights to broadcast their wedding.
  40. From Camilla’s side of the family, her father, children, brother and sister and their families, as well as Andrew Parker Bowles and his new wife, attended the wedding.
  41. Prince Charles and Camilla spent their honeymoon in Scotland and during the honeymoon, Camilla conducted her first engagements as a member of the Royal Family.
  42. Camilla’s official residences include Clarence House, Birkhall (Scotland), Highgrove House (Gloucestershire). She kept her house, Ray Mill House, which she lived in following her divorce and until she moved in with Prince Charles, and uses it for gatherings with her children and grandchildren.
  43. Camilla is legally The Princess of Wales, however, due to the fact that the late Diana, Princess of Wales was primarily known by that name, Camilla has gone by her secondary title, Duchess of Cornwall instead.
  44. Clarence House has insisted since 2005 that when Charles becomes king, Camilla will be known as Princess Consort. It has been debated over the years, however, in 2020, Clarence House reaffirmed this.
  45. Camilla will automatically become queen consort when Charles ascends to the throne, however, as a wife automatically receives the female equivalent of her husband’s titles.
  46. Camilla’s first overseas tour as The Duchess of Cornwall was an official visit to the United States in November 2005.
  47. Camilla has since undertaken official visits to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, India, Turkey, Japan, Brunei, Indonesia, Chile, Brazil, Ecuador, Italy, Germany, the Holy See, Canada, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Bahrain, Kuwait, Iraq, Oman, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Tanzania, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Jordan, Paris, the Netherlands, Mexico, Colombia, Ireland, Gambia, Ghana, Nigeria, Cuba, and the Caribbean.
  48. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Prince Charles and Camilla were set to visit Cyprus and Jordan. Their visit was postponed due to the pandemic.
  49. On 30 October 2007, Camilla received the Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth II, a family order only given to the women of the Royal Family for services to the sovereign.
  50. On her seventh wedding anniversary, The Queen named Camilla a Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order.
  51. In 2013, Camilla was named Chancellor of the University of Aberdeen.
  52. On 13 September 2017, Camilla became an Honorary Fellow at King’s College London.
  53. On 9 June 2016, Camilla was appointed a member of The Queen’s Privy Council.
  54. On her 70th birthday in 2017, she hosted a birthday party for her patronages at Clarence House.
  55. Camilla has two Jack Russell Terriers that she adopted from Battersea: Beth and Bluebell.
  56. Camilla made Tatler’s list of best-dressed women in the UK in 2018, and she was praised for her millinery style.
  57. Camilla grew up loving horses and trained as an equestrian.
  58. Camilla has received two foreign orders since becoming a member of the Royal Family: the Order of the Star of Melanesia (Papua New Guinea) and the Grand-Croix, Ordre Nationale du Mérite (France).
  59. Osteoporosis awareness is an important part of Camilla’s work, as her mother and grandmother both lived with the illness. She became President of the National Osteoporosis Society in 2001, one of her first solo public ventures on her road to becoming a member of the Royal Family.
  60. Camilla supports over 90 charities as patron or president.
  61. Per Clarence House, Camilla’s main charitable interest fall under these categories: “health, literacy, supporting victims of rape and sexual abuse and domestic violence, empowering women; food; animals and heritage and the arts.”
  62. Camilla is a member of both the Tetbury Evening Women’s Institute and the Llandovery Women’s Institute.
  63. Camilla invites children with life-limiting illnesses to help her decorate the Christmas tree at Clarence House every year and has done so since 2006.
  64. In a speech about literacy in 2012, Camilla said: “Reading is exciting. Reading is fun. Reading is cool. There is nothing quite like the thrill of opening a book and being drawn into another world to meet new people and to discover their stories—it’s like making new friends.”
  65. Camilla’s favourite television show is Strictly Come Dancing, and she has visited the set and revealed that she forces her husband to watch with her.
  66. Camilla is also a fan of Downton Abbey.
  67. One of Camilla’s favourite healthy snacks is peas. She told schoolchildren, “I tell you what I really like—eating peas straight from the garden. If you take them straight from the pod, they are delicious and really sweet.”
  68. On an episode of Masterchef Australia, Camilla revealed that garlic is not a food enjoyed by the Royal Family because it gives them bad breath when talking to the public.
  69. In that same episode, Camilla revealed that she keeps olive oil, fresh tomatoes or tomato puree in her pantry at all times and that her grandchildren love ketchup, so she always has it in stock as well.
  70. In 2019, Camilla launched the HMS Prince of Wales, a new Royal Navy aircraft carrier.
  71. Camilla revealed in April 2020 that she had been taking dance lessons with the Royal Academy of Dance Silver Swans, a class meant for older learners.
  72. Camilla released a list of her favourite books in April 2020, and they include Restless by William Boyd, A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, The Various Haunts of Men (The First Simon Serrailler Case), by Susan Hill, The Book of Dust (Volume Two: The Secret Commonwealth) by Philip Pullman, The Light Years by Elizabeth Jane Howard, A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain, The Architect’s Apprentice by Elif Shafak, and Travels on My Elephant by Mark Shand (Camilla’s late brother).
  73. In July 2020, Camilla guest-edited The Emma Barnett Show on BBC Radio 5.

About author

Jess is a communications professional and freelance writer who lives in Halifax and has a passion for all things royal, particularly the British Royal Family.