Camilla, The Duchess of Cornwall

The Duchess of Cornwall
The Duchess of Cornwall

The Duchess of Cornwall (Camilla Rosemary Mountbatten-Windsor, formerly Parker Bowles née Shand) (born 17 July 1947) is the second wife of Charles, Prince of Wales, heir apparent to the thrones of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth Realms.

Prior to their marriage she had been his longtime partner. As the consort of the Prince of Wales she is also the Princess of Wales ;[1] however, she has chosen to be known as Duchess of Cornwall. This is mainly because the former title was so closely identified in the British public consciousness with her husband's extremely popular and well-regarded first wife, the late Lady Diana Spencer. Camilla is known as The Duchess of Rothesay in Scotland.

Early life

British Royal Family

Christened Camilla Rosemary Shand and known since childhood as "Milla", the Duchess spent her early youth in the village of Plumpton, East Sussex, where the family home stood opposite the Plumpton Racecourse.

She attended Dumbrells School in Sussex, as well as Queen's Gate School in Kensington; later she attended Mon Fertile, a finishing school in Switzerland.

She made her debut in London in 1965. In her youth she worked for a year at the London decorators, Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler.

The Duchess of Cornwall's parents are Major Bruce Shand, a British Army officer turned wine merchant, and his wife, the late Hon. Rosalind Cubitt, eldest child of Roland Calvert Cubitt, 3rd Baron Ashcombe. Among the Duchess's forebears is Thomas Cubitt, who made a fortune constructing much of London's West End for the Grosvenor family. An aunt is Elspeth Howe, the former chair of the Broadcasting Standards Commission. She has one brother, Mark, and a sister, Annabel.

In 1973 the then-Camilla Shand married Andrew Parker Bowles, a Roman Catholic. They had two children together, the Tatler food columnist Tom, who was born in 1974 and is a godson of Prince Charles, and Laura, born in 1978. The children were both raised as Roman Catholics. Tom attended Eton, while Laura attended the Roman Catholic St. Mary's Convent School, Shaftesbury. Andrew and Camilla were divorced on March 3, 1995.

She was a Lloyd's of London

Name, but is said to have lost most of her private fortune (an inheritance of approximately £500,000 that was derived mostly from her Cubitt ancestors) in the Lloyd's of London insurance market.

She is a dedicated horse-rider and enjoys hunting.

Family history

According to genealogist William Addams Reitwiesner, her ancestry is French, English, Dutch, Scottish, and American. She is descended from several families — Treadway, Barnes, Jones, Goodnow, Allen, Brazier and others — who were living in Massachusetts and Connecticut in the 17th and 18th centuries.

She also has French Canadian ancestors and is also a descendant of pre-Canadian Confederation Premier of the Province of Canada, Sir Allan MacNab who was the persecutor of the Canadian patriots of the 1837 Upper Canada Rebellion, of whom William Lyon Mackenzie was the hero.

The Duchess of Cornwall is a great-granddaughter of royal mistress Alice Keppel (the Hon. Mrs. George Keppel, née Edmonstone, a daughter of Admiral Sir William Edmonstone), who was the last love of the Prince of Wales's great-great-grandfather, Edward VII; the Duchess was born two months before Mrs Keppel's death. Through George Keppel, she is related to Judith Keppel, the first winner of the top prize on the British television game show, Who Wants to be a Millionaire? George Keppel's brother is the great-great-grandfather of Judith Keppel, making them third cousins once removed.

The Duchess of Cornwall is a descendant of Arnold Joost van Keppel, 1st Earl of Albemarle, the favourite of William III. She is also a descendant of Charles Lennox, 1st Duke of Richmond, the illegitimate son of King Charles II of England by his mistress Louise-Renée de Penancoët de Kérouaille, Duchess of Portsmouth.

The Duchess is a grand-niece of Violet Trefusis, a socialite who caused an international scandal in the 1920s by eloping with fellow writer Vita Sackville-West; both women were married at the time.

Relationship with the Prince of Wales

Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, after their wedding ceremony
Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, after their wedding ceremony

The relationship between Shand and the Prince of Wales began in 1970, after they met at a polo match before either of them were married.[2] It ended a year later, reportedly after the Prince delayed proposing marriage. Camilla Shand was married in 1973 to Andrew Parker Bowles, an Army officer, friend of the Prince of Wales.

The friendship between the Prince of Wales and the Parker Bowleses continued. The Parker Bowles marriage was reportedly an open one - both had extramarital relationships - and she became mistress to Prince Charles during this time. Eventually Andrew Parker Bowles took a long-term mistress, Rosemary Pitman (nee Dickinson), and old friend who later became his second wife.

The Prince's first wife, Diana, Princess of Wales, publicly blamed the relationship between her husband and Camilla for the break-up of the Wales' marriage; privately, the Princess referred to Camilla, with whom she had originally been on affable terms, as "the Rottweiler." Diana reported that Camilla had known before she did that the Prince of Wales was going to propose to her. The Prince and Mrs Parker Bowles bought one another presents and used the pet nicknames of "Fred" and "Gladys" to one another. The Prince's supporters maintained that Diana's "paranoid fixation" over his friendship with Camilla broke up the Wales' marriage.

The romance became public knowledge upon the publication of Diana: Her True Story, followed by the Camillagate scandal (when a racy phone conversation between Camilla and Charles was secretly recorded and published) and Diana's television interview about her failing marriage. These revelations made Camilla unpopular. A claim however that Camilla was pelted with bread rolls in a supermarket by shoppers, through often repeated in the media[3] has been denied by her friends, who suggest that it was a tabloid media invention that has ended up becoming an urban myth.[4]

Some claim that the couple's affair had been conducted throughout the Prince's engagement, and that they had been intimate on the night before Charles's marriage to Diana.[5] Though the timing of these tangled relationships has been much discussed and dissected, reliable published reports indicate that they renewed their romantic relationship in the early 1980s, much prior to the timeframe Diana got involved with Hewitt outside the marriage. After the Prince of Wales's public admission, in a television interview with Jonathan Dimbleby, that he had committed adultery, the Parker-Bowleses announced their own divorce in 1995. They had been living apart for some time, and Andrew Parker Bowles soon remarried.

Though she maintains a residence in Wiltshire, the Duchess of Cornwall primarily lives at Highgrove House and at Clarence House, the former residence of the late Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, which is now the Prince of Wales's official London residence. He spent his early childhood in the house, which was the first residence of his newlywed parents, the present Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and the Duke of Edinburgh. British newspapers reported in early 2005, in articles about the finances of the Prince of Wales, that, even though they were not married at the time, the prince paid for her jewels and designer wardrobe (among the designers are Giorgio Armani and Oscar de la Renta) and the decoration of her two-room Clarence House quarters by designer Robert Kime.

Marriage to the Prince of Wales

Styles of
The Duchess of Cornwall
Reference style Her Royal Highness
Spoken style Your Royal Highness
Alternative style Ma'am

On 10 February 2005, it was announced that Camilla and the Prince of Wales would marry on 8 April 2005 at Windsor Castle with a civil service followed by religious prayer.

On 4 April it was announced that the wedding would be postponed 24 hours until 9 April, so that the Prince of Wales could attend the funeral of Pope John Paul II as the representative of the Queen.[6]

The civil service actually took place at the Guildhall, Windsor instead of the castle, due to the constraints that obtaining a wedding licence for the castle would impose. The service was attended by close members of the couple's family.

However, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh did not attend the civil service, with Buckingham Palace explaining that the Queen did not want to overshadow the wedding. Others commented that this was a snub to Charles and Camilla, or explained by the Queen's reluctance to attend a civil wedding due to her position as Supreme Governor of the Church of England.[7]

However the Queen and Duke attended the service of religious prayer at St George's Chapel following the civil service (it was officiated by the current Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams), and held a reception for the couple in Windsor Castle afterwards.[8]

Following the wedding, the couple travelled to Birkhall, the Prince's country home in Scotland, near Balmoral Castle. The new couple carried out their first royal duties together during their honeymoon. To the surprise of her critics, Camilla's choice of clothes for her wedding day won widespread media praise, with the News of the World calling her outfits "sensational".[9]

Since her marriage, Camilla has been known as HRH, The Duchess of Cornwall except in Scotland where she uses the title HRH, The Duchess of Rothesay.

The Duchess of Cornwall spent her first wedding anniversary with the Prince of Wales in Birkhall, near Balmoral Castle.

Royal duties

The Duchess of Cornwall thanks ambulance workers after the 7/7 terrorist attacks in London
The Duchess of Cornwall thanks ambulance workers after the 7/7 terrorist attacks in London
The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall are greeted by President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush on a November 2005 visit to the United States
The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall are greeted by President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush on a November 2005 visit to the United States

Following the royal wedding, the Duchess of Cornwall began to undertake a range of royal duties. Initially, these involved accompanying the Prince of Wales in his official duties. The Duchess also began to undertake her own solo duties, visiting a hospital in Southampton. She attended the Trooping the Colour ceremony in London for the first time in June 2005, and made her first appearance on the balcony of Buckingham Palace afterwards.

Following the 7 July 2005 London bombings, the Duchess accompanied the Prince to visit victims of the attack at St Mary's Hospital in Paddington.

In November 2005, the Duchess accompanied Prince Charles on a royal tour of the United States of America, her first official international tour as a member of the British Royal Family.

In March 2006, the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall went on a royal tour through Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and India. The long and arduous trip was a great success and won Camilla praises for her persistence and down to earth attitude.

Titles, Styles and Position

The Duchess of Cornwall legally holds the title and technical rank of Princess of Wales as she is the consort and wife of the Prince of Wales, but she does not, by choice, style herself as such, so although the title exists and is held by her it is never used or referred to.

Clarence House announced at the couple's engagement that she wished to use the style of her future husband's subsidiary title, Duke of Cornwall, rather than Princess of Wales, except in Scotland.

In Scotland, where Prince Charles is usually referred to as the Duke of Rothesay, she is referred to as the Duchess of Rothesay.

Queen Elizabeth II has placed her as the fourth highest-ranking female royal in the United Kingdom Order of Precedence in 2005 (after herself, Anne, Princess Royal and Princess Alexandra, The Honourable Lady Ogilvy) rather than second (as would normally befit a consort to the heir) to strengthen the notion of being a royal duchess rather than a princess.

Her degree of acceptance within the Royal Family was shown in the decision to allow her wear the tiara of the late Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.[10]

Camilla's current name, previous names, and styles used of titles acquired upon her marriage into the Royal Family in chronological order are as follows:

  • Miss Camilla Rosemary Shand (until 1973)
  • Mrs. Andrew Parker Bowles (1973-1995)
  • Mrs. Camilla Parker Bowles (1995-2005)
  • Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Cornwall (used everywhere but Scotland) (2005 - )
  • Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Rothesay (used only in Scotland) (2005 - )

Camilla's full titles (but not styles) after her marriage are: Her Royal Highness The Princess of Wales and Countess of Chester, Duchess of Cornwall, Duchess of Rothesay, Countess of Carrick, Baroness Renfrew, Lady of the Isles, Princess of Scotland

Clarence House has indicated that when Charles accedes the throne it is intended that she will use the title HRH, The Princess Consort, although, as with the example of the Princess of Wales, technically as the wife of a king, Camilla would be Queen.

However, one year after her wedding, polls still showed overwhelming opposition to the prospect of a Queen Camilla, with only 21% supporting the idea, and 56% preferring the option of "Princess Consort". The Prince of Wales did however experience a 6% increase in popularity.[11]

Coat of arms

The Coat of Arms of The Duchess of Cornwall
The Coat of Arms of The Duchess of Cornwall

On 17 July 2005, the Duchess's 58th birthday, Clarence House unveiled a coat of arms for Camilla's use. It impales her husband's main coat of arms to the dexter (viewer's left) with her father's to sinister (viewer's right), all surmounted by her husband's coronet as heir-apparent.

According to reports in the news media, the arms were authorized and granted by the Queen, who was said to have taken a "keen interest" in its development, along with Charles and Camilla; the arms itself were prepared by Peter Gwynn-Jones, Garter Principal King of Arms.[12] However, aside from the invention of a boar supporter (reflecting her paternal arms) for the sinister side, the arms are entirely consistent with the historical heraldic arrangement for a married woman who is not herself a heraldic heiress

Honorary military appointments

Royal Colonel, 4th Battalion The Rifles


  1. ^ A spokesman for the Department of Constitutional Affairs told the Sunday Times "[Camilla] automatically takes the title Princess of Wales and all the other titles that go with her marriage to the Prince of Wales." The Sunday Times. 03.04.2005.
  2. ^ BBC News.
  3. ^ See CNN claim.
  4. ^ The author Jilly Cooper, a close friend of Camilla, on RTÉ's The Late Late Show, 12 May 2006.
  5. ^ While Charles and Camilla were alone together for periods, it was in a room to which other guests and members of staff regularly walked in unannounced. No-one reportedly witnessed any indications of sexual activity and the risks of engaging in such activity in a room where anyone could walk in at any time was highlighted as evidence that no such activity was likely to have happened, contrary to Diana's claims. The Sunday Times. 03.04.2005
  6. ^ BBC News.
  7. ^ BBC News.
  8. ^ CBS News
  9. ^ BBC News.
  10. ^ "Duchess of Cornwall wears Queen Mother's Tiara"
  11. ^ The Times. 05.04.06.
  12. ^ BBC News.


  • Whitaker, James (4 April 2006). "WHY I STILL HAVEN'T LEARNED TO LOVE CAMILLA".Mirror.
  • "Charles and Camilla Do America". (2 November, 2005). Slate.
  • Ginsburg, Marsha (Nov. 5, 2005). "What to know if you encounter a prince or a duchess". SFGate.
  • Pierce, Andrew & Gibb, Frances (14 February, 2005). "Camilla might still become Queen". The Times.

Further reading

  • Jonathan Dimbleby, The Prince of Wales, a Biography (Little, Brown and Company, 1994) ISBN 0316910163


Princesses of Wales
dates they were Princess of Wales in brackets

Joan of Kent (1361-1376) | Anne Neville (1470 - 1471) | Catherine of Aragon (1501-1502) | Caroline of Ansbach (1714 - 1727) | Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha (1736 - 1751) | Caroline of Brunswick (1795 - 1820) | Alexandra of Denmark (1863 - 1901) | Mary of Teck (1901 - 1910) | Diana Spencer (1981 - 1996) | Camilla Parker Bowles* (2005 - present)

* Camilla does not use the Princess of Wales title, but instead uses her subsidiary title, Duchess of Cornwall.

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