- By Sarah Campbell
- royal correspondent
She is the love of Carlos’ life, his confidant since their youth and his wife of 17 years. And now, she is his queen consort.
The public is used to seeing Camilla next to her husband at major national and international events and celebrations, but as she herself admitted, it was not easy for her at all.
Few women have been as publicly reviled as Camilla Parker Bowles. She was the ‘other woman’ in the marriage breakdown of the century, endlessly compared to Diana, Princess of Wales.
By choosing Carlos, he turns his life upside down. For years she was harassed by the press and her character and appearance were relentlessly attacked.. But she weathered the storm and gradually consolidated her position as the most important female member of the royal family.
It’s been quite a journey for the woman who Prince Charles is said to have instantly fallen in love with when they met in their 20s.
Queen Elizabeth II’s full acceptance came slowly, but in her later years she was unequivocal in her support of Camilla.. The new queen may never win the public’s full approval, but as she said in an interview with Vogue magazine earlier this year: “I’m getting over it and moving on. Let’s get on with life.”
His childhood and youth
Marrying the Crown Prince was not the intended future for Camilla Rosemary Shand, who was born on July 17, 1947. His family was upper class, rich and well connected.but she was definitely no royalty.
He grew up in a close-knit and loving environment, playing with his brother and sister in a picturesque family estate in Sussex, in the south-east of England. His father, Bruce Shand, a retired Army officer, loved to read him bedtime stories, and his mother, Rosalind, took the children to school, activities and the beach. It was a very different childhood to that of Carlos, who spent long periods without his parents as they traveled the world.
School in Switzerland prepared Camilla for life as a debutante in London society. She was popular and from the mid-1960s had an on-and-off relationship with a British army officer named Andrew Parker Bowles.
In the early 1970s, she was introduced to the young Prince Charles. According to Jonathan Dimbleby, who wrote a biography of the prince, “she was gentle, unassuming, and – with all the intensity of first love – he lost his heart to her almost immediately”.
But the time was not right. Carlos was only 20 years old and was pursuing a career in the navy. At the end of 1972, he went on an eight-month business trip abroad. Y while she was away, Andrew proposed marriage to Camilla and she accepted. Why didn’t he wait for Carlos to ask him? Friends speculate that she just never saw herself as queen material.
No matter how hurt Carlos felt, they continued to be a part of each other’s lives. They moved in the same social circles, Carlos and Andrew played polo together and the couple asked Carlos to be godfather to their first child, Tom. Photos of Carlos and Camila at polo matches show a relaxed relationship.
“Marriage of Three”
IN In the summer of 1981, Carlos met and proposed to the young Lady Diana Spencer. But Camilla was still a part of his life. In the book Diana: Her True Story, author Andrew Morton describes how Diana almost called off the wedding two days before it was due to take place after she found a bracelet that Carlos had Camilla make with the letters “F”. ” and “G” engraved – their favorite names were Fred and Gladys.
That Diana had problems with Camilla’s relationship with her husband is beyond dispute. Carlos insisted they only rekindled their romance when their marriage was “irretrievably broken”. But as Diana so memorably stated in the now discredited 1995 BBC interview, “there were three of us in this marriage”.
As Carlos and Camila’s marriages deteriorated, the press began to collect more and more details about their relationship. Perhaps the one that caused the most uproar was the one revealed in a secretly recorded phone conversation in 1989 and made public four years later. In it, Carlos talks about wants to be Camila’s tamponwhich clearly showed the degree of intimacy between them.
Divorce and wedding with Carlos
Camila’s divorce was finalized in 1995. Carlos and Diana’s marriage officially ended in 1996.
The fact that Camila chose to be with him despite the public hostility and disruption it brought to her own family, especially her two children Tom and Laura, is indicative of the strength of her feelings for Carlos.
Tom Parker Bowles has spoken of the days when paparazzi hid in the bushes outside the family home in Wiltshire. “There is nothing anyone can say about our family anymore that will offend us”he wrote in the Times newspaper in 2017, adding: “My mother is armored.”
Of those days, Camilla said: “No one likes to be stared at all the time. You just have to find a way to live with it.”
Finding a way to deal with the criticism became even more difficult in 1997, after Diana’s death. Publicly, Carlos focused on his sons William and Harry, and Camilla withdrew from the public sphere. But their relationship continued.
Carlos’ position was that Camila was non-negotiable in his life, and so began a carefully choreographed campaign to rehabilitate her in the public eye. It started with an evening at the Ritz Hotel in 1999, where they were celebrating Camilla’s sister’s 50th birthday. Six years later they married in a small civil ceremony at Windsor Guildhall.
The couple’s worries that the audience might react negatively to the newlyweds proved unfounded as they were met with cheers and applause.
However, for many years the debate continued as to whether she would be known as Queen. Although legally entitled to use that title, the official line was for her to be known as the Princess Consort, as a way to appease those who blamed her for the breakdown of Charles’ marriage to Diana.
Ultimately, the matter was settled by the Queen, who said in 2022 that it was her “I sincerely hope that when that time comes, Camilla will be known as rHaina ° СonsortIt was confirmation that Camila had earned her place next to Carlos. This put an end to any public debate.
If the Queen was initially suspicious of Camilla, she must have been even more so with Princes William and Harry. They both had to deal with the public breakdown of their parents’ marriage and then the death of their mother when William was 15 and Harry was just 12.
A connection to the royal family
In 2005, a few months after their wedding, almost 21-year-old Harry called Camilla a “wonderful woman” who made his father very happy.
“William and I love her very much and get on very well with her.”
Since then, neither brother has said anything about their feelings for Camilla. However, watching the interaction and body language between William, his wife Kate Middleton and Camilla at public engagements, there is a warmth and familiarity that suggests relations, at least with Cambridge, are good.
At 75, Camilla’s life revolves around her husband and family. Her relationship with the Windsors may be in the news, but away from the limelight, Camilla is also an enthusiastic grandmother to five grandchildren. And he has kept his home in Wiltshire, Rae Mill House, where he escapes to relax.
“She has a close-knit, supportive family and a close group of old friends”his nephew Ben Elliott told Vanity Fair magazine. “She adores her husband, children and grandchildren.”
Camilla has also made her own mark in areas she is passionate about:
- Raising awareness of osteoporosis, which affected her mother and grandmother
- Highlight difficult issues such as domestic violence, rape and sexual abuse
- Try to pass on the love of books inherited from his father with a book club on Instagram
Perhaps because she’s late for the royals, she seems almost embarrassed by the commotion around her.
Looking at how it works, it’s clear that it can put people at ease. She does not hide that the speeches make her nervous, but over the years she has gained self-confidence.
Carlos and Camila have been married for 17 years. In the public space, their connection is obvious. A shared look, a laugh…there’s rarely an act where they don’t seem to be sharing a personal joke.
“They love and respect each other and laugh at the same thing,” Elliott told Vanity Fair.
They live a life of luxury, but under the most intense scrutiny and the pressure can be relentless.
“It’s always nice to have someone by your side,” Prince Charles told CNN on the eve of their 10th wedding anniversary. “She is extremely supportive and sees the funny side of life, thank God.”
“Sometimes we don’t see each other,” Camilla said of their life together, “but we always find time to sit down together, have a cup of tea and talk about the day.”
The role of king is a lonely one, and Carlos’ reluctance to give up Camila is perhaps because he knew she was the only person who could provide him with the company he would need in the role he was taking on.
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