Camilla Parker Bowles, née Shand, is the Duchess of Cornwall and the second wife of Prince Charles. Born in 1947, Camilla was part of the landed gentry since birth. In her youth, Camilla developed a love for reading and animals, learning how to ride horses at an especially young age. She entered society officially in 1965 after attending a Swiss finishing school and studying French language and literature the year prior. Camilla worked as a secretary and receptionist in London, riding horses, fishing, gardening and painting in her spare time.
Camilla and Prince Charles dated in the early part of the 1970’s, though the relationship was broken off abruptly after Charles traveled abroad with the Royal Navy. During their early courtship, Charles and Camilla had met each other’s families and attended many public events together. After their breakup, Camilla and Charles remained friendly, Charles even acting as the godfather to her first-born child.
Camilla met her first husband Andrew Parker Bowles in the late 1960’s and the two dated on and off until their marriage in 1973. Royal guests including the Queen Mother and Princesses Anne and Margaret were at her wedding and it was considered the social event of the year. The couple had two children, Tom and Laura, born in 1974 and 1978 respectively. Camilla and Andrew divorced amicably in 1995, after 21 years of marriage.
It’s unclear when Camilla rekindled her relationship with Charles; however it is known that after the assassination of his beloved great-uncle Lord Mountbatten in 1979, Charles turned to Camilla for emotional support. Reportedly Andrew and Camilla agreed upon an open marriage, meaning both of them could see other people. Of course, Charles married Diana Spencer in 1981 and during his marriage sparked rumors of an affair with Camilla, especially after the 1993 so-called “Camillagate” in which private telephone conversations were leaked in the press. In contrast to media darling Diana, Camilla was vilified. Charles and Diana divorced in 1994, Camilla’s divorce following just a year later. The two have since gone about rehabilitating their public image, slowly yet increasingly integrating Camilla into Charles’ daily life and public appearances. The couple was engaged in 2005 and were married later that year in a private civil ceremony unattended by the parents of both Charles and Camilla, though their sons acted as witnesses. Charles’ parents did attend the later televised blessing service.
Now the Duchess of Cornwall, a title she adopted over Princess of Wales, Camilla works alongside Charles in diplomatic visits and tours made on behalf of the crown. Her particular philanthropic concerns include osteoporosis, which afflicted her late mother, sexual assault and abuse, literacy, animal welfare and homelessness. In June of 2016, Elizabeth II appointed Camilla to her Privy Council, the first British princess by marriage to hold the position.
BARTLETT AND CAMILLA
Playwright Mike Bartlett fictionalized the royal family for his “future history play” King Charles III. Played by Jeanne Paulsen, Bartlett’s Camilla is a loving, supporting wife to Charles. While she understands the complexity of Charles’ situation, she urges him to stick to his convictions.