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The Untold Story of Camilla, the New Queen Consort

Stories

| LAST UPDATE 09/15/2022

By Lia Thomson

The former Duchess of Cornwall is infamous for her controversial relationship with now-King Charles. But there's a lot about her that spectators don't know. Here's a look at Camilla, behind closed doors.

Humble Roots

Camilla Rosemary Shand, former Duchess of Cornwall, rose to fame after her relationship with then-Prince Charles went public. But despite the Royal family drama, she is actually quite laid back.

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Even though she has a high status, she is allegedly very humble. "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!'" she said in an interview with Daily Mail's You Magazine.

Meeting Her Future Husband

Although Camilla is King Charles's second wife, after the late Diana, the two had actually first met each other years before Charles ever knew his first wife. Back in the early 1970's, the Royal felt an immediate attraction to Camilla - but he was leaving for a tour of duty with the Royal Navy.

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And before he could confess his feelings, Camilla was already set to marry Army officer Andrew Parker Bowles in 1973. Camilla and Prince Charles only got a chance for love years later. “Everything in life is timing, and so often time deals you the wrong hand,” Camilla’s family friend Jane Churchill told Vanity Fair.

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Her Involvement in Prince Charles' Divorce

Apparently, Prince Charles was persuaded to ask for Diana's hand in marriage by his dad Prince Philip. Many have speculated that Charles never got over his feelings for Camilla. One time during an interview, he and Diana were asked if they were in love. She responded, "Of course." His response? "Whatever 'in love' means."

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The rocky relationship between Princess Diana and Prince Charles caused rumors that Camilla was the cause of their split. But it seems Prince Charles was actually always faithful. When asked if he was committed infidelity, he said, “Yes, until it became irretrievably broken down, us both having tried.”

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Choosing Her Title

Eventually, by 1995, Camilla and her husband ended things. And in 1996, Prince Charles divorced his first wife. But it wouldn't be until after Princess Diana sadly passed away in 1997 that the two made their relationship public. Unfortunately, people were not too pleased with the news.

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Despite the criticism, Prince Charles persisted that his relationship was "non-negotiable." Yet to try and gain the approval of others, Camilla decided not to take the title of Princess of Wales, which was what Diana went by. Instead, she chose to go by the Duchess of Cornwall since Prince Charles is the Duke of Cornwall.

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Welcoming Her First Child, Charles' Godson

It might have taken decades and two marriages before Camilla and Prince Charles got together, but that never stopped him from being close with her and her first husband. They were so friendly that when Camilla's had her first baby boy, Tom, they actually named Charles his godfather.

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When Prince Charles married Diana, it was suggested Tom be in the ceremony, but the bride said no. Yet Camilla still attended the event, despite the bride's disapproval. Princess Diana recalled, "walking down the aisle, I spotted Camilla, pale gray, veiled pillbox hat, saw it all, her son Tom standing on a chair."

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Her Special Engagement Ring

Arguably most engagement rings are beautiful, but Camilla's is extra extraordinary. This comes as no surprise as she did marry into the Royal Family. Her ring has a five-carat emerald cut diamond in the center and three diamond baguettes on each side with a gold band. Wow!

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But beyond being sparkly and huge, this rock has historical significance since it was previously owned by The Queen Mother, Prince Charles' grandmother. Camilla is one lucky lady because that isn't the only piece of jewelry she's acquired with Royal importance. She also has a Greville Tiara that belonged to The Queen Mother.

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More Than One Royal Title

Although Camilla was arguably best known as the Duchess of Cornwall, her title as a royal has come a long way over the decades. After marrying Prince Charles, she instantly became entitled to use the title Her Royal Highness, as well as Princess of Wales - which as we know, she chose not to use.

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And now that her husband, now King Charles III, has ascended the throne following the death of his mother, her royal title has received a major upgrade. The former Duchess of Cornwall is now officially referred to as Her Majesty The Queen Consort, per the late Queen Elizabeth II's wishes.

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She Adores Animals

Not only is Camilla a skilled horseback rider, but she also loves all animals. Especially dogs - just like her late mother-in-law. So, of course, she adopts and doesn't shop. Back in 2011, she welcomed her first rescue, a Jack Russel Terrier puppy named Beth. She loved her so much she adopted another in 2012 named Bluebell.

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Her admiration for these adorable canines extends outside of her home. In fact, the Queen Consort is a sponsor and active member of the charity Medical Detection Dogs. In 2019, she visited puppies and their trainers to help open up the new facility.

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Her Endless Charity Work

Beyond helping out rescue dogs in shelters, Camilla is also constantly giving a helping hand to other charities. Ever since 2005, when she officially married into the Royal family, she has become a patron - and even a president - of nearly 90 charities! Now that's impressive.

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From supporting victims of rape and sexual abuse, and domestic violence to helping charities for health, literacy, food, animals, heritage, and the arts, Camilla has done it all. She even inherited a few from the late Queen Elizabeth II, such as Barnardo's, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, and The Royal School of Needlework.

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She Is Highly Educated

Camilla spent the majority of her early life in Plumpton, Sussex, where she attended the Dumbrells School, a co-educational school. From there, Camilla, at the age of 10, went to the Queen’s Gate School in South Kensington, where she was taught essential skills for upper-class girls.

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Pool/Tim Graham Royal Photos / Contributor via Getty Images

At 16, she chose to finish her studies in Switzerland, where she was a student at the Mon Fertile school, before finally heading over to Paris, France, where she attended the Institut Britannique. After graduating, Camilla moved to London, where she worked part-time as a secretary when she wasn't busy having fun as a debutante.

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Loves to Garden

Camilla will undoubtedly now have even more royal responsibilities to attend to as Queen Consort. But still, Camilla finds time to do 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.”

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Camilla still has a country retreat, Raymond, 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 she told a friend about her duties. “The minute you stop, it’s like a balloon, you run out of puff - you sort of collapse in a heap.”

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A Smooth Talker

Luckily for Camilla, her bubbly and adventurous personality helped her get into the good graces of people's hearts when she earned a royal status. Some people may not know this, but she sure knows how to keep a conversation going - something she credits her parents with and something that is quite useful with her title.

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"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."

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Easily Humored

The now-Queen Consort attends many prestigious events, yet sometimes she can't help but laugh. "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]."

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She told the Daily Mail, "You do have to swallow and pinch yourself very hard to not laugh." Back in May 2018, Camilla and her daughter-in-law, the Duchess of Sussex (Meghan Markle), couldn't help but giggle during Prince Harry's speech. "You've got to laugh through most things, and sometimes I do laugh a bit too much," she said.

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She Hates Traveling

Growing up, Camilla attended school all over Europe, and as the Duchess of Cornwall, and now Queen Consort, her duties require her to travel to many places. And while she will happily do so, Camilla is not a big fan of traveling. This is because she is terrified of planes and flying in general!

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Her fear stopped her from accompanying then-Prince Charles to places like Australia and the South Pacific. But she did once travel to Brisbane, Australia, for the Commonwealth Games. Based on reports from Express, the Queen Consort uses the tapping method EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) to reduce her anxiety when flying.

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Same Birthday as The German Chancellor

Of course, we all share birthdays with people all over the world - but Camilla happens to have the same day of birth as the former German Chancellor Angela Merkel! These two ladies were both welcomed into the world on July 17th, just seven years apart.

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Michele Tantussi / Stringer via Getty Images

This year the Camilla turned 75, but she reportedly wasn't looking forward to the event. She opened up during her interview with 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."

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Re-Wears The Same Shoes

With a closet like hers, we'd expect Queen Camilla to be rocking a brand new outfit each time she stepped out the door. But despite her accessibility to whatever she wants, this gal chooses to wear the same pairs of shoes she's been wearing since at least the year she got married in 2005.

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Can we really blame her? It seems like these Chanel nude pumps with black toes suit basically every type of outfit. Or maybe she adores them because the iconic "CC" logo on the front could also stand for Camilla and Charles? Some say this reason is also why the late Princess Diana stayed away from wearing the luxury brand…

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She's Related to A-list Stars

Based on genealogical research, it looks like the Queen Consort shares blood with some of Hollywood's biggest stars! According to a study, Madonna, Angelina Jolie, Celine Dion, and Camilla all come from the same family tree. All 4 women were linked to a French Canadian couple from the 17th century.

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Oddly enough, she's also related to her husband. Charles and Camilla are 9th cousins once removed based on Ancestry.com, who showed they are both related to Henry Cavendish, second Duke of Newcastle. Also, Camilla's great-grandmother, Alice Keppel, was Charles' great-great-grandfather, King Edward VII's mistress…

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She Was Born a Commoner

Although Queen Camilla has family ties with Prince Charles and his Royal family, she was born as a commoner into an upper-class family in 1947. Her ancestors might have had some aristocratic heritage, but her parents, Bruce and Rosalind Shand, were not of Royal status.

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Perhaps this is one of the reasons why Prince Charles didn't marry Camilla back when he first met her in the early 70's - as he was reportedly pressured by his family to pick a wife with a high aristocratic background. Perhaps Camilla's grandfather being a baron just wasn't enough…

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Tragedy In Her Family

Camilla sadly lost her younger brother, Mark Shand, in a horrible way. In 2014, the travel writer and conservationist, who was 64 at the time, was in New York for a charity event when he suddenly fell over and hit his head. Tragically this accident took his life.

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After the news broke, Camilla and her husband Charles released an official statement where they expressed how they were “utterly devastated” about suddenly losing mark. Today Camilla only has her sister Annabel Elliot with her since their parents have also gone.

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Her Second Marriage

When Camilla and Charles started planning their wedding, they decided to have it at Windsor Castle, but sadly things didn't go as planned. Because it would mean the venue would need a license to perform weddings, which would give the public access to use it for other marriages.

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Tim Graham / Contributor via Getty Images

Eventually, they settled with the Windsor Guildhall for the civil ceremony and Saint Georges Chapel located inside the Windsor Castle for the blessing. Camilla stunned in a dress designed by Antonia Robinson and Anna Valentine. They explained that their goal was to give her dress a "crisp, clean look with subtle detailing."

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Their Wedding Almost Didn't Happen

Unfortunately, when the big day of April 9, 2005, arrived, Camilla was feeling under the weather. Based on reports by Vanity Fair, the bride was so sick with sinusitis that she could hardly move. Her energy only went up when her sister frightened her by saying she would put on the wedding gown. Yet that wasn't the only hurdle.

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The late Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip weren't at the ceremony, but they did attend the reception. The late Queen said, "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."

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The Late Queen Didn't Attend The Wedding

Although The Late Queen wasn't in favor of the relationship at first, she eventually came around when she noticed that her son was not going to give up his true love. The reason she wasn't in attendance for Prince Charles and Camilla's wedding ceremony was because of her position in power as the head of the Church of England.

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The newlyweds were not permitted to marry at the Church of England since both had been divorced and the Church frowns upon that. The Late Queen couldn't participate in the ceremony since she upholds those values. But she and her husband did host the reception at the Windsor Castle, showing her support.

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Her Royal Home

After the couple that waited forever to get married finally tied the knot, it was time to go home! As Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla, they resided in their Clarence House on the Mall in London, right in between Trafalgar Square and Buckingham Palace. That house had been in the family for a long time.

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After Queen Elizabeth 11 passed away, the question is, where will the new King and Queen live now? Although, nothing has been officially confirmed yet, it has been previously said that King Charles III and his wife would follow royal tradition and live in Buckingham Palace.

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The Late Queen Disapproved of Her

Back in the 1970s, when Camilla and Charles first met, his family disapproved of her becoming his wife as she was seen as unsuitable. That's why many believe the overseas mission he was sent on was a ploy to get him away from her. But despite the family's hesitance, the two love birds found their way back to each other.

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We can only imagine what The Late Queen first thought when Charles brought Camilla back around after his divorce from Princess Diana. They were star-crossed lovers that couldn't stay apart. And luckily, over time, Camilla's charming personality won them over.

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She Almost Didn't Become Queen

The Duchess of Cornwall chose her title out of respect for the late Princess Diana. But the title of Princess of Wales wasn't the only thing she rejected getting. After the wedding, the couple issued a statement that said she will "use the title HRH the Princess Consort when the Prince of Wales accedes to the throne."

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Camilla allegedly did this because, as the royal expert Marlene Koenig told Town & Country, "Camilla was not popular or well-liked." But as it turns out, things didn't exactly go as initially planned. Since her husband ascended the throne in September 2022, Camilla has become the Queen Consort, per the late Queen Elizabeth II's wishes.

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Royal Status Controversy

Although Camilla tried to respect the late Princess Diana and leave the public happy with her decision, she still ended up becoming Queen. As Constitutional Affairs Minister Christopher Leslie put it at the time, "This is absolutely unequivocal that she automatically becomes queen when [Prince Charles] becomes king."

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By now, people have also grown to adore Camilla. Penny Junor's book, The Duchess, revealed, "She 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." So it appears now that Princes Charles has been named King, things with Camilla's title have changed…

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Her 'British Vogue' Tell-All

From the looks of it, her popularity has blossomed over the years. Recently, she even managed to land an exclusive interview with British Vogue! No surprise, the article went viral as people enjoyed getting a glimpse into the secret life Camilla lives as a Royal.

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Tim Rooke via Shutterstock

One thing that interviewer Giles Hattersley learned was Camilla's love for fashion - and her aversion to fussiness. "I did have some [press-on] nails, but I lost them all gardening yesterday," she admitted. Yet she adores looking put together, which is why she often works alongside Jacqui Meakin (who also dressed The Queen Mother).

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Honored By the Late Queen

Camilla told Vogue about the many events she attended this past year, but one of the most exciting things that occurred was when the late Queen Elizabeth 11 celebrated her 70th year in power. During the celebrations, the Duchess of Cornwall received a great honor by finally getting a major seal of approval from The Late Queen.

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She revealed, "it is my sincere wish that, when that time comes, Camilla will be known as Queen Consort." Camilla and Charles 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."

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Family "Rivalries"

Camilla revealed to the Vogue interviewer who came to her home in London, "I do Wordle every day with my granddaughter. 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 giggled. 

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Camilla may have acquired huge responsibilities with her new royal status, but she still enjoys spending quality time with family and doing day-to-day things that everybody enjoys. She has two children with her ex-husband and a total of 5 grandkids - along with 5 step-grandkids from he husband's previous marriage.

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“Camilla Has Turned Public Perception”

She was once known as the "most hated woman in Britain." But over the years, Camilla has proved she's more than the woman who came in between Princess Diana and Prince Charles. "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.

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After all, there is more than meets the eyes with her. Not only do many people of Britain now admire her, but so do other members of the Royal family. Especially since her relationship with now-King Charles has also made it easier for future members of the monarchy to marry for love - rather than royalty.

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