From Teen Rebellion to "Camillagate" to Queen Consort — the True Story of Camilla Revealed
The new book reveals why she and King Charles are together, despite differences.
Viewers of Queen Elizabeth's funeral may have had a number of questions, ranging from family relationships to seating arrangements. One of the biggest, no doubt, is who is Camilla, the queen consort? The Telegraph recently published an excerpt from the new book Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall: From Outcast to Queen Consort, that attempts to answer that question. Camilla, who has been married to King Charles since 2005, has had a wild journey—from an object of international controversy in the '90s to today's working royal who has achieved widespread public acceptance. Here are five of the most interesting revelations about the wife of the UK's new king.
"When the Queen Consort was ten, she stated proudly in the classroom of Queen's Gate School, South Kensington, 'My great-grandmother (Alice Keppel) was the lover of the king. We're practically royalty,'" reports Levin, pointing out that the irony that Camilla would later become the mistress of the heir to the British throne. What's more: Charles and Camilla were delivered by the same obstetrician, 16 months apart.
"At ten, 'Milla' as she was known, became a weekly boarder at Queen's Gate School," writes Levin. "She was admired for being able to 'talk to boys about things that interested them', and although she wasn't a rebel, it's alleged she once climbed onto the school roof to have a sneaky cigarette."
Camilla was living in London during the swinging '60s. A friend and neighbor introduced her to Prince Charles in 1970. They dated for a "happy" 18 months before going their separate ways. Some sources say it was because Charles didn't want to get married so young or go against his family's advice on a bride. Camilla married Andrew Parker-Bowles in 1973; they had two children together and divorced in 1995.
But Camilla and Charles stayed in each other's lives, infamously, as Camilla was portrayed as the third wheel in the breakdown of Charles's fairy-tale marriage to Diana. In June 1993, several months after Charles and Diana separated, the "Camillagate" tapes were published, revealing Charles and Camilla's intimate conversations during his marriage. "The embarrassment was acute: Camilla said it was one of the worst days of her life," writes Levin. "King Charles was abroad, and she was unable to talk to him. Camilla became a prisoner in her own home." She also got heavy-breathing phone calls and death threats, including some from Princess Diana, Levin contends.
But the two persevered, stepping out in public together in 2000 and marrying in 2005. Although King Charles and the queen consort are in many ways opposites, they seem to have a true partnership built on understanding, Levin writes. "Charles was used to having staff doing everything for him. Camilla, on the other hand, a single mother of two, had to be self-sufficient. Charles never eats lunch; Camilla [does]. They have different temperaments, friends and hobbies. Charles is very sensitive and can easily get upset; Camilla is naturally positive. Yet they are natural soulmates. They understand each other's way of thinking and are accustomed to their trivial differences."