Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, GCVO, CSM, PC (née Camilla Rosemary Shand, previously Parker Bowles; born 17 July 1947), is the second wife of Charles, Prince of Wales, the heir apparent to the British throne. Instead of using the title of Princess of Wales, she uses the title Duchess of Cornwall, her husband’s secondary designation. In Scotland, she is known as the Duchess of Rothesay. In the event of Charles acceding to the throne, Camilla would become a queen consort; however, an official statement issued by Clarence House on the day of her marriage to Charles announced that she would be known as the Princess Consort.
Camilla is the eldest child of Major Bruce Shand and his wife Rosalind Cubitt, the daughter of Roland Cubitt, 3rd Baron Ashcombe. She was raised in East Sussex and South Kensington, and educated in England, Switzerland and France. She worked for different firms in central London, most notably the decorating firm Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler. In 1973, Camilla married British Army officer Andrew Parker Bowles, with whom she has two children. They divorced in 1995.
Camilla was in a relationship with the Prince of Wales before, during and after their former marriages. The relationship became highly publicised in the media and attracted worldwide scrutiny. In 2005, it culminated in a civil marriage at Windsor Guildhall, which was followed by a televised Anglican blessing by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.
As Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla assists the Prince of Wales on his official duties. She is also the patron, president and a member of numerous charities and organisations. Since 1994, she has taken action on osteoporosis, earning honours and awards. She has also raised awareness in areas including rape and sexual abuse, literacy and poverty, for which she has latterly been praised.
Camilla Rosemary Shand was born at King’s College Hospital, London, on 17 July 1947. She grew up in the Laines, a country house located in Plumpton, East Sussex, and a three-storey house in South Kensington, her family’s second home.
Her parents were British Army officer turned businessman Major Bruce Shand (1917–2006) and his wife, the Hon. Rosalind (née Cubitt; 1921–1994), an adoption worker. She has one younger sister, Annabel Elliot, and had a younger brother, Mark Shand (1951–2014), Her maternal great-grandmother, Alice Keppel, was a mistress of King Edward VII from 1898 to 1910. On 1 November 1947, Camilla was baptised at Firle Church, Sussex. Camilla’s mother worked for an adoption agency, while her father had different business interests after retiring from the army. He was most notably a partner in Block, Grey and Block, a firm of wine merchants in South Audley Street, Mayfair, later joining Ellis, Son and Vidler of Hastings and London.
During her childhood years, Camilla became an avid reader due to the influence of her father, who read to her frequently. She grew up with dogs and cats, and, at a young age, learnt how to ride a pony by joining Pony Club camps. According to her, childhood “was perfect in every way”. Biographer Gyles Brandreth describes her background and childhood:
Camilla is often described as having had an “Enid Blyton sort of Childhood”. In fact, it was much grander than that. Camilla, as a little girl, may have had some personality traits of George, the tomboy girl among the Famous Five, but Enid Blyton’s children were essentially middle-class children and The Shands, without question, belonged to the upper class. The Shands had position and they had help—help in the house, help in the garden, help with children. They were gentry. They opened their garden for the local Conservative Party Association summer fête. Enough said.