Secrets You Never Knew About Camilla Parker Bowles, Duchess of Cornwall
Camilla Parker Bowles, the Duchess of Cornwall, is famously married to Prince Charles. The pair got off to a rocky start and she's historically been blamed for his failed marriage to Princess Diana. Yet, their love for one another superseded public perception, and they've been happily married for over a decade.
Over the years royal watchers and the Queen herself have warmed up to Camilla. She's fun, outgoing, charitable and passionate about her projects. But there are some things you may not know about the duchess. Check out some fascinating facts about the woman who swept the future King of England off his feet when they first met over 40 years ago...
Camilla and Charles Travel With a Secret Stash of Booze
Charles and Camilla carry their own alcohol with them when they travel. According to journalist Gordon Rayner, who has been a part of 20 royal tours, the pair brings a secret stash of alcohol with them for a very good reason. “Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall sometimes take their own alcohol so there’s no danger of their drinks being spiked,” he told Conde Nast Traveler.
Bodyguards actually hold the alcohol when the couple travels. “Their police bodyguard will discreetly carry a bag of their drinks,” said Rayner. He noted that Charles’s favorite drink is a gin and tonic while Camilla prefers red wine.
One of Her Go-To Beauty Products Is Bee Venom
Women do all sorts of things for their beauty regimens, but some like Camilla choose unusual products to look youthful. She reportedly uses Deborah Mitchell's Heaven Skincare products, which include bee venom as an ingredient. The products are an alternative to Botox and are touted as a non-surgical facelift.
The bee venom serum allegedly has ingredients that aid in plumping and smoothing the skin's texture, eliminating fine lines. Plant extracts such as watercress, stinging nettle, and horsetail aid in revitalizing the skin. When it was revealed that Camilla used Skin Chemists' Bee Venom Facial Serum, pre-orders for the product soared in Great Britain.
The Palace Didn't Think She Was Virginal Enough For Prince Charles
Camilla met Prince Charles in the early seventies through a mutual friend. The pair had an instant connection, yet they were separated when Charles left for the Royal Navy in 1973. In the meantime, Camilla got engaged to her on-again-off-again boyfriend Andrew Parker Bowles.
Still, the Palace would not have approved the union had the pair decided to make a go of it. First, Camilla did not have an aristocratic background, which was a big deal to the powers that be. Second, she had been around the block, so to speak. She wasn't "virginal" enough to marry the future King of England (remember, it was the '70s and women still had a way to go for equality).
She's Related to Madonna, Angelina Jolie, and Even Prince Charles
Thanks to genealogical research, people learn all sorts of secrets about their ancestors and who they're related to. Camilla shares roots with singers Madonna and Celine Dion as well as actress Angelina Jolie. All of them are linked to a 17th-century French Canadian couple. Camilla and Charles also share an ancestor, Henry Cavendish, second Duke of Newcastle (making them ninth cousins once removed).
It gets even juicier. Camilla's great-grandmother, Alice Keppel, and Charles’ great-great-grandfather King Edward VII were lovers! There's been some gossip that Camilla's grandmother Sonia was King Edward's illegitimate daughter, which would make Charles and Camilla half-second cousins once removed.
She's Afraid of Flying
The Duchess of Cornwall and Prince Charles are very busy with their duties and travel often. But Camilla isn't a big fan of traveling because she has a fear of flying. Not too long ago she opted out of accompanying her husband to several locations in Australia and the South Pacific. She did, however, go to the Commonwealth Games in Brisbane, Australia.
Whenever possible, Camilla avoids extra travel. The Express reports that the Duchess copes with her fear by using a tapping method called EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique). If that enables Camilla to complete her duties, more power to her!
She Didn't Meet The Queen For 30 Years and Was Once Banned From The Palace
Camilla and Charles became cozy in the early '70s, but Camilla didn't meet her future mother-in-law until 2000. The pair's extramarital affair was a huge embarrassment to the crown and ruined Charles and Princess Diana's marriage. The Queen was so angry with Camilla she even banned her from the palace for a time.
Eventually, the Queen changed her tune and allowed Camilla into her life. The Queen even said on their wedding day: “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.”
Her Reason for Loving Chanel Is Sweet, But Princess Diana Ardently Avoided the Designer
Camilla is a big fan of Chanel, which is known for its iconic double "C" logo. One reason she may like the designer so much is because the two Cs could represent Charles and Camilla. It's been rumored that Princess Diana avoided Chanel for that very reason.
One of Camilla's favorite pairs of shoes is her Chanel cream pumps with black toes (as seen in the photo above). She's been wearing them since 2005, according to Footwear News. They are no longer available to purchase, so either Camilla bought multiple pairs or she simply takes very good care of the ones she has.
She Was Terribly Sick the Day She Married Prince Charles
On April 9, 2005, Camilla wed Prince Charles. She was also incredibly sick with sinusitis, and she had a difficult time functioning. According to Vanity Fair, her sister Annabel was instrumental in getting Camilla out of bed to make it to the ceremony. Camilla and Charles, who were both divorced, wed in a civil ceremony instead of the Church of England.
The pair received a church blessing at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle wed 13 years later. The Queen learned over time that the pair was meant to be and gave them her blessing.
Her Official Title Is Enormous and She Doesn't Use 'Princess Of Wales' for a Good Reason
Camilla and Charles tied the knot in a somewhat low-key ceremony in 2005. As is the tradition, Queen Elizabeth II granted her a title. Camilla became Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall. Her exact title, however, is much longer.
She is known as Her Royal Highness The Princess Charles Philip Arthur George, Princess of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall, Duchess of Rothesay, Countess of Chester, Countess of Carrick, Baroness of Renfrew, Lady of the Isles, Princess of Scotland, Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order. She avoids using The Princess of Wales in public because of its strong connection to the late Princess Diana.
She Will Probably Never Be Queen
When the people first learned of Camilla's involvement in Charles' life, she faced a lot of animosities. Princess Diana was so loved that Camilla was perceived as an interloper. Over time, Camilla was able to win over the public, and many wondered when she wed Charles if she would eventually be granted the title of Queen.
When the pair wed, they promised she would not become Queen in order to appease their royal subjects. Their wedding announcement read, “It is intended that Mrs. Parker Bowles should use the title HRH the Princess Consort when the Prince of Wales accedes to the throne.”
Her Brother Died In a Freak Accident
In 2014, Camilla lost her brother in a freak accident. Mark Shand, a travel writer and conservationist, was outside a charity event in New York City when he fell and struck his head. He was just 62 years old. Camilla and Charles noted in a statement that they were "utterly devastated" by the loss.
Camilla's mother died in 1994 at age 72 from osteoporosis, a devastating disease that also took her grandmother's life. Camilla said of her mother's passing: “My family and I watched in horror as my mother quite literally shrank in front of our eyes." Camilla later become president of the UK’s National Osteoporosis Society.
She Loves Outdoor Activities, Particularly Gardening
While Princess Diana was beloved by the people for her caring and generosity, she had a difficult time embracing sports such as horseback riding and skiing, which other members of the royal family loved. Camilla, unlike her husband's ex, has always loved outdoor activities. She enjoys nature so much, she often retreats to Raymill in the country when she needs a break from public life.
One of her favorite pastimes is gardening. During an event for British charity Floral Angels, she told the media, “I’d be out in my garden all day, every day if I were allowed, I love to get my hands dirty.”
She Loves Talking and Is Very Sociable
Camilla is an extrovert and likes being social — traits she got from her upbringing. She told The Daily Mail, “I remember once there was a dinner party at home with some of the most boring neighbors in the world and we were dragged down to join them for dinner."
She continued: "[My mother would] sit us down at the dinner table, and the minute there was silence, she used to say, 'Talk! I don’t care what you talk about, talk about your budgie [parakeet] or your pony but keep the conversation going.' And so I’ve never been able not to talk. It’s in the psyche, not to leave a silence.”
She Has a Good Sense of Humor But Tries Not to Laugh In Inappropriate Situations
Camilla loves having a good time, but she sometimes has to contain herself. During an interview with The Daily Mail she said, “You’ve got to laugh through most things, and sometimes I do laugh a bit too much.
"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]. You do have to swallow and pinch yourself very hard to not laugh. You have to laugh at yourself because if you can’t, you may as well give up!”
Her Marriage to Charles Softened the Palace's Stance on Relationships
Even though it was difficult, Camilla stood by Charles' side despite being criticized for their relationship. Many people would have folded under the pressure. Their divorces and subsequent marriage changed the monarchy's (and the public's) view on relationships. Kate Middleton was a commoner before marrying Prince William, for example.
American actress Meghan Markle was also a divorcee (and half African American) when she started dating, and eventually marrying, Prince Harry. Camilla said upon their engagement: “We are all absolutely delighted. As you can see, they’re so happy. Sometimes in a climate where we’re surrounded by a lot of bad news, it’s a real joy to have a bit of good news for once.”
A Portrait of Her First Husband, Andrew Parker Bowles, Sold for $35 Million at Auction
In 2015, a Lucian Freud portrait of Andrew Parker Bowles — the ex-husband of the Duchess of Cornwall — sold for $34.9 million at Christie’s. Camilla and the retired British Army officer divorced in 1995 after 22 years of marriage. The pair had a son and daughter together. He married his second wife, Rosemary Pitman, in 1996. Her ex and Rosemary both attended Camilla and Charles' wedding in 2005.
The painting was very popular among several bidders. They appeared in person and on the telephone and drove the price of the artwork up to $34.9 million. The final price was quite a bit higher than the $30 million pre-auction estimate.
Her Ex-Husband Once Dated Charles' Sister, Princess Anne
In the early '70s, Camilla's soon-to-be husband, Andrew Parker Bowles, dated Prince Charles' sister, Princess Anne. Anne is currently 13th in line to the throne. Anne wed Captain Mark Phillips in 1973, and they divorced in 1992. A few months later, she married Commander (now Vice Admiral) Sir Timothy Laurence.
Andrew and Camilla tied the knot in 1973. Meanwhile, Andrew and Charles knew each other and played on the same polo team in the '70s and '80s. After Andrew divorced Camilla, he married his lover, Rosemary Pitman. She died of cancer 2010 at the age of 69.
She's an Animal Lover and Rescued Two Dogs
Camilla loves pets, and one of her passion projects is animal welfare. She is a patron of Battersea Dog and Cats. She is pictured above with her two Jack Russell terriers, Bluebell and Beth. She adopted Bluebell as a puppy in 2012. He was a nine-week-old stray who was found wandering in a park in London in 2011.
She also adopted Beth, a three-month-old puppy who ended up at Battersea as an unwanted puppy. Battersea took in its first stray dog in 1860. Since then, they've taken in more than 3 million animals. They care for 7,000 animals each year.
The Queen Honored Camilla In a Major Way In 2015
Queen Elizabeth may not have always approved of her son's relationship with Camilla, but over time she had a change of heart. So much so, she granted the duchess a major honor a few years ago. In 2015, Camilla was appointed to the highest female rank of the Royal Victorian Order by the Queen.
After receiving this honor, Camilla was granted the title Dame Grand Cross, which signified that the Queen had truly accepted Camilla as her daughter in law. The Royal Victorian Order is rewarded to those who have granted personal services to the monarch. Queen Victoria instituted the custom in 1896.
She Uses eBay (For Charity)
As you probably know, the royal family loves watching tennis. And they particularly enjoy going to Wimbledon. In 2015, Scottish player Andy Murray threw a signed wristband into the audience at Camilla. Instead of keeping the bracelet as a memento, she decided to do something good with it.
She put the wristband up on the auction website eBay, and it sold for 2,100 pounds. She took Murray's advice and donated the proceeds to the Royal Veterinary College Animal Care Trust. Camilla became a Patron of the organization in 2005. Three years later she opened the redevelopment project that upgraded the Queen Mother Hospital’s facilities.