Camilla, Queen Consort facts for kids
Quick facts for kidsCamilla
Camilla in 2018
|Queen consort of the United Kingdom
and other Commonwealth realms
|Tenure||8 September 2022 – present|
|Coronation||6 May 2023|
|Born||Camilla Rosemary Shand
17 July 1947
King's College Hospital, London, England, United Kingdom
|House||Windsor (by marriage)|
Camilla (born Camilla Rosemary Shand, later Parker Bowles, 17 July 1947) is Queen of the United Kingdom and 14 other Commonwealth realms as the wife of King Charles III. Camilla became queen consort on 8 September 2022, upon the accession of her husband following the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II.
Early life and education
Camilla Rosemary Shand was born at King's College Hospital, London, on 17 July 1947. She grew up in The Laines—an 18th-century country house 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 and his wife The Hon. Rosalind Cubitt, daughter of Roland Cubitt, 3rd Baron Ashcombe. She has a younger sister, Annabel Elliot, and had a younger brother, Mark Shand. One of her maternal great-grandmothers, Alice Keppel, was a mistress of King Edward VII from 1898 to 1910. On 1 November 1947, Shand was baptised at St. Peter's Church, Firle , East Sussex. Her mother Rosalind was a charity worker, who volunteered at the Chailey Heritage Foundation (which helps young children with disabilities) in the 1960s and 1970s located at North Chailey, East Sussex, while her father had various 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, Shand became an avid reader through 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, going on to win rosettes at community gymkhanas. 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.
When she was five, Shand was sent to Dumbrells, a co-educational school in Ditchling village. She left Dumbrells at the age of 10 to attend Queen's Gate School in Queen's Gate, South Kensington. Her classmates at Queen's Gate knew her as "Milla"; her fellow pupils included the singer Twinkle (Lynn Ripley), who described her as a girl of "inner strength" exuding "magnetism and confidence". One of the teachers at the school, the writer Penelope Fitzgerald, who taught French, remembered Shand as "bright and lively". Shand left Queen's Gate with one O-level in 1964; her parents did not make her stay long enough for A-levels. Aged 16, she travelled to attend the Mon Fertile finishing school in Tolochenaz, Switzerland. After completing her course in Switzerland, she made her own decision and travelled to France to study French and French literature at the University of London Institute in Paris for six months.
On 25 March 1965, Shand was a debutante in London, one of 311 that year. After moving from home, she shared a small flat in Kensington with her friend Jane Wyndham, niece of decorator Nancy Lancaster. She later moved into a larger flat in Belgravia, which she shared with her landlady Lady Moyra Campbell, the daughter of the Duke of Abercorn, and later with Virginia Carington, daughter of the politician Peter Carington, 6th Baron Carrington. Virginia was married to Shand's uncle Henry Cubitt from 1973 until 1979 (and in 2005 became a special aide to Camilla and Prince Charles). Shand worked as a secretary for a variety of firms in the West End, and was later employed as a receptionist by the decorating firm Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler in Mayfair. She was reportedly fired from the job after "she came in late having been to a dance". She became a passionate horse-rider, and frequently attended equestrian activities. She also had a passion for painting, which eventually led to her private tutoring with an artist, although most of her work "ended up in the bin". Other interests were fishing, horticulture and gardening.
Marriages and children
In the late 1960s, Shand met Andrew Parker Bowles (then a Guards officer – a lieutenant in the Blues and Royals) through his younger brother, Simon, who worked for her father's wine firm in Mayfair. After an on-and-off relationship for years, Parker Bowles and Shand's engagement was announced in The Times in 1973. Sally Bedell Smith claimed that the announcement was sent out by the pair's parents without their knowledge, which forced Parker Bowles to propose. They married on 4 July 1973 in a Roman Catholic ceremony at the Guards Chapel, Wellington Barracks, in London. Shand was 25 years old and Parker Bowles 33. Her wedding dress was designed by British fashion house Bellville Sassoon, and the bridesmaids included Parker Bowles's goddaughter Lady Emma Herbert. It was considered the "society wedding of the year" with 800 guests. Royal guests present at the ceremony and reception included Queen Elizabeth II's daughter Anne, the Queen's sister Margaret, and Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.
The couple made their home in Wiltshire, purchasing Bolehyde Manor in Allington and later Middlewick House in Corsham. They had two children: Tom (born 18 December 1974), who is a godson of King Charles III, and Laura (born 1 January 1978).
In December 1994, after 21 years of marriage, the Parker Bowleses issued divorce proceedings on the grounds they had been living separately for years. Their petition was heard and granted in January 1995 at the High Court Family Division in London. The divorce was finalised on 3 March 1995.
Relationship with Charles
Camilla Shand reportedly met Prince Charles in mid-1971. Andrew Parker Bowles had ended his relationship with Shand in 1970 and was courting Princess Anne, Charles's sister. Though Shand and Charles belonged to the same social circle and occasionally attended the same events, they had not formally met. Their biographer Brandreth states the couple did not first meet at a polo match, as has been commonly believed. Instead, they first met at the home of their friend Lucía Santa Cruz, who formally introduced them. They became close friends and eventually began a romantic relationship, which was well known within their social circle.
There have been different explanations for why the couple's relationship ended. However, the majority of royal biographers have agreed that Charles would not have been allowed to marry Shand had he sought permission to do so. Shand and Charles remained friends.
On 10 February 2005, Clarence House announced that Parker Bowles and the Prince of Wales were engaged; as an engagement ring, Charles gave Parker Bowles a diamond ring that was believed to have been given to his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, when she gave birth to Charles's mother. The ring comprised a square-cut diamond with three diamond baguettes on each side. The Queen, Prime Minister Tony Blair, and Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams offered their best wishes in statements to the media. In the two months following the announcement of their engagement, Clarence House received 25,000 letters with "95 or 99 per cent being supportive"; 908 hate mail letters were also received, with the more threatening and personal ones sent to the police for investigation.
The marriage was to have been on 8 April 2005, and was to take place in a civil ceremony at Windsor Castle, with a subsequent religious service of blessing at St George's Chapel. However, to conduct a civil marriage at Windsor Castle would oblige the venue to obtain a licence for civil marriages, which it did not have. A condition of such a licence is that the licensed venue must be available for a period of one year to anyone wishing to be married there, and as the royal family did not wish to make Windsor Castle available to the public for civil marriages, the venue was changed to the town hall at Windsor Guildhall. On 4 April, it was announced that the marriage would be delayed by one day to allow the Prince of Wales and some of the invited dignitaries to attend the funeral of Pope John Paul II.
On 9 April 2005, the marriage ceremony was held. The parents of Charles and Camilla did not attend; instead, Camilla's son Tom and Charles's son Prince William acted as witnesses to the union. The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh did attend the service of blessing. Afterwards, a reception was held by the Queen for the newlyweds at Windsor Castle. Performers included the St George's Chapel Choir, the Philharmonia Orchestra, and Welsh composer Alun Hoddinott. As a wedding gift, The Marinsky Theatre Trust in St. Petersburg brought a Belarusian mezzo-soprano singer, Ekaterina Semenchuk, to the UK to perform a special song for the couple. Following the wedding, the couple travelled to the Prince's country home in Scotland, Birkhall, and carried out their first public duties together during their honeymoon.
Duchess of Cornwall
After becoming Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla automatically acquired rank as the second highest woman in the British order of precedence (after Queen Elizabeth II), and as typically fifth or sixth in the orders of precedence of her other realms, following the Queen, the relevant viceroy, the Duke of Edinburgh, and the Prince of Wales. It was revealed that the Queen altered the royal order of precedence for private occasions, placing the Duchess fourth, after the Queen, the Princess Royal, and Princess Alexandra. Within two years of the marriage, the Queen extended Camilla visible tokens of membership in the royal family: she lent Camilla the Greville Tiara, which previously belonged to the Queen Mother, and granted her the badge of the Royal Family Order of Elizabeth II.
After their wedding, Clarence House, the official residence of Prince Charles, also became Camilla's official residence. The couple also stay at Birkhall for holiday events, and Highgrove House in Gloucestershire for family gatherings. In 2008, they took up residence at Llwynywermod, Wales, where they stay on their visit to Wales every year in the summer and for other occasions. To spend time alone with her children and grandchildren, Camilla still maintains her home Ray Mill House, in which she resided from 1995 to 2003.
According to an undated statement from Clarence House, Camilla used to be a smoker but has not smoked for many years. Though no details were publicly released, it was confirmed in March 2007 that Camilla had undergone a hysterectomy. In April 2010, she fractured her left leg while hill walking in Scotland. In November 2010, Camilla and Charles were indirectly involved in student protests when their car was attacked by protesters. Clarence House later released a statement on the incident: "A car carrying Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall was attacked by protesters but the couple were unharmed." On 9 April 2012, the seventh wedding anniversary of the Duchess and the Prince of Wales, the Queen appointed the Duchess to the Royal Victorian Order. In 2015, the Prince of Wales commissioned a pub to be named after the Duchess situated at Poundbury village. The pub opened in 2016 and is named the Duchess of Cornwall Inn. On 9 June 2016, the Queen appointed the Duchess as a member of the British Privy Council. On 1 January 2022, she made Camilla a Royal Lady of the Most Noble Order of the Garter. On 14 February 2022, Camilla tested positive for COVID-19, four days after husband had also contracted it, and began self-isolating. She and her husband received their first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine in February 2021. In March 2022 and amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Camilla made a "substantial" donation to the Daily Mail's refugee campaign.
Foreign and domestic trips
Camilla's first solo engagement as Duchess of Cornwall was a visit to Southampton General Hospital; she attended the Trooping the Colour for the first time in June 2005, making her appearance on the balcony of Buckingham Palace afterwards. The Duchess made her inaugural overseas tour in November 2005, when she visited the United States, and met President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush at the White House. Afterward they visited New Orleans to see the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and met some of the residents whose lives were changed drastically by the hurricane. In March 2006, the couple visited Egypt, Saudi Arabia and India. In 2007, she conducted the naming ceremonies for HMS Astute and the new Cunard cruise ship, MS Queen Victoria. In November 2007, she toured with the Prince of Wales on a four-day visit to Turkey. In 2008, she and the Prince of Wales toured the Caribbean, Japan, Brunei and Indonesia. In 2009, they toured Chile, Brazil, Ecuador, Italy and Germany. Their visit to the Holy See in Italy included a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI. They later visited Canada. In early 2010, they visited Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland. Camilla was unable to carry out her engagements on their tour of Eastern Europe after developing a trapped nerve in her back. In October 2010, she accompanied the Prince of Wales to Delhi, India, for the opening of the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
In March 2011, the Duchess and the Prince of Wales visited Portugal, Spain, and Morocco, visiting the heads of state of each country. In June 2011, the Duchess alone represented the British royal family at the 125th Wimbledon Tennis Championships in Wimbledon. In August 2011, the Duchess accompanied the Prince of Wales to Tottenham to visit the aftermath of the London riots. The couple later went to visit with Tottenham residents in February 2012, meeting with local shop owners six months after the riots to see how they were doing. In London on 11 September 2011, the Duchess attended the 10th anniversary memorial service of the 9/11 attacks, along with Prime Minister David Cameron and the Prince of Wales. In November 2011, the Duchess travelled with the Prince of Wales to tour the Commonwealth and Arab States of the Persian Gulf. They toured South Africa and Tanzania, and met with those countries' respective presidents, Jacob Zuma and Jakaya Kikwete.
In March 2012, the Duchess and the Prince of Wales visited Norway, Sweden and Denmark to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. In May 2012, the royal couple undertook a four-day trip to Canada as part of the jubilee celebrations. In November 2012, the Duchess and the Prince of Wales visited Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea for a two-week jubilee tour. During the Australian tour, they attended the 2012 Melbourne Cup, where the Duchess presented the Melbourne cup to the winner of the race. In 2013, they went on a tour to Jordan and met with King Abdullah II and his wife, Queen Rania. They visited Syrian refugee camps of the civil war. The Duchess attended the State Opening of Parliament for the first time in May 2013, and the same month, she travelled to Paris on her first solo trip outside the UK. That same year, they attended the inauguration of Dutch King Willem-Alexander, as well as the preceding celebrations in honour of the departing Queen Beatrix.
In June 2014, the Duchess and the Prince of Wales attended the 70th anniversary celebrations of D-Day in Normandy, France, and in November of that year, they embarked on a nine-day tour to Mexico and Colombia. In May 2015, the Duchess and the Prince of Wales visited Northern Ireland and undertook their first joint trip to the Republic of Ireland. In April 2018, the couple toured Australia and attended the opening of the 2018 Commonwealth Games. They also toured the West African countries of The Gambia, Ghana and Nigeria in November 2018. In March 2019, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall went on an official tour to Cuba, making them the first British royalty to visit the country; the tour was part of offers to strengthen UK-Cuban ties. In March 2021, the couple went on their first official foreign visit since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and visited Greece at the invitation of the Greek government to celebrate the bicentennial of Greek independence. In March 2022, they visited the Republic of Ireland to commemorate the Queen's Platinum Jubilee. In May 2022, the royal couple undertook a three-day trip to Canada as part of the Jubilee celebrations.
Camilla became queen consort on 8 September 2022 upon her husband's accession as King, following the death of Queen Elizabeth II. On 10 September 2022, Camilla attended the Accession Council where Charles III was formally proclaimed King, where she served as a witness together with her stepson Prince William. The coronation of Charles III and Camilla is due to take place on 6 May 2023.
Charities and patronages
Camilla is the patron of, among other entities, the Poppy Factory, St Catherine's School, Bramley, Animal Care Trust, The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, British Forces Broadcasting Service, British Equestrian Federation, Dundurn Castle, New Queen's Hall Orchestra, St John's Smith Square, London Chamber Orchestra, Elmhurst School for Dance, Trinity Hospice, Georgian Theatre Royal, Arthritis Research UK, The Girls' Friendly Society, Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases, Plumpton College Charitable Foundation, Elephant Family (joint president with the King), Friends of the Royal Academy of Arts, Maggie's Cancer Caring Centres, Cornwall Air Ambulance Trust, and Wiltshire Air Ambulance, as well as president or patron of other charities. She is also the patron of a non-British body, the P. G. Wodehouse Society of The Netherlands.
Camilla is the honorary Commodore-in-Chief of the Royal Navy Medical Service. In this role, she visited the training-ship HMS Excellent in January 2012, to award medals to naval medical teams returning from service in Afghanistan. She is also an honorary member of other patronages and in February 2012, she was elected a bencher of Gray's Inn. In February 2013, she was appointed Chancellor of the University of Aberdeen, a role which is ceremonial and involves conferring graduates with their degrees and took up the office in June 2013. She is the first female chancellor of the University of Aberdeen and only member of the royal family to hold the post since it was created in 1860.
In 2015, her presidency of the Women of the World Festival, an annual festival that celebrates the achievements of women and girls as well as looking at the obstacles they face across the world, notably domestic violence, was announced. In 2018 and 2020, she became the vice-patron of the Royal Commonwealth Society and the Royal Academy of Dance, respectively, of which Queen Elizabeth II was patron. In March 2022, as President of the Royal Voluntary Service, Camilla launched the organisation's Platinum Champions Awards to honour 70 volunteers nominated by the public for their efforts in improving lives in their communities. In the same month she was made patron of London's National Theatre by Queen Elizabeth II, a role previously held by her stepdaughter-in-law, the Duchess of Sussex.
In 1994, Camilla became a member of the National Osteoporosis Society after her mother died painfully from the disease that year. Her maternal grandmother also died from the disease in 1986. She became patron of the charity in 1997 and was appointed president in 2001 in a highly publicised event, accompanied by the Prince of Wales. In 2002, she launched a mini book, A Skeleton Guide to a Healthy You, Vitamins and Minerals which aims to help women protect themselves from the disease. The following month, she attended the Roundtable of International Women Leaders to Examine Barriers to Reimbursement for Diagnosis and Treatment of Osteoporosis conference along with 13 eminent women from around the world. The event was organised by the International Osteoporosis Foundation and hosted by Queen Rania of Jordan and during it, she made her first public speech. The international conference which took place in Lisbon, Portugal, brought together worldwide public figures to focus on osteoporosis treatment and called for government assistance around the world. In 2004, she attended another conference in Dublin, organised by the Irish Osteoporosis Society and the following year visited the National Institutes of Health in Maryland, U.S. to give a presentation on osteoporosis to high-profile health figures.
In 2006, Camilla launched the Big Bone walk campaign, leading 90 children and people with osteoporosis for a 10-mile walk and climb around Loch Muick at the Balmoral Estate in Scotland to raise money for the charity. The campaign raised £200,000, and continues almost every year as one of the fundraisers for the charity. In 2011, she appeared in the BBC Radio drama The Archers, playing herself, to raise the profile of the disease, and in 2013 teamed up with the television series Strictly Come Dancing to raise funds for the National Osteoporosis Society. By 2006 she had spoken at more than 60 functions on the disease in the UK and around the world and had also opened bone scanning units and osteoporosis centres to help people with the disease. Almost every year, Camilla attends and partakes in World Osteoporosis Day, by attending events around the UK on 20 October. She continues to attend conferences around the world, and meets with health experts to further discuss the disease.
For her work on raising awareness of osteoporosis around the world, Camilla was honoured with an Ethel LeFrak award in 2005 from an American charity and received the Kohn Foundation Award in 2007 from the National Osteoporosis Society. In July 2007, the Duchess opened the Duchess of Cornwall Centre for Osteoporosis at the Royal Cornwall Hospital, Truro. The same year, King's College London awarded her an honorary fellowship for raising the profile of osteoporosis. In 2009, the National Osteoporosis Society created The Duchess of Cornwall Award, which recognises achievements in the field of osteoporosis. In 2016, she received an honorary doctorate from the University of Southampton. In 2019, the National Osteoporosis Society was renamed as the Royal Osteoporosis Society.
Being an avid reader, Camilla is an advocate for literacy. She is the patron of the National Literacy Trust and other literacy charities. She often visits schools, libraries and children organisations to read to young children. Additionally, she partakes in literacy celebrations, including International Literacy Day and World Book Day. In 2011, she attended the Hay Festival to support children literacy and while there, she donated books to the Oxfam bookshops. In the same year, she donated money to support the Evening Standard's literacy campaign. The Duchess has also launched and continues to launch campaigns and programmes to promote literacy. On spreading literacy, Camilla stated in 2013 during a speech at an event for the National Literacy Trust that "I firmly believe in the importance of igniting a passion for reading in the next generation. I was lucky enough to have a father who was a fervent bibliophile and a brilliant storyteller too. In a world where the written word competes with so many other calls on our attention, we need more Literacy Heroes to keep inspiring young people to find the pleasure and power of reading for themselves."
Camilla has been patron of the Queen's Commonwealth Essay Competition since 2014. The initiative, which is run by the Royal Commonwealth Society, asks young writers from across the Commonwealth to write essays on a specified theme with the Duchess launching the competition annually. Since 2015, Camilla has been involved with 500 Words, a competition launched by BBC Radio 2 for children to write and share their stories and was announced as the competition's honorary judge in 2018. Since 2019 Camilla has supported Gyles Brandreth's initiative Poetry Together, which aims to bring younger and older generations together through poetry recitation. In January 2021, she launched the Reading Room online club for readers, writers and literary communities to connect and share their interests and projects. In October 2021, she was announced as patron of Silver Stories, a charity that links young people to the elderly by encouraging them to read stories over telephone. In January 2022, she joined members of the Reading Room initiative to promote planting books in phonebox libraries around the UK.
Camilla is a supporter of animal welfare and patron of many animal welfare charities including Battersea Dogs & Cats Home and president of Brooke Hospital for Animals. She often visits other animal shelters to show her support and to see how the animals are cared for. In 2011, she adopted a rescue puppy, a Jack Russell Terrier named Beth from Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, and in 2012 adopted another named Bluebell from the shelter. Also in 2012, she opened two veterinary facilities at the University of Bristol's School of Veterinary Sciences at Langford in Somerset, which provide treatment to sick animals. In 2015, Camilla worked with department store Fortnum & Mason to sell 250 jars of honey produced by bees in her private garden in Wiltshire; the jars, priced at £20, sold out in two weeks and the proceeds were donated to the Medical Detection Dogs charity, of which she is patron. Since then, the Duchess sends a limited edition of honey every year to Fortnum & Mason, with proceeds donated to her other charities.
She supports organisations around the world working to combat poverty and homelessness. She is the patron of Emmaus UK, and in 2013 during her solo trip to Paris, she went to see the work done by the charity in that city. Every year around Christmas, she visits Emmaus communities across the UK.
Titles, styles, honours and arms
Titles and styles
Upon marrying Charles, Camilla became known as "Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall". In Scotland she was known as "Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Rothesay". Legally, Camilla was Princess of Wales but adopted the feminine form of her husband's highest-ranking subsidiary title, Duke of Cornwall, because the title Princess of Wales became strongly associated with its previous holder, Diana. In 2021, upon the death of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Charles inherited his father's titles, and Camilla thus became Duchess of Edinburgh.
Clarence House stated on the occasion of Charles and Camilla's wedding in 2005 that, upon his accession, she would adopt the style of princess consort instead of that of a queen, but there is no legal or historical precedent for such a title. In her 2022 Accession Day message, published to mark the 70th anniversary of her reign, Elizabeth II stated that it was her "sincere wish" for Camilla to be known as queen consort upon Charles's accession to the throne.
Since Charles III's accession, Camilla has been styled "Her Majesty The Queen Consort". Buckingham Palace has stated that whether Camilla will eventually be known as "Her Majesty The Queen", as queen consorts traditionally are, is "a question for the future".
She is a Royal Lady of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, recipient of the Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth II and a member of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom.
|Tom Parker Bowles||18 December 1974||10 September 2005
|Sara Buys||Lola Parker Bowles
Freddy Parker Bowles
|Laura Parker Bowles||1 January 1978||6 May 2006||Harry Lopes||Eliza Lopes