July 17, 2022, will be the birthday of Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall LG, GCVO, CSM, PC. She will be celebrating 75 years.
“Who wants to be 75, really, but there’s nothing we can do about it,” she told Vogue magazine. Her aristocratic tone – the sort only achieved by being born at a certain point in time and class – can have the bonus of making her sound deliciously dry. “That’s life.”
She is married to Charles, Prince of Wales, heir apparent to the British throne, and should he succeed, Camilla would automatically become queen consort.
Earlier this year, the 96-year-old Queen Elizabeth II, who celebrated her Platinum Jubilee this month, chose to make it known that her “sincere wish” is for Prince Charles’s wife of 17 years to be known as Queen Consort “when the time comes”.
When Camilla first met Prince Charles over 50 years ago, it was in 1971 that the star-crossed lovers are thought to have initially clapped eyes on each other during a polo match.
After introducing herself as Camilla Shand, the then 24-year-old allegedly said to the future king: “You know, sir, my great-grandmother was the mistress of your great-great-grandfather, so, how about it?” Charles, who was 23 at the time, was reportedly left speechless.
According to The Crown it didn’t quite happen like that. While they did frequently meet on the fringes of polo matches in the early 1970s, as their biographer Gyles Brandreth discovered, they were first introduced by Lucia Santa Cruz, the glamorous daughter of the former Chilean ambassador.
Regardless of what Camilla may or may not have said, as Brandreth wrote in his 2005 book Portrait of a Love Affair: “The attraction between Charles and Camilla was immediate and mutual, and passionate.”
In many ways, it was the perfect match, and yet Camilla ended up marrying army officer Andrew Parker Bowles in 1973, after having had a lengthy on-off relationship with him.
In 2005, the Queen’s cousin and Charles’s godmother, Patricia Mountbatten, revealed: “With hindsight, you can say that Charles should have married Camilla when he first had the chance. They were ideally suited, we know that now. But it wasn’t possible. It wouldn’t have been possible, not then.”
Nevertheless, they remained friends and rekindled their romance – apparently with Brigadier Parker Bowles’s blessing. Camilla’s first marriage was dissolved in 1995. Mrs Parker Bowles was in the congregation at St Paul’s Cathedral when Charles married Lady Diana Spencer in 1981.
In a 1994 interview with Jonathan Dimbleby, the Prince insisted he and Camilla only embarked on an affair after his marriage with Diana had “irretrievably broken down”, but it is now widely believed that they had relit the fires before Diana walked down the aisle.
Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall will attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) which takes place in Kigali, Rwanda during the week of 20 June.