Duchess Camilla celebrates her 75th birthday. Prince Charles’ wife looks back on a life of contempt for her person.
Her Royal Highness Camilla Rosemary, Duchess of Cornwall is celebrating her birthday. This Sunday (July 17th) the wife of the British heir to the throne Prince Charles (73) will be 75 years old. That’s why they won’t be eulogized in England, which is actually a good sign. Just a few years ago, Camilla could have been sure that even on her birthday she would have plenty of verbal smut being poured out about her as she happened to be the most hated woman in the UK.
For decades she was seen as the negative antithesis to the radiant cult goddess Princess Diana (1961-1997). As the Viennese newspaper “Der Standard” accurately analyzed, Camilla was the woman who “destroyed a fairy tale and torpedoed a beautiful, romantic love”.
Camilla and Diana: A “history of misogyny”?
According to the commentator, it is by no means just about the widespread image of this woman, but the story of Camilla is “a universal story of misogyny. One story among many that arise when men have a relationship and noble step into the background while a “catfight” is staged between the women involved”.
Camilla was born with this emotional association, if you will. The daughter of a career officer and Vice Lord Lieutenants of East Sussex (administrative representative of the British monarchy in the county of East Sussex) is the great-granddaughter of Alice Keppel (1869-1947), the famous mistress of King Edward VII (1841-1910), a great-great-grandfather by Prince Charles. This Alice Keppel had an immense influence on the ruler.
Alice Keppel was in turn married to the officer George Keppel. When she gave birth to their daughter Sonia – Camilla’s maternal grandmother – in 1901, Edward was also considered as a father. So it could well be that Camilla and Charles, who is a year younger, are related to each other. This episode in her family tree was mentioned with relish from the start when it came to Camilla’s vita.
Who was the actual victim?
However, if you correctly classify the facts and processes, a different picture emerges: then Camilla is first of all in the role of the victim. She was the woman who had to give up herself and was deprived of the love of her life for years. And this story goes way back to the late 1960s.
At the time, young Camilla had as a friend Andrew Parker Bowles (82), a career officer who was eight years her senior and came from a respected aristocratic family. He and Prince Charles knew each other, they rode on the same polo team. In 1970, Parker Bowles fell in love with Charles’s sister, Princess Anne (71), and dumped Camilla. In the same year she met Prince Charles at a polo game. So must have immediately ignited violently.
However, Camilla, who had confessed his great love to Charles, had no hopes of marrying the heir to the throne: she did not come from the high aristocracy, nor had she remained a virgin. At the same time, Anne’s relationship with Parker Bowles broke up because the officer was Catholic – and therefore a possible marriage to the Queen’s daughter (96), the head of the Anglican Church, was an absolute no-go. Parker Bowles returned to Camilla, Charles set sail with the Royal Navy, and in 1973 Andrew and Camilla Parker Bowles were married. From the royal family, the Queen Mum (1900-2002), Princess Margaret (1930-2002) and Anne were there, Charles did not come.
This marriage of convenience (two children) was not a particularly happy one, as Andrew Parker Bowles was not very particular about marital fidelity. Around 1979, love reignited between Camilla and Charles even before the prince and Diana became a couple, which happened in 1980.
The unhappy marriage of Prince Charles and Lady Di
For the royal family and the media, she was the ideal bride: descended from a leading noble house, virgin and of Anglican faith. In early 1981, Charles proposed to young Diana – whether it was voluntary or under pressure from the public and the Windsors is an open question. In any case, the liaison with Camilla was over again, even before Charles’ and Diana’s acclaimed wedding on July 29, 1981.
This marriage also came into crisis and ended in misfortune. By 1986 Charles had reconnected with (still unhappily married) Camilla, in 1992 he and Diana announced their separation, and in 1995 Diana said in a sensational interview, “There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.” The divorce followed a year later, Camilla had been divorced since 1995.
After the tragic accidental death of Diana (1997), Camilla withdrew from the public, which was all the more concerned with her: Camilla became the woman who had destroyed the happiness and life of the icon Diana, an ominous figure who was devoid of any form of decency and denied scruples.
Duchess Camilla: All against one
The campaigns against Camilla spared no outbursts of ugliness. Compared to the girlish Diana, the rather austere appearance was referred to as the “Rottweiler”, a beefy, aggressive dog breed that is considered to be particularly dogged. When Prince Charles finally married the love of his life in 2005, the couple was not only congratulated. Camilla is even said to have feared being booed on the street.
It is said that her unaffected and humorous manner (she loves hearty jokes) has earned her respect, even affection, within the royal family. Even the queen seems to get along really well with her. Elizabeth II is said to have specifically insisted that Camilla, who would have the title of Princess Consort after Charles’ coronation, become a “Queen Consort”. If her husband is king, she shall also be queen.
She has also come to be appreciated by the British public, her interest in art and culture, her commitment to victims of domestic and sexual violence. But when the chapter Camilla was dealt with in the hit series “The Crown” in 2020, the old resentments hailed again: Anonymous critics left out on social media.
“You have to get on with life”
But Camilla hasn’t let that get her down over the years. The woman, who loves to ride horses, fish, go hunting, even mucks out horse stables and works in the garden, poses in the British edition of the fashion bible “Vogue” on the occasion of her 75th birthday, among other things in an elegant one blue evening robe. Her path, she says in an interview, was not easy. “I’ve been under scrutiny for so long you just have to find a way to live with it. Nobody likes to be looked at and criticized all the time. But in the end I kind of get over it and move on. You have to deal with that carry on life.”