Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Royal Profile: HRH Camilla, The Duchess of Cornwall

Camilla Rosemary, The Duchess of Cornwall was born 17 July 1947, the eldest child and first daughter of Major Bruce Shand and his wife, The Hon. Rosalind Cubitt.

At the age of 5, she began her education at Dumbrells School. At the age of 10, she attended fashionable Queen's Gate School, where she left with one O-level. At the age of 16, she attended the Mon Fertile finishing school in Switzerland and studied at theInstitut Britannique in Paris.  Following her education, she made her London debut as a debutante in 1965.

When she began in the workforce, she worked as a part-time secretary, before taking a job at the decorating firm of Sybil Colefax and John Fower. During this time, she became an avid horsewoman, and participated in fox hunting until it was banned. 

On 4 July 1973, 26-year old Camilla married 34-year old Andrew Parker Bowles at the Guards Chapel, Wellington Barracks, London. Their bridesmaids included Parker Bowles' goddaughter Lady Emma Herbert. The wedding was attended by almost 800 guests including several members of the British Royal Family. 
They resided in Wiltshire, where they raised their two children, Thomas and Laura. After her affair with The Prince of Wales became public knowledge, they divorced, but remained fairly cordial with one another. Camilla even attended the memorial service for Andrew's second wife, Rosemary Pitman who died of cancer in 2010.
Her relationship with the Prince of Wales began in the 1970s, after she was introduced to him through one of his former girlfriends. Shortly after, she became one of the numerous girlfriends of Charles, and he was said to have wanted to marry her, Camilla was seen by royal courtiers as an unsuitable match for the future king. After this, their relationship dissolved, but they remained friends. Their relationship rekindled in the 1980s, while they were both married to others with children. After their affair became public in 1995, she became his unofficial companion at several events over the next few years.   On 10 February 2005, it was announced by Clarence House that Camilla and the Prince of Wales were engaged. The marriage was to have been on 8 April of that year, and was to take place in a civil ceremony at Windsor Castle, with a subsequent religious blessing at St George's Chapel.   

The Duchess of Cornwall is the Patron of The Royal School, Hampstead, an independent girls' school, Patron of Animal Care Trust (Under the umbrella of the Royal Veterinary College), Patron of The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists, Patron of Unicorn Theatre for Children, Patron of Cornwall Community Foundation, Patron of Wiltshire Bobby van Trust, Patron of Youth Action Wiltshire, Patron of New Queen's Hall Orchestra, Patron of St John's Smith Square, Patron of London Chamber Orchestra, Patron of Georgian Theatre Royal, Richmond (A Joint Patron with the Prince of Wales), President of Scotland's Gardens Scheme, President of National Osteoporosis Society (First Charity to be given the role), Patron of The Cornish Air Ambulance Service, Patron of Girl's Friendly Society, Patron of The National Literacy Trust, Patron of Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, Patron of Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases, Patron of Plumpton College Charitable Foundation, as well as President or Patron of a number of other charities, as detailed below.

She 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. In March 2012, the Duchess became the Patron of The Big Jubilee Lunch (BJL), in which communities across the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth held lunches including street parties, garden gatherings and picnics on 3 June 2012, as part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

Because the title 'Princess of Wales' became strongly associated with the previous holder of that title, the late Diana, Princess of Wales, Camilla has adopted the feminine form of her husband's highest-ranking subsidiary title, Duke of Cornwall.  Unless any specific Act of Parliament is passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom (and other Commonwealth States) to the contrary, should Prince Charles become King, she can assume by courtesy the style of "Queen Camilla".  However, continued controversy about her ascendence raised the continuing likelihood that she might retain a morganatic style, albeit by courtesy—she would always be entitled to be acknowledged with the rank and style of her husband.  Clarence House stated that when Charles becomes King, Camilla will adopt the unprecedented style of Princess Consort, similar to the style of Prince Albert. This is not the same usage as her father-in-law, The Duke of Edinburgh, who does not hold the title of Prince Consort (although as a prince and a consort, he is the Queen's Prince consort).

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