Monday, 17 July 2017

Camilla at 70: seven decades, seven photos

The Duchess of Cornwall is 70 today. And once we've got over the excitement of seeing whether the Duke of York will tweet a congratulatory message on her actual birthday rather than sending them out days in advance. we've got seven decades of Camilla to celebrate. The baby girl born in London on July 17th 1947 has had a rollercoaster royal ride but as she marks three score years and ten, has found a personal equilibrium and a popular profile that is bringing contentment all round. As Camilla of Cornwall turns seventy, here's a look back at her life so far with seven pictures for seven decades.

Camilla Rosemary Shand was born on the morning of July 17th 1947 at King's College, London. The first child of Bruce Shand and his wife, Rosalind, Camilla grew up in East Sussex and Kensington and was soon joined by a sister, Annabel, and a brother, Mark. She was educated in London, Switzerland and France. In this early image, she is seen as a bridesmaid alongside Annabel.

Her relationship with the Prince of Wales began in the early 1970s and the two were often seen together (the image above was taken at a polo match). But they parted around 1973 when Charles went on duty with the Royal Navy.

Camilla announced her engagement to Andrew Parker Bowles in 1973 and the couple married at the Guards Chapel, Wellington Barracks, London on July 4th that year. Among the guests were the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret. The couple had two children, Tom and Laura, and lived in Wiltshire.

In 1992, Camilla Parker Bowles became known around the world as the marriage of the Prince and Princess of Wales unravelled very publicly. Her relationship with Charles became public knowledge again as details of their affair were published in papers around the world. Camilla became an unpopular figure and in 1995 she announced her divorce from Andrew Parker Bowles.  That same year, she appeared alongside Charles leaving a party at the Ritz (seen in the photo above).  Charles and Diana divorced in 1996. By the time Diana, Princess of Wales was killed in a car crash in 1997, Camilla was encountering anger and hostility from many corners.  

After several low key years, Camilla slowly re-emerged into the limelight. She attended a birthday party for the former King of Greece, Constantine II, in 2000 alongside the Queen and in 2002 she was invited to events for the Golden Jubilee. The engagement of the Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker Bowles was announced on February 10th 2005 and the couple married, in a civil ceremony in Windsor followed by a blessing, on April 9th 2005.

It was announced at the time of her engagement that Camilla would be known as the Duchess of Cornwall rather than Princess of Wales and that when Charles takes the throne, her title will be Princess Consort. That defused some of the rows about her new royal role and Camilla set about building up a roster of engagements and a new, royal, public profile. She continues to support many projects close to her heart including the National Osteoporosis Society and literacy programmes. She began an extensive programme of overseas tours with her husband, too, and slowly her popularity built.

Now, as she turns 70, Camilla is enjoying a wave of public support. She has a full roster of public engagements and in the past few weeks  alone has carried out a high profile tour of Canada alongside Charles as well as helping host the State Visit by the King and Queen of Spain. She's described as fun, down to earth and a positive influence on the Prince of Wales - as seen in the image above from Canada this year where they shared each other's giggles. The couple, now married for twelve years, have cemented an image of their own. As Camilla turns 70, she has plenty to celebrate.

Photo credit: Clarence House Instagram.

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