Mistress to Majesty! 10 surprising fun facts about Queen Camilla

We uncover 10 surprising secrets about Queen Camilla

1 She inherited the Queen’s royal jewels

When she passed, Queen Elizabeth II left the then-Duchess of Cornwall the key to a vault of the royal family’s riches worth an estimated – and eye-watering! – $9 billion. The treasure trove, which is said to be the largest collection of jewellery in the world, includes the 105-carat Koh-i-Noor diamond, a Belgian sapphire necklace Elizabeth received from her father and a tiara that the late Queen bought herself. “[Camilla] will need a large collection to support her constitutional role,” explains royal expert Ingrid Seward.

2 Her first husband was forced to propose!

Before Camilla’s longtime beau Andrew Parker Bowles had a chance to pop the question, his impatient father Derek put a wedding announcement in the paper in 1973 while Camilla’s new friend Charles was overseas on naval duties. “His hand publicly forced, Andrew proposed to his girlfriend of nearly seven years,” claims royal biographer Sally Bedell Smith of the couple, who had started dating in the late 1960s and were on-and-off for years before they wed.

3 Partial to a cigarette

Camilla, 75, smoked for 30 years before quitting in 2001 with the help of health guru Dr Mosaraf Ali. When she was in the midst of what Charles calls a “filthy habit”, author Brian Hoey claims Camilla ordered staff to place silver cigarette boxes everywhere. “And the moment she leaves the room – even if just for a few minutes – a footman makes sure the ashtrays are emptied,” he claimed.

4 She almost missed her wedding day

Camilla was so sick with a sinus infection when she woke up on April 9, 2005 – the date she was finally set to wed Charles – that she couldn’t get out of bed. But after her sister Annabel Elliot threatened to put on the bride’s outfit herself, she managed to pull herself together.

5 Her brother died tragically

Camilla and Charles were “utterly devastated” when her only brother, Mark Shand, died in a shock accident in 2014. The conservationist and travel writer, who was just 62, passed away in a New York hospital after suffering a serious head injury sustained during a fall.

6 She’s related to Madonna & Celine Dion

It turns out Camilla and the two superstar singers are all descended from French carpenter Zacharie Cloutier. Social history website Ancestry, which revealed the discovery, says the unlikely link “highlights the truly unpredictable and entertaining nature of family history research”.

7 Dancing Queen!

Camilla discovered a new passion when she started ballet classes for over-55s during the pandemic. “It’s something that will make you feel better,” says the royal, who first thought her new hobby would just be something “funny”. “It gives you a certain amount of confidence in yourself.”

8 Secret nicknames

Charles and Camilla gave each other special aliases – Fred and Gladys. The King’s former wife Diana revealed the pair’s secret in her 1992 interview, admitting she was “devastated” when she found a bracelet engraved with the letters G and F before her wedding.

9 Surprising family connection

Camilla’s great-great grandmother, British socialite Alice Keppel, was the longtime mistress of Edward VII. Camilla reportedly joked about their ancestors’ romance, declaring, “I feel we have something in common”, when she and Charles were first introduced by a mutual friend.

10 She’s afraid of flying!

When Camilla travelled home early from her tour of Australia in 2018, her spokesperson confirmed her reluctance to fly. “The duchess does not like flying, but I think she sometimes has to embrace that fear and get on with it,” they explained of the royal, who reportedly uses EFT (emotional freedom techniques) to manage her anxiety.

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New Zealand Woman's Weekly - 19 November 2012
Real Life

Inside Camilla’s private life

In this week’s issue, meet the down-to-earth-duchess who loves to garden, but hates baking. We reveal the private world of Camilla that shows an unseen side of the duchess. Also in this issue, ahead of Charles and Camilla’s visit, another royal has made a secret trip to our shores – Zara Phillips is in New Zealand […]