Camilla Parker Bowles has been a household name in Great Britain and beyond long before she married Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne. In fact, her name would come up frequently as tabloid fodder during Charles’ marriage to the late Princess Diana Spencer, but most people don’t know she had quite a full life before she wed Charles that produced several children and grandchildren.
Camilla was born Camilla Shand in 1947 to wealthy parents, Bruce and Rosalind Shand. She met Prince Charles back in 1972, as she frequently consorted with British royalty being the daughter of the Vice Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex. Charles and Camilla immediately hit it off and began a romantic relationship, but when it came time for marriage, Camilla opted to settle down with Andrew Parker Bowles in 1973. She even advised Charles to choose a romantic interest that the British royal family would approve of as a wife, Spencer, who was in her late teens when the older Charles first started dating her (via Biography).
During her long marriage to Parker Bowles — who served as an officer in the British Army — Camilla gave birth to two children, Thomas and Laura.
Camilla Parker Bowles raised a family with Prince Charles on her mind
Despite Prince Charles and Diana Spencer marrying in 1981, the very-married Camilla Parker Bowles and the then-very-married Charles continued their affair through his union to the newly minted Princess of Wales. Diana even told biographer Andrew Morton that she knew about the affair from the start.
“We always had discussions about Camilla. I once heard him on the telephone in his bath on his hand-held set saying: ‘Whatever happens, I will always love you.’ I told him afterwards that I had listened at the door and we had a filthy row,” Diana said, according to Insider.
Charles and Diana officially separated in 1992, and finally divorced in 1996. The princess was later killed in a car crash in 1997, according to History. By then, Charles had already publicly admitted to his affair in 1994, and Camilla divorced Andrew Parker Bowles in 1995. By then, her children were already grown.
Ten years after her first divorce and more than 30 years after meeting Charles, Camilla finally wed the heir to the throne in a 2005 civil ceremony, making Camilla the Duchess of Cornwall. Between the pair, they have a whopping nine grandchildren, according to PureWow.
Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles have a large, blended family
Prince Charles’ marriage to Diana Spencer produced two sons, Prince William and Prince Harry. Camilla Parker Bowles’ marriage to Andrew Parker Bowles produced a son and a daughter, Thomas and Laura, according to Biography.
Camilla considers Charles’ grandchildren to be her own. Charles’ oldest son, William, has three children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis from his marriage to Kate Middleton. Harry has a son, Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, via his marriage to Meghan Markle, as noted by PureWow. As of publication, Harry and Meghan have another child on the way, which will give Charles and Camilla 10 grandchildren all together when Meghan gives birth (given the relationship between Charles and Harry, however, time will tell when the grandfather will meet his family’s newest addition).
Camilla’s five grandchildren via her own children include Eliza Lopes, daughter of Laura, and then fraternal twins, Gus and Louis Lopes, Laura’s two young sons. Through Thomas, Camilla has another granddaughter and another grandson, Lola Parker Bowles and Freddy Parker Bowles (via PureWow).
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