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Strange Facts About Camilla Parker Bowles, represents British royal family drama

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Strange Facts About Camilla Parker Bowles

Camilla Parker Bowles smiling
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BY LOUISA MARSHALL/
If there is one person who seemingly represents British royal family drama, it’s Camilla Parker Bowles. While some would assign Prince Harry or Meghan Markle to that moniker, Parker Bowles was the OG source of strife for the monarchy. For those who’ve been living under a rock for the last couple of decades (or haven’t caught up on the latest seasons of “The Crown”), Parker Bowles is Prince Charles’ now-wife, but until they got married in 2005, she was known as the mistress who — largely according to the public — split up the seemingly fairytale marriage of Charles and the late Princess Diana. As such, people near and far have had mixed feelings about Parker Bowles, and to say that gaining her current status in the royal family has been an uphill battle is an understatement.

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With such a contentious public reputation has come some odd and rather peculiar occurrences for Parker Bowles, and while the royal family tends to try to keep its nose clean of all oddities, some have bubbled to the surface. So, if you’ve ever wondered what questionable act stopped Parker Bowles from marrying Charles in the first place or what secret scheme was created with her in mind, wonder no more. Here are strange facts about Camilla Parker Bowles.

Unlike the rest of the royals, Camilla Parker Bowles actually watches The Crown

Camilla Parker Bowles smiling
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Camilla Parker Bowles stands out from the royal crowd. She’s a divorcee, she comes across as rather normal, and, of course, she’s been at the center of one of the world’s most contentious love triangles for decades. And oddly enough, one area where she differs greatly from the royal family is her taste in television. An inside source told Vanity Fair that, strangely, Parker Bowles is a viewer of “The Crown,” the hit Netflix drama that dramatizes the royal family’s tumultuous history with an ever-impressive rotating cast.

“The queen has no desire to watch herself in a fictitious TV program, while [Princess] Anne has no time for such nonsense,” an inside source told the publication in 2020, but in opposition to her in-laws, Parker Bowles has apparently tuned into the show. “I imagine she’ll be tuning in with a glass of red wine to watch it, she has seen the previous series,” a friend of Parker Bowles’ shared. “She has a wonderful sense of humor and this won’t fuss her in the slightest.” A “family friend” also confirmed that Parkes Bowles’ doesn’t have “any real issue” with the fictitious show, a strange opinion compared to the rest of the royal family.

Camilla was a tomboy before taking up noble life

Camilla with Kate Middleton
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It’s always strange to find out that some of the most proper among us used to lead far less extravagant lives, especially when it comes to the royal family, but that is the case for Camilla Parker Bowles. While she grew up within Britain’s noble class, as noted by Good Housekeeping, being in step with the latest fashion or the high-class frivolities never seemed to be on Parkes Bowles’ radar. Parker Bowles grew up in the high ranks of British society — her family’s estate was on a 5.7-acre plot, and she and her father would go fox hunting together — but being the picture of properness, strangely, wasn’t her goal.

As noted by the New York Post, Parker Bowles was a “tomboy” who was far more popular with the boys in her classes than she was with the girls. Why? “She could talk to boys about things that interested them,” Carolyn Benson, a fellow former student, shared. “She was never a girls’ girl. She was always a boy’s girl.”

By the time Parker Bowles left school, she had a “sexy confidence over men,” according to Benson, who labeled the duchess as “quite a flirt” back in the day.

Tatler had to get police involved because of Camilla Parker Bowles’ hate mail

Camilla Parker Bowles smiling
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We all know what it’s like to get a little bit of flack for something we’ve posted on the internet — maybe that one photo of you with your ex didn’t exactly age well, or maybe your hot take on whether cereal is soup got too many people riled up. That is understandable, but where things really crossed the line and got strange and slightly horrifying for Camilla Parker Bowles was when the police had to get involved over the amount of hate mail directed at her.

As noted by the Daily Mail, media outlet Tatler had to call the police over the hate mail that they were receiving regarding Camilla. Described as “so cruel and deranged,” the letters targeting the Duchess of Cornwall were next-level scary.

At the height of her infamy, the amount of photographers outside her home became a normal part of life — which is anything but normal. Her son, Tom Parker Bowles, explained, “The paparazzi used to follow us everywhere and lurk around like spooks. We used to keep binoculars in my mother’s bathroom, and one of us would look out every morning to see how many paparazzi were hiding in the bushes.”

She was fired from her job at an interior design company

Camilla Parker Bowles smiling
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Thinking of Camilla Parker Bowles in a day job does seem a bit odd, but she did have a pretty normal position that eventually ended in her termination. We’ve all been there, and it’s truly not your 20s if you don’t get fired from a retail gig or get kicked out of a job waiting tables.

In an interview with The Sunday Times, designer Imogen Taylor recalled a young Parker Bowles working for the interior design company Colefax and Fowler. It was the 1960s, and Parker Bowles was an up-and-coming debutante trying to make a name for herself in the bustling London scene. She took a job as an assistant at the company.

“She worked for us for a moment but got the sack,” Taylor said. So what happened? In her book, “On the Fringe: A Life in Decorating,” Taylor revealed that, oddly enough, Parker Bowles was the frowned-upon subject of then boss, Tom Parr. After a night of dancing, Parker Bowles came into work late and “fell victim to one of [Parr’s] tantrums,” according to Taylor.

Camilla’s father basically made Andrew Parker Bowles propose to her

Camilla Parker Bowles smiling
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We all know that Prince Charles ended up marrying Diana Spencer, and most of us know that Camilla Parker Bowles married Andrew Parker Bowles. But it turns out that Camilla was all but forced into her first marriage. As noted by Good Housekeeping, Andrew’s brother and Camilla’s father took it upon themselves to match-make by inserting themselves into the couple’s relationship.

Concerned about Andrew’s willingness to commit to his then-girlfriend of almost seven years, the father-brother duo submitted an engagement announcement to The Times on behalf of the couple, even though no such engagement had taken place. In her book “Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life,” author Sally Bedell Smith detailed the very strange move, revealing that Camilla’s first husband was essentially cornered into a proposal. “His hand publicly forced, Andrew proposed,” she concluded.

Take this as your sign to never propose if you don’t want to because it certainly didn’t work out well for the couple. The marriage was fraught with infidelity (via CheatSheet), and Camilla and Andrew eventually divorced in 1995.

Both Camilla and her great-grandmother had royal affairs

Camilla Parker Bowles looking away
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Most, if not all of us, know Camilla Parker Bowles due to her infamous affair with Prince Charles (and, of course, their marriage today). Call it a strange coincidence, but her great-grandmother and Charles’ great-great-grandfather were also adulteress lovers. As noted by the New York Post, Charles and Parker Bowles met when they were in their early 20s. Reportedly, Parker Bowles curtsied and then immediately said to the prince, “My great-grandmother and your great-great-grandfather were lovers. So how about it?”

 

She was referring to her great-grandmother, Alice Keppel, who was King Edward VII’s mistress and Parker Bowles’ “role model since childhood,” according to the paper. Keppel infamously once said, “My job is to curtsy first and then jump into bed.” While Parker Bowles hasn’t made a ton of comments that have been that off the cuff, it is a bit strange to think that royal infidelity has been a family thing.

Reportedly, Parker Bowles would tell people that, due to Keppel’s affiliation, her family was “practically royal.” Lynn Redgrave, who attended the same school as the duchess, said that “landing a rich husband was the top of the agenda” for the future royal.

Camilla and Prince Charles reportedly went to great lengths for their affair

Camilla and Prince Charles laughing
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Pulling off an affair is a skillset that not many of us strive to have, but both Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles reportedly got used the practice. As noted by the New York Post, Ken Stronach, who worked as Charles’ valet, “was instructed to treat Parker Bowles as mistress of the prince’s official residence, Highgrove.”

Parker Bowles was said to have a guest room at the residence, but once it hit 12 a.m., Charles would “switch off the elaborate alarm system guarding his room” so that Parker Bowles could spend the night with him. Stronach was then instructed to “mess up the bed” in Parker Bowles’ guest room in order to maintain appearances.

Similarly, Parker Bowles’ home was reportedly set up in order to maintain the affair. Royal protection officers would notify Parker Bowles when Charles would be heading her way, and as such, every light in the house would be turned off so that “he could pull inside the driveway without being spotted,” coining the nickname “The Prince of Darkness.” This all sounds a bit too James Bond, but there you have it.

Will Camilla ever be queen? Strangely, maybe not

Camilla Parker Bowles smiling
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A lot of us would naturally think that because Camilla Parker Bowles is married to Prince Charles — who will ultimately be king — Parker Bowles would become queen alongside him. Strangely, this isn’t the case. As noted by PopSugar, Charles will most likely adopt the name King George VII when he is crowned and Parker Bowles will be named princess consort rather than queen.

When the duo got married, Clarence House announced that Parker Bowles “should use the title HRH The Princess Consort when the Prince of Wales accedes to the throne,” just as Prince Philip was the prince consort during his life and marriage to the current monarch, Queen Elizabeth.

In a twist, however, PopSugar noted that Charles could name Parker Bowles queen consort if he wanted to, as he’ll have the power to do so (he will be king, after all). So why would he avoid giving his wife this role? Well, the majority of Britons don’t like Parker Bowles. In a poll conducted by YouGov, it was found that only 33% of people approve of Parker Bowles — not exactly the support you want when you’re going to rule over the Commonwealth.

Prince Charles reportedly launched ‘Operation Parker Bowles’ in 1997

Camilla and Prince Charles
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It seemed as though the world would’ve ended before the heir to the British throne would get divorced, but that’s what happened in 1996. Prince Charles and Diana Spencer had separated a few years prior, but after the princess’ sit-down interview with the BBC in 1995 (via Marie Claire), the two were left with no choice other than to call it quits. So what did Charles do once his divorce was settled? Commence “Operation Parker Bowles,” of course. Yes, that was literally what the plan was called that was designed to set Camilla Parker Bowles’ public introduction in motion, according to the New York Post. This would have once would’ve been unthinkable for the royal family, and yet somehow it happened.

As noted by the New York Post, Camilla and Andrew Parker Bowles had separated in 1995 after 22 years of marriage. After Charles and Diana split, he asked his private secretary to come up with the top secret plan in May 1997. “Camilla started plotting to become the next queen,” Lady Elsa Bowker told the New York Post of the plan. “Diana was out of the way and Camilla wanted more.”

Camilla Parker Bowles reportedly couldn’t marry Charles at first because of her dating history

Charles and Camilla at an event
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We all know that the royal family has high expectations for those who marry its members, but a lot of us have asked ourselves at some point why Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles didn’t get married to begin with. Why put Diana Spencer and Andrew Parker Bowles through divorces, when the now-married duo could’ve tied the knot decades ago? As noted by Good Housekeeping, a really strange and quite frankly sexist reason was used as the royal family’s justification for keeping the couple apart — Camilla was apparently too experienced when it came to men and dating. Additionally, her background was not “aristocratic” enough to fit the bill.

Lord Mountbatten even wrote about the kind of woman Charles should marry in a letter to the prince during his dating years. “In a case like yours, the man should sow his wild oats and have as many affairs as he can before settling down,” Lord Mountbatten wrote. “But I think for a wife he should choose a suitable attractive and sweet-character girl before she has met anyone else she might fall for.”

Camilla made Prince Charles her son’s godfather

Camilla Parker Bowles smiling
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When Camilla Parker Bowles was married to Andrew Parker Bowles, they had two children — Tom Parker Bowles and Laura Lopes. Now, we all know that Camilla and Prince Charles would go on to have an affair, but before they rekindled their romance, Camilla asked Charles to be Tom’s godfather (via CheatSheet). Yes, the man she’d go on to marry many years later became her son’s godfather. Even if Charles and Camilla were not romantic at the time, it was still an odd choice given their history.

In an interview with The Times, Tom shared what it’s been like having the heir to the throne in his life — more so as a godfather than as a stepfather. Tom shared that while the past was tough, he still has a lot of affection for Charles. He called him “sweet and gentle,” and further said that Charles is “ahead of his time,” most likely alluding to the royal’s dedication to environmental causes.

And if it couldn’t get any odder, Andrew is still very much in and around the royal family, as he’s reunited with his ex Princess Anne (yep, he dated her too) on a number of occasions (via Tatler).

Did the queen attend Camilla’s first wedding to make sure the ‘Camilla problem was gone’?

Queen Elizabeth and Camilla smiling at wedding
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Weddings are pretty much always a good time. The love, the food, the dancing — what’s not to enjoy? Well, if you’re the person who’s captured the heart of the heir to the British throne, your wedding might be seen more as an exchange than as a celebratory affair. As noted by CheatSheet, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, Princess Anne, and Princess Margaret all attended Camilla Parker Bowles’ wedding to Andrew Parker Bowles to reportedly see with their own eyes that the “Camilla problem was gone.” They allegedly wanted to see her successfully married to someone that wasn’t Prince Charles. If that doesn’t scream strange, we don’t know what does.

In the documentary, “Camilla: Making of a Mistress,” it was revealed that “Andrew and Camilla’s wedding … was dubbed the society event of the year,” so the fact that there was royalty in the audience wasn’t that odd. Their personal reasoning, however, was truly something else. “People have said, slightly tongue-in-cheek, that the senior members of the royal family were there at the wedding just to make sure it really happened,” royal author Tom Quinn told Channel 5, as reported by Express. “There was this enormous relief in royal circles,” he added, noting, “This Camilla problem had now gone away for good.”

Camilla Parker Bowles dabbles in ballet

Camilla Parker Bowles talking
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We’re all for self-improvement, no matter what it looks like. And while it may seem a little strange to some, Camilla Parker Bowles has picked up ballet. Along with some of her self-described “ancient friends” (she’s said to have a great sense of humor), Parker Bowles has been trading heels for dance shoes and has been taking dance classes from home.

As noted by Royal Central, Parker Bowles joined professional ballerina Dame Darcey Bussell and journalist Angela Rippon for remarks during International Dance Day. She shared that her weekly dance classes have her “groaning, huffing and grunting,” which isn’t exactly what we think of when we think tutus and tights, but we love that she’s having a great time.

Parker Bowles shared that the classes are designed for people who are 55 and older, and while it’s not a hobby she’s willing to show off, she’s been having a great time. “I’m very, very much a beginner and probably will always remain a beginner, but I do feel after a year, or 18 months, of doing it that maybe I’ve improved a tiny bit,” Parker Bowles said. “But I’m certainly not going to be taking to the stage.”

Camilla admittedly doesn’t recognize herself sometimes

Camilla Parker Bowles smiling
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To say that Camilla Parker Bowles’ life has been exciting, strange, and fascinating is a grave understatement — she has been in the public eye for decades, and we can’t even begin to imagine what kind of toll that takes on an individual. As it turns out, Parker Bowles has been rather up front regarding her transformation in the spotlight, and in a sit-down with the Daily Mail, she shared her thoughts on the matter.

“You also have to laugh at yourself because if you can’t, you may as well give up,” she said during the extensive interview. “I sometimes think to myself, ‘Who is this woman? It can’t possibly be me.'”

So what does the duchess do to try to keep herself as authentic and grounded as possible? She’s surrounded herself with friends who keep her in line. “If I ever even vaguely look like getting uppity, which touch wood I never have, they would just say, ‘Look, come on, pull yourself together! Don’t be so bloody grand!'” Parker Bowles shared. Here’s your daily reminder to always keep those friends close — you never know when you’ll need them.

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