In a candid interview with The Mail on Sunday‘s You magazine, the royal recalled the media storm surrounding her relationship with the Prince of Wales, an affair that occurred while she was still married to her first husband Andrew Parker-Bowles and Charles was still married to the late Princess Diana.
“I couldn’t really go anywhere. But the children came and went as normal — they just got on with it, and so did great friends,” the 69-year-old said. She later added: “It was horrid. It was a deeply unpleasant time and I wouldn’t want to put my worst enemy through it. I couldn’t have survived it without my family.”
Camilla’s relationship with Charles, 68, has long been a topic of discussion, with many Princess Diana supporters blaming Camilla for the pair’s strained relationship. (Diana also admitted to having affairs of her own while married to Charles but had said she was most upset by her husband’s closeness with his former flame Camilla.)
Charles and Camilla first dated after being introduced in 1971, launching a decades-long love affair. The love birds split in 1973 and Camilla soon married Parker-Bowles. However, Charles and Camilla eventually rekindled their romance. They began an on-again, off-again relationship with Parker-Bowles turning a blind eye. The two remained married until 1995 and had two children together, food critic Tom Parker-Bowles and art curator Laura Lopes.
Charles separated from Diana in 1992 and the pair officially divorced in 1996.
Despite the scandal surrounding their affair — especially after the death of Diana in 1997 — Charles and Camilla eventually got married in 2005. Now, the Duchess of Cornwall says she hardly recognises herself in such a royal role.
“You also have to laugh at yourself because if you can’t, you may as well give up. I sometimes think to myself, ‘Who is this woman? It can’t possibly be me.’ And that’s really how you survive,” she said.
Also, having so many friends who, 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!’ ”
She was not ill-prepared for royal life, though. Camilla said she has her upbringing in the British gentry to thank for her ability to adapt.
“Thank goodness I was brought up with the grounding of my parents, and taught manners. It sounds, especially in this day and age, sort of snobbish, but we left school at 16, nobody went on to university unless you were a real brainbox,” she said.
“Instead, we went to Paris and Florence and learned about life and culture and how to behave with people, how to talk to people. This was very ingrained in my upbringing and if I hadn’t had that, I would have found royal life much more difficult.”