Sad Details About Camilla Parker Bowles

Camilla Parker Bowles has been known as many things in her life, a wife, a mother, the other woman, the Duchess of Cornwall, and, as of September 2022, the Queen Consort of the United Kingdom. She's certainly come a long way from her commoner origins.

Despite being born a commoner, Camilla was actually always well off. Her father was a wealthy merchant and her mother was the daughter of a baron, per Pop Sugar. She grew up in a large estate with seven bedrooms, an orchard, and a pool, a home she called, "perfect in every way," according to the Daily Mail. She seemingly had a happy childhood and — armed with a 500,000 pound inheritance — she never had to fret too much about working.

But the truth is that, despite the new queen consort's privileged upbringing and royal advantages, her life has not been all sunshine and roses. Let's take a closer look at some of the sadder circumstances of Camilla Parker Bowles' life.

Camilla Parker Bowles was deprived of marrying the man she loved when she was young

If you know anything about the new king and his queen consort, it's probably the fact that they were once in a secret romance and caused quite a bit of drama in the 1990s. But long before Camilla Parker Bowles was known as then-Prince Charles' mistress who played a large role in his divorce from Princess Diana, the two had been in a fair game relationship. They first met in 1971 and allegedly fell in love after only dating for several months, per Time. But there was one thing standing in their way: Camilla was not considered a suitable partner for the future king.

Despite the fact that she came from a wealthy background, Camilla's family wasn't landed nobility, and the royal family saw this as a problem, according to Biography. But even more than that, they disliked that she had an extensive relationship history. Charles' great uncle, Lord Mountbatten, told him, "I think it is disturbing for women to have experiences if they have to remain on a pedestal after marriage," per The New Yorker. The implication was that Charles must find a virgin to marry, and apparently it was common enough knowledge that Camilla was not. No doubt it was a disappointing double-standard, considering Charles' reputation as a playboy. With no hope of marrying him however, at least at that point, she moved on and married another man: Andrew Parker Bowles.

The media and public were not kind to her

Camilla Parker Bowles was always going to have a tough time gaining widespread popularity. Princess Diana was well-liked and the public viewed her as wronged by then-Prince Charles and Camilla's affair. Unfortunately, Camilla took the brunt of the criticism concerning the affair and a sea of harsh comments were made about the now-queen consort. Tina Brown, who wrote "The Palace Papers," told The Washington Post, "It's actually almost inconceivable how much abuse Camilla took. I mean, she was called hag, old bag, witch." Brown adds that after Diana's untimely death, Camilla became "public enemy number one." According to NBC News, she was also once considered to be the "most hated woman in Britain."

A lot has changed since the 1990s and the royal family, as well as the British public, has seemingly come to accept Camilla after she and Charles were finally able to marry in 2005. But even if she has a much higher approval rating than she once did, it doesn't stop the bullies from re-emerging every now and then. After Queen Elizabeth II's death in September 2022, hate comments spurred to life once again, per Insider.

Her strained relationship with Prince William and Prince Harry

Considering the circumstances, it was never going to be easy for Camilla Parker Bowles to have an immediate affectionate relationship with her stepsons. She has more than faced a struggle to get Prince William and Prince Harry to accept her. She met William for the first time when he was 16 years old in 1998. It was reportedly a tense meeting and Camilla came out of it saying, "I really need a gin and tonic," per The Irish Times.

Nowadays, William lives in harmony with his stepmother. A royal insider told the Daily Mail, "He is not particularly close to his stepmother but they get on perfectly well and are quite the blended family now." Journalist and author Tina Brown told The Telegraph that "Harry, on the other hand, can't stand Camilla, he doesn't want Camilla to be queen, he's very angry that it's happening. He has not made his peace with it and he probably never will."

Camilla Parker Bowles struggled with watching her mother suffer

Camilla Parker Bowles' mother, Rosalind Shand, died in 1994 after struggling with health issues for years. Shand had osteoporosis, a condition that makes bones weak, which can be extremely painful and can cause the sufferer to experience fractures from typical daily activities, per the Mayo Clinic. Such was the case with Camilla's mother. In an interview with Gloria Hunniford for BBC Morning Live for World Osteoporosis Day, Camilla revealed the turmoil she experienced watching her mother suffer with the disease. "When she moved or you touched her she literally screamed. I remember when a friend of hers came in one day just to give her a hug, her rib broke. It was as bad as that," she explained to Hunniford.

Unfortunately, there was little the doctors could do to help her aging mother. "We just watched her shrinking before our eyes," Camilla said. She took the opportunity to tell her mother's story to raise awareness about the disease and to encourage others, even young people, to tend to their bone health.

The queen consort was deeply affected by her father's death

Camilla Parker Bowles' father, Major Bruce Shand, had been a highly honored military man. Serving in World War II, he had been captured by Nazis during battle, per CBS News. After surviving the war, he became a prosperous wine merchant in London. The war hero died in 2006. An official palace statement explained, "He had been unwell for some time and his family was with him when he died at his home in Dorset (south-west England)," per The Sydney Morning Herald. A survivor of cancer, he reportedly died of natural causes.

Camilla had been close with her father. He even publicly supported his daughter during the media circus of her affair with then-Prince Charles, according to CBS News. Needless to say, she was affected by his death. After canceling her upcoming royal engagements, a palace spokesperson told the media outlet that she was "absolutely devastated" by Shand's death and was mourning in private.

Her brother died from a tragic accident

Camilla Parker Bowles grew up with two younger siblings, a brother and a sister. Her brother, Mark Shand, was a travel writer and a conservationist. Shand was in New York City for an auction to raise money for his charity, Elephant Family, when he died tragically in 2014, per Vanity Fair. Reportedly, he had been out celebrating after the auction when he slipped and fell outside of Rose Bar in Manhattan. A source told Page Six that he had been drinking and as he stepped out of the bar, he fell and hit his head on the sidewalk. A different source told the publication that he had been taking blood pressure medication that was making him dizzy.

Camilla was close to her brother and the unexpected and sudden death was a shock. An insider told the Daily Mail, "To say that she is devastated is an understatement. They are a very close family. ... It is just the most tragic of accidents. No one can quite believe it has happened. He was always such a vital man, so full of life."

An exciting announcement was overshadowed by a COVID-19 diagnosis

In February 2022, just before her platinum jubilee celebration, Queen Elizabeth II made a big announcement concerning Camilla Parker Bowles. "And when, in the fullness of time, my son Charles becomes King, I know you will give him and his wife Camilla the same support that you have given me; and it is my sincere wish that, when that time comes, Camilla will be known as Queen Consort as she continues her own loyal service," the statement read, per CBS News. It took a long time for Camilla to be fully accepted into the royal family, so the announcement was surely a huge honor.

Unfortunately, for Camilla, the good news was followed with some bad news. She had caught COVID-19 and was suffering from the symptoms. She had received three vaccinations and came out of it okay, though she revealed it wasn't an easy or fast recovery. "It's taken three weeks and still can't get shot of it. Probably my voice might suddenly go and I might start coughing and spluttering," she explained during an International Women's Day Event, per Hello!.

Camilla Parker Bowles mourned for her aunt in 2022

Camilla Parker Bowles has had to deal with many family deaths over the years, but 2022 unfortunately brought more than one funeral for the queen consort. In March, Camilla lost her half-aunt, Baroness Elspeth Howe of Idlicote CBE. The former member of Parliament, who was Camilla's father, Major Bruce Shand's, half sister, died of cancer, per Express. According to Hello!, the family announced the death in a statement that read, in part, "She will be missed intensely by her whole family and many friends. We are immensely proud of her many achievements, especially her championing of the causes close to her heart which she supported so effectively during her remarkable lifetime." One of those causes was internet safety regulations, per CARE. She had also been called a "Tory feminist," according to the Evening Standard.

Camilla had looked up to her aunt. According to a correspondent for GB News, Cameron Walker, (via Express), Camilla "thought Lady Howe a remarkable woman who did so much for her country" and commented that it was a "sad time for all the family."

The death of Queen Elizabeth II was another difficult loss for her

On September 8, 2022, Queen Elizabeth II, Britain's longest-reigning monarch, passed away. Her eldest son automatically ascended the throne and became King Charles III, and Camilla went from being only the Duchess of Cornwall to the queen consort. Charles and Camilla felt the loss of their mother and mother-in-law, respectively, deeply. In a palace statement posted to the Royal Family Twitter account, Charles wrote, in part, "The death of my beloved mother, Her Majesty The Queen, is a moment of the greatest sadness for me and all members of my family. We mourn profoundly the passing of a cherished Sovereign and a much-loved Mother. I know her loss will be deeply felt throughout the country, the Realms and the Commonwealth, and by countless people around the world."

While dealing with the grief of losing a beloved mother-in-law, Camilla had to carry on and be by her mourning husband's side for public obligations. While shaking hands and greeting public mourners, Camilla responded to one onlooker's praise with, "We are doing our best," (via Instagram). During her first public appearance after Her Majesty's death, she added a symbolic knotted brooch to her mourning outfit, per Page Six. According to the outlet, the brooch was worn to honor her mother-in-law and represented "unity among her fellow Brits."