The first full-length biography of one of Britain’s more reviled public figures.
In this richly detailed look at Camilla Parker Bowles (b. 1947), prolific royal family chronicler Junor (Prince Harry: Brother, Soldier, Son, 2014, etc.) adds to her growing library of portraits of members of the household of the Prince of Wales. For many readers on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, the Duchess of Cornwall is a woman with a past in need of redemption. Cast widely in the press as the dissembling “other woman” responsible for the dissolution of Charles’ marriage to the hugely popular Diana Spencer, Camilla is portrayed here as the opposite: a playful, self-effacing pillar of strength and kindness who is “unwavering in her support” of her husband and family. The author tips her hat to her subject early on, writing, “when history comes to judge her, Camilla will not be seen as the woman who nearly brought down the House of Windsor” but rather “recognised as the woman who shored it up.” Admitting that Camilla “will never be universally loved because of the early scandal,” Junor makes the compelling case that she “came into Charles’s broken marriage and gave him something to live for when he was in despair.” Mercifully, though, much of the author’s portrait attends to Camilla in her own right. Junor shows how Camilla’s upper-class upbringing and identification with her war-hero father formed her character and aspirations, influenced her pursuit of and first marriage to the philandering Andrew Parker Bowles, and affected her actions now as a “thoroughly grounded,” philanthropic, devoted mother and grandmother who just happened to fall in love with the heir apparent to the British throne.
A witty, colorful portrait of Camilla as human that should offer food for thought for Anglophiles and those seeking an antidote to her toxic reputation.