Queen Camilla's Old Flame Kevin Burke Dead At 77

What might have been? That's a question royals fans are asking with the news of the death of Kevin Burke, thought to be the first love of Queen Camilla. The Daily Mail reports Burke died in early August at age 77. While his cause of death is undisclosed, his family has asked mourners to make donations to the British Heart Association. 

Burke and Camilla met as teens, back when she was Milla Shand, daughter of a military major-turned-wine merchant executive. After officially becoming a debutante at 17, Camilla soon met Burke, the 19-year-old son of an aircraft manufacturing executive. The two were virtually inseparable for months, attending endless cocktail parties and dances and generally enjoying their carefree youth. Interviewed for a 2012 biography of Camilla, Burke recalled, "It was the best fun, and I had the best and most fun partner you could possibly wish for" (per the Daily Mail). He described the sociable young lady as "attractive and sexy ... [and] never tongue-tied or shy."

If fate had turned out differently, perhaps Milla might one day have become Mrs. Camilla Burke. She would have continued to enjoy a life of upper-class pleasures, and no doubt would have been a delightful hostess to Burke's friends and associates. The marriage of Charles and Diana might have endured longer, and Camilla would have watched King Charles III's coronation on TV instead of in person. But the effervescent Camilla's social ways eventually ended that first whirlwind romance.

Camilla 'ditched' her first love

For one glorious year, Kevin Burke and Camilla Shand were the toast of British society. But the fling ended just as suddenly as it had begun, much to Burke's regret. He told a biographer (via the Daily Mail), "I suppose we were in love and then she ditched me. Why? Well, the short answer is that she was having a ball in London." 

That "ball" included her first encounter with her future second husband. King Charles III and Queen Camilla were never the same after meeting each other in 1971, and their passion for each other never dimmed, even though they each went on to marry other people. Their love survived the scandal of an affair, the tragic death of Princess Diana, the disapproval of Queen Elizabeth II (who called her "that wicked woman"), and the resentment of pro-Diana fans. Despite all the collateral damage, Charles and Camilla eventually had their fairy-tale ending with their 2005 marriage. Camilla even won over her mother-in-law with her devotion to Charles and to public service; not long before her death, the queen expressed her wish that Camilla be made queen consort when the time came. 

As for Burke, he went on to become an accountant — a bit duller of a career than that of a monarch — and marry twice. The Daily Mail reports he has a son from his second marriage, who survives him. Did he ever regret not trying to reconnect with Camilla? The answer will remain a mystery.