Strange Facts About Camilla Parker Bowles

If there is one person who seemingly represents British royal family drama, it's Camilla, Queen Consort. While some would assign Prince Harry or Meghan Markle to that moniker, Camilla 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"), Camilla is King Charles III's wife. But until they got married in 2005, she was known as the mistress who — 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 Camilla, and to say that gaining her current status in the royal family has been an uphill battle is an understatement.

With such a contentious public reputation has come some odd and rather peculiar occurrences for Camilla, 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 Camilla 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 Queen Camilla.

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

Camilla, Queen Consort, 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, Camilla 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, Camilla 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 Camilla's shared. "She has a wonderful sense of humor and this won't fuss her in the slightest." A "family friend" also confirmed that Camilla doesn't have "any real issue" with the fictitious show, a strange opinion compared to the rest of the royal family.

She was a tomboy before taking up noble life

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. 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 Camilla's radar. The queen consort 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, Camilla 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 Camilla left school, she had a "sexy confidence over men," according to Benson, who labeled the then-duchess as "quite a flirt" back in the day.

Tatler had to get police involved because of Camilla's hate mail

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 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 then-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

Thinking of Queen Camilla 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 Camilla 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, Camilla was the frowned-upon subject of then boss, Tom Parr. After a night of dancing, Camilla 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

We all know that King Charles III ended up marrying Diana Spencer, and most of us know that Camilla 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

Call it a strange coincidence, but Camilla's great-grandmother and Charles' great-great-grandfather were also lovers. As noted by the New York Post, Charles and Camilla met when they were in their early 20s. Reportedly, Camilla 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 Camilla's "role model since childhood," according to the paper. Keppel infamously once said, "My job is to curtsy first and then jump into bed." While Camilla 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 tradition. 

Reportedly, Camilla would tell people that, due to Keppel's affiliation, her family was "practically royal." Lynn Redgrave, who attended the same school as the queen consort, said that "landing a rich husband was the top of the agenda" for the future royal.

Camilla and Charles reportedly went to great lengths for their affair

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

Camilla 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 Camilla could spend the night with him. Stronach was then instructed to "mess up the bed" in Camilla's guest room in order to maintain appearances. 

Similarly, Camilla's home was reportedly set up in order to maintain the affair. Royal protection officers would notify Camilla 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.

Prince Charles reportedly launched 'Operation Parker Bowles' in 1997

It seemed as though the world would've ended before the once-heir to the British throne would get divorced, but that's what happened in 1996. King Charles III 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's 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."

She reportedly couldn't marry Charles initially because of her dating history

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 King Charles and Camilla 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 then-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 Charles her son's godfather

When Camilla, Queen Consort, was married to Andrew Parker Bowles, they had two children — Tom Parker Bowles and Laura Lopes. Now, we all know that Camilla and King 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 was like having the then-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'?

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 eventual British monarch, 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's 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 King 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."

The queen consort dabbles in ballet

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

As noted by Royal Central, Camilla 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. 

Camilla 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," Camilla said. "But I'm certainly not going to be taking to the stage."

Camilla admittedly doesn't recognize herself sometimes

To say that Camilla's 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, Camilla has been rather upfront 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 queen consort 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!'" Camilla shared. Here's your daily reminder to always keep those friends close — you never know when you'll need them.

Camilla guest-starred on a beloved TV show

When thinking of royals, it's easy to forget that they are humans with their own interests and hobbies. Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean that the interests of the House of Windsor members are going be something the rest of us can relate to.

Royal watchers were surprised in spring 2023 when Camilla, Queen Consort, appeared on the popular British series, "Antiques Roadshow." The show sees people bring their unique items to be valued by an expert. There, Camilla revealed one of her favorite hobbies — and it is perhaps much less grand than some may have assumed. "I love collecting books; it's one of my passions," she divulged on the show. The senior royal had brought along a book of poems that dated back to 1899, and according to the queen, "The very special thing is its binding. It was done by women binders — it was the first women's bindery." She continued saying, "They had a different touch to the men — it was slightly lighter." 

While collecting books is not necessarily an uncommon hobby, appearing on a TV show for that hobby is certainly far less common.

Camilla sells her own honey in one of Britain's priciest stores

Camilla, Queen Consort, has a lot on her plate. As one of the top royals in the House of Windsor, she's hardly ever idle. Because of her unique position as King Charles III's wife, Camilla doesn't have a regular job, but that doesn't mean that she doesn't work incredibly hard. In fact, one of her pursuits is surprisingly retail-based.

Back in 2015, Camilla launched her very own food product, bringing her gourmet honey onto the market. For many, it seemed like a strange thing for the then-Duchess of Cornwall to do, but it wasn't simply to line her pockets. Aptly named Duchess of Cornwall Honey, the golden liquid is stocked by luxury retailer Fortnum & Mason, where it originally sold for £20 a pop, with all proceeds going to charity, according to the Daily Mail. Interestingly, over eight years on and the price has remained the same, unlike many other food products.

The product description details, "Produced by bees housed in Her Majesty The Queen Consort's (formerly HRH The Duchess of Cornwall) own private garden in Wiltshire, this delicate limited-edition Honey is perfect on toast." While Camilla is many things, beekeeper is a surprising addition to her resume. It makes perfect sense, though, as Charles also created his own food brand, Duchy Originals, which is sold in upmarket retailers in the UK such as Waitrose. 

The queen consort is related to multiple famous people

It's no secret that a lot of members of the royal family who are born royal are related to many different royals across the globe. Even Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip were distantly related to each other as they were third cousins with ties to Queen Victoria. However, biological Windsors aren't the only ones with interesting relations. Queen Camilla is related to a different kind of royalty altogether — the Queen of Pop herself, Madonna. The pair are distantly linked as they both share common ancestors from the 17th century, Madeleine Ernard Zacharie Cloutier, according to the Daily Mail

This connection is impressive on its own, but Camilla's family tree doesn't end with Madge. She is also related to another iconic diva – Celine Dion – from the same ancestors, as well as Hollywood darling Angelina Jolie. Other famous names tied to the queen consort include Shania Twain, Justin Bieber, and Justin Trudeau. To say that's one famous family is an understatement, but there's another even more bizarre link.

Camilla's most famous relation is her own husband, King Charles III. The pair have the same relative, Henry Cavendish, the 2nd Duke of Newcastle, making them 9th cousins. It might be complex, but that's royalty for you!

Camilla is a fan of at least one reality TV show

They may be busy running around cutting ribbons, founding charities, and generally being British icons, but the royals still manage to catch some TV in their downtime. Camilla, Queen Consort, is a massive fan of one show in particular: "Strictly Come Dancing." The ballroom dancing competition series is better known as "Dancing with the Stars" in America. The British version of the show is exceedingly popular in England, and it's something that Camilla adores. 

In 2022, Camilla visited the set of "Eastenders," a British soap opera. Actor Rose Ayling-Ellis was the winner of "Strictly Come Dancing" the previous year, prompting Camilla to exclaim, "Rose, the 'Strictly' star. I said we were all voting for Rose, I don't know how you did all those dances" (via The Mirror). Ayling-Ellis cheekily asked if Queen Elizabeth II was a fan of the show, to which Camilla replied she thought she was. Back in 2019, Camilla even shared a dance with "Strictly" judge Len Goodman at the British Dance Council's 90th anniversary party.

The idea that Camilla and the rest of the royal family would spend their evening hours settling down to watch a reality show may tickle a lot of people who find it hard to imagine the royals having ordinary, mundane aspects to their lives just like the rest of us!

One of her favorite foods is raw peas

When we think of mealtimes for royals, we often think of private chefs creating gourmet dishes that are served on silver platters at ornate dining tables. After all, when you're as rich as they are and live in staffed palaces with everything you want just a ring of a bell away, why would you bother cooking yourself? While it's true that Camilla, Queen Consort, needn't lift a finger, she goes out into the garden and picks her favorite snack herself. There's nothing posh about that — and that's just how Camilla likes it. 

As she chatted to students during a visit to a school in Slough, Camilla let slip that she absolutely adores eating raw peas. "I tell you what I really like — eating peas straight from the garden," she said (via The Times Herald). "If you take them straight from the pod they are delicious and really sweet. I take all my grandchildren down to the garden and they spend hours and hours eating peas."

The image of Camilla getting her hands dirty and eating veggies straight from the earth is enough to give anyone pause for thought, but it just goes to show that even queens have their favorite, less-than-glamourous pastimes. King Charles III's wife has often talked about her love of gardening, so perhaps we should have expected her to sample the fruits vegetables of her labor.

Camilla refuses to wear one of the late queen's go-to colors

Figuring out what to wear when you're in the public eye so often must be a nightmare for royals. Their appearances are often scrutinized, with fans and media pundits looking into every single detail — from shoes to hats. It's a minefield of special occasion dresses, fashion statements, crown jewels, and more. While there are multiple rules around what one should and shouldn't wear as a member of the royal family, there is an element of personal preference, too. 

For instance, there is one particular color that Camilla, Queen Consort, absolutely refuses to wear. In an interview with Vogue in 2022, Camilla was asked if she happened to have an outfit the same color as the Wisteria in her garden so they could take a picture of her next to it. Camilla was quick to shoot down the suggestion, calling it "menopausal mauve." It's an interesting stance to take considering how fond of the hue Camilla's late mother-in-law, Queen Elizabeth II, was during her lifetime. Camilla's forthrightness when it comes to the color made for a funny read, adding a human element to her Vogue profile. 

Camilla didn't use the royal designation she was entitled to

You don't need to be a royal expert to know that the road to true love hasn't always been paved with gold for King Charles III and Camilla, Queen Consort. Their love affair throughout Charles' marriage to Princess Diana was the cause of a lot of uproar, especially among die-hard Diana fans who couldn't bear to see the people's princess heartbroken. Because of this, public opinion didn't always favor Camilla. However, by the time the duo tied the knot in 2005, the tide was starting to turn. It was because of this tumultuous situation that Camilla ultimately didn't become the Princess of Wales when she married Charles. 

Though Camilla had the right to take the title, she opted not to. According to royal author Robert Jobson's book, "Charles at Seventy: Thoughts, Hopes, and Dreams," it was decided that Camilla would be better off refusing that title. "Camilla, when married, would not take the title HRH The Princess of Wales, even though it was her right to do so, as it would be insensitive and cause undue hostility with Diana, Princess of Wales, in mind," Jobson wrote.

Given the fact that Camilla now holds one of the highest titles any member of the royal family can have, it may seem odd that she went with the distinction of duchess instead of princess. However, there's something to be said about timing. Additionally, after Charles became king, he bestowed Prince William's wife Catherine with the title, which felt more appropriate to many royal watchers.