In the first in-depth biography of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall—the infamous other woman who made the marriage of Britain’s Prince Charles and Princess Diana "a bit crowded"—esteemed royal biographer Penny Junor tells the unlikely and extraordinary story of the woman reviled as a pariah who, thanks to numerous twists of fate, became the popular princess consort.
Few know the Windsor family as well as veteran royal biographer and journalist Penny Junor. In The Duchess, she casts her insightful, sensitive eye on the intriguing, once widely despised, and little-known Camilla Parker Bowles, revealing in full, for the first time, the remarkable rise of a woman who was the most notorious mistress in the world.
As Camilla’s marriage to Charles approached in 2005, the British public were upset at the prospect that this woman, universally reviled for wrecking the royal marriage, would one day become queen. Sensitive to public opinion, the palace announced that this would never happen; when Charles eventually acceded to the throne, Camilla would be known as the princess consort. Yet a decade later British public sentiment had changed, with a majority believing that Camilla should become queen.
Junor argues that although Camilla played a central role in the darkest days of the modern monarchy—Charles and Diana’s acrimonious and scandalous split—she also played a central role in restoring the royal family’s reputation, especially that of Prince Charles. A woman with no ambition to be a princess, a duchess, or a queen, Camilla simply wanted to be with, and support, the man who has always been the love of her life. Junor contends that their marriage has reinvigorated Charles, allowing him to finally become comfortable as the heir to the British throne.
British journalist, broadcaster, and author Penny Junor has covered the Royal Family for nearly thirty years. She is the author of biographies of both the Prince and Princess of Wales, their two sons, and two British prime ministers, and the coauthor of Patti Boyd’s autobiography, Wonderful Tonight, which was an instant number one New York Times bestseller. She is married with four children and lives in Wiltshire, England.
★ 02/01/2018Library Journal
What seems like simple truth is generally more complex, and according to journalist Junor (Prince Harry: Brother, Soldier, Son), such is the case with Camilla Parker Bowles, now the Duchess of Cornwall, who married Prince Charles in 2005. Everyone imagines that they know the real duchess, while many remain convinced that her behavior largely caused the collapse of Prince Charles's marriage to Diana, Princess of Wales. Even now Camilla continues to suffer public disapproval because of the unrelenting media attention she drew during Diana and Charles's marriage crisis. Junor's biography focuses on Camilla's friendship with Charles before his marriage to Diana, her support and friendship during its collapse, and their eventual union after Diana's death in 1997. Sympathetic and thoughtful toward her subject, Junor's scrupulously even-handed portrait shows the Duchess of Cornwall as dignified, kind, witty, and hardworking. VERDICT Thoroughly well-written, this is a believable portrait of a woman who did not seek publicity or a royal role but instead to support the love of her life, Prince Charles.—Penelope J.M. Klein, Fayetteville, NY
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.