2005-04-16 00:31:38 UTC
curtsey to a big cake at Queen Charlotte's Ball, which is what they
all do, she, like the other young "virgins", wore white. But she
certainly had boyfriends who she went to bed with. Kevin Burke, son of
Sir Aubrey Burke, the deputy chairman of the Hawker Siddeley Group, the
aircraft manufacturer, and therefore very much the right sort of chap,
never confirmed whether or not he went to bed with Camilla two days
after her party as has been reported, but he has talked, fondly and
ruefully, about their time together
Soon after ditching Kevin Burke, Camilla went out with Rupert Hambro,
of the fantastically rich and powerful Hambro banking family. Then
Andrew Parker Bowles hove into view; not so rich, not so powerful but
dashed handsome and a bit aristocratic. Camilla turned her headlights
on full beam. From that time, Camilla, when not in the country with the
horses, could generally be found at her new boyfriend's flat in the
"You would go round there on a Saturday morning," recalls a friend,
"and Andrew would be cooking breakfast and making coffee. Around 11,
Camilla would stagger downstairs looking bleary-eyed and a little
dishevelled. She would walk around wearing one of his big shirts. She
would sit on Andrew's knee and tease his hair. They clearly had a
very lusty, healthy life together." A former girlfriend of Andrew
Parker Bowles's has said "his greatest gift to women was the
knowledge that sexuality was healthy - something to be explored. That
openness about sex was his gift to Camilla. She was very innocent when
they met, but they spent many, many nights together. He schooled her in
the ways of the world."
Camilla really, really, quite desperately wanted to marry Andrew Parker
Bowles. She was in love with him and he was being difficult and elusive
and playing the field, which would have made a young girl feel wretched
with love. This could well be why she chatted up Prince Charles at a
polo match in the summer of 1970. And while Charles may not have been
as handsome as Andrew, he would have been looking pretty sweaty and
As one friend of Camilla's explains it now, "You have to remember
that practically everything he says to her is going to be interesting.
If he is telling you about something that has happened with his mother
and his mother is the Queen then it automatically becomes quite, quite
fascinating. Camilla has a ringside seat. I think that is what she
likes. She knows the truth, and wouldn't we all love to know the
truth? And then sometimes you can spill little bits of the beans and
that in turn makes you interesting."
What is likely is that Camilla knew that she and Prince Charles would
never have married even if they had been allowed to because what she
wanted was her handsome, outgoing, bounding heart-throb, not her
forlorn, introverted Prince who needed cheering up with whoopee
cushions and Spike Milligan impersonations.
Camilla and Andrew were married in July 1973. She had done what she was
supposed to. She didn't have any qualifications to speak of and she
had her lovely, cigaretty, ginny life stretching before her. She might
have got bored. But she didn't. Andrew was away from Monday to
Friday, but Camilla always had Charles, the one she called "my
favourite little Prince". He needed his sex-motherer too much not to
have come sniffing around her marriage.
Camilla was there in her kitchen, with her dogs and her Aga, ladling
out some nice sweet mothering. Visitors have described him sitting
patiently like a small, cold child in the kitchen waiting for Camilla
to see her guests off after a dinner party. Sometimes he would slope
off upstairs with something nursery-ish, shepherd's pie or macaroni
cheese on a tray. He was like the Winslow Boy, arriving home
unexpectedly out of the rain, wanting nanny to give him a hot bath, a
milky drink and, in the Prince's case, a quick dip into her cleavage.
And Andrew, it seems, was all for it. One old hunting chum went as far
as to say that, "He loved every second of it. The idea is to keep it
in the family. Better us than them, you see." What they didn't want
was a Lady Chatterley situation - no gamekeepers, gardeners or grooms
- it was fine as long as it was among their own kind.
An unnamed butler who worked for Camilla's grandmother, Sonia Cubitt,
at her house, Hall Place in Hampshire, told this story about the
recently married new mother Camilla and the bachelor Prince Charles.
"I well remember the first time the Prince came to Hall Place. He
arrived at 6pm and after a few minutes talking to Mrs Cubitt he
vanished into thin air with Camilla.
"She had been wandering around the house all day wearing a pair of
jeans with no zip - the flies were held together with a safety-pin.
This sort of behaviour shocked Mrs Cubitt and she demanded to know
whether Camilla was going to change into a frock before the Prince's
arrival. 'I can even see your drawers, Camilla', I heard her
bellow. Camilla's reply was, 'Oh, Charles won't mind that'."
It is unlikely that Camilla ever regarded Diana as a friend. As one
intimate recalls, Camilla said, "The good thing about Diana is that
she will love him a lot." She rather glaringly failed to say how much
she hoped Diana would be loved by him. This could well be why her
relationship with Prince Charles has lasted - she only ever thinks of
Camilla is not a woman's woman. She is a tomboy who likes being one
of the lads. No one says, as they said of Diana, that she goes out of
her way to help people or comfort them, that she writes thank-you
letters immediately or sends presents. But they do say that she cheers
people up just by being herself, bounces them along with that inner
something - she is good old, bad old, Tiggerish Camilla.
Would Wallis Simpson have hung around all those years unmarried, not
officially recognised, compared to a horse and a haddock? Which proves
just one thing, whatever kind of person Camilla Parker Bowles is -
adorable, as Jilly Cooper says, good fun, as so many of her friends
say, a good mother, an excellent sex-motherer, manipulative, unfeeling,
scheming, raunchy, all those things - she is also constant.