At King Charles III’s coronation at Westminster Abbey on May 6, 2023, his wife, Camilla, will be crowned alongside him as queen consort. It’s been a long road to this event for the woman born Camilla Rosemary Shand in 1947, who has been scrutinized throughout her relationship with—and eventual marriage to—Queen Elizabeth II’s eldest son. But despite the decades of public attention, there are some aspects of Camilla’s life that have been less well documented. Here are seven surprising facts about Camilla, Queen Consort.
1. The medical team that helped deliver Camilla, Queen Consort, at her birth also helped deliver King Charles III the following year
During a visit to King’s College Hospital in 2014, Charles III made a surprising revelation about the respective births of himself and Camilla. “My darling wife was born here but amazingly we had the same gynecologist and nurse,” he said. Charles III was born at Buckingham Palace in November 1948; the same medical team also attended Camilla’s birth at the hospital in July 1947.
2. Camilla, Queen Consort, is a distant relative of Madonna and Celine Dion.
As surprising as it might seem, Camilla shares some ancestry with both Madonna and Celine Dion. Each woman is a descendant of Zacharie Cloutier, a French carpenter who moved to Quebec, Canada (then known as New France) in the early 17th century.
3. Camilla, Queen Consort, once worked as a receptionist for a decorating firm (and was eventually fired).
Camilla worked a few different jobs in the 1960s, including at one Colefax and Fowler, a decorator in Mayfair. She was eventually fired for arriving late after attending a party. During a visit to New York in 1999, she encountered some of the staff she had worked with during those days and they reminisced together about it.
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4. Contrary to popular belief, she first met Charles III through a mutual friend, not at a polo match.
One of the most enduring myths about Camilla is that she and Charles III first met at a polo match, a story enhanced by a famous photograph of the two in conversation at such an event. However, a number of sources have disputed this. According to Jonathan Dimbleby’s 1994 authorized biography of Charles III—which was written with the then-prince’s cooperation—as well as in a more recent biography by Catherine Mayer, the two first met at the home of Lucia Santa Cruz, a mutual friend who was living in a flat near Camilla’s in London’s wealthy Belgravia district.
5. Camilla, Queen Consort, once made a guest appearance on a British radio soap opera.
The Archers is a long-running radio drama in the UK that was first broadcast in 1951. It follows the lives of the fictional residents of the village of Ambridge. Not every aspect of the show has been truly fictional, though. In 2011, a guest appearance was made by a real person very much playing themselves: Camilla. During her stint on the broadcast, she had tea with two of the characters on the show. You can read the transcript of her appearance online.
6. She has a longstanding fear of flying.
Despite all the international travel her royal work requires, Camilla has long had a fear of flying. This has sometimes led to her curbing her overseas travel: While she did accompany Charles III to Australia in 2018, she limited the number of days she spent there and did not take every plane journey in the trip.
7. Camilla, Queen Consort, invited Emerald Fennell—who played her on The Crown—to a reception in her home at Clarence House.
In seasons 3 and 4 of Netflix’s The Crown, which dealt with Charles III and Camilla’s relationship, she was played by Emerald Fennell, who received an Emmy nomination for her performance in the fourth season (and would also win the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for her film Promising Young Woman that same year). The show’s representation of Charles III and Camilla has been controversial in the royal family—but that didn’t stop Camilla from inviting Emerald to a reception in March 2022. The two posed for photographs together, and in a speech at the same event, Camilla said, “It is reassuring to know that, if I should fall off my perch at any moment, my fictional alter ego is here to take over.”