About The Duchess of Cornwall
The Duchess of Cornwall supports her husband, The Prince of Wales, in carrying out his work and duties as Heir to the Throne. She also undertakes public engagements on behalf of the charities that she supports.
Since her marriage to The Prince of Wales in 2005, The Duchess of Cornwall has become Patron or President of a number of charities and regularly attends events to support them. To find out more about Her Royal Highness's charitable work, please visit The Duchess’s official website.
The Duchess of Cornwall is the daughter of Major Bruce Middleton Hope Shand and The Hon Rosalind Maud Shand (nee Cubitt).
She was born Camilla Rosemary Shand on 17 July 1947 at King’s College Hospital, London, the eldest of three children. Her Royal Highness has a sister, Annabel Elliot; her brother, Mark Shand, died in 2014.
The Duchess was first educated at Dumbrells School, a co-ed school in Sussex, and then attended Queen’s Gate School in South Kensington.
She also attended Mon Fertile School in Switzerland and studied at the Institut Britannique in Paris.
Family and married life
The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall married at the Guildhall in Windsor on 9 April 2005 in a civil ceremony. Afterwards, there was a Service of Prayer and Dedication in St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, over which the Archbishop of Canterbury presided. Her Majesty The Queen then hosted a reception for The Prince and The Duchess at the Castle.
Her Royal Highness was formerly married to Brigadier Andrew Parker Bowles, and the marriage was dissolved in 1995. They had two children, Thomas Henry and Laura Rose. Her Royal Highness has five grandchildren.
Charitable work and interests
While The Duchess supports The Prince in his work and role as Heir to the Throne, she also helps a number of her own charities in her role as Patron or President. The Duchess is Patron or President of over 100 charities and organisations and supports them in various ways: hosting events, visiting projects, speaking publicly and writing messages of support.
Her Royal Highness’s charity work is varied but the key themes are:
- Supporting those affected by domestic abuse and sexual violence
- Empowering women
- The elderly and keeping active in older age
- Food and gardening
- Arts and culture
- The Military
The Duchess is an enthusiastic reader and works to promote the benefits of reading both to children and adults. The Duchess is Patron of a number of literacy charities, including the National Literacy Trust, Book Trust, First Story, the Wicked Young Writer Awards and Coram Beanstalk. As Vice-Patron of the Royal Commonwealth Society, The Duchess supports its flagship literacy project The Queen's Commonwealth Essay Competition and has hosted the annual winners’ reception at Buckingham Palace since 2013.
In January 2021, The Duchess launched her Reading Room on Instagram – a community space for book lovers to visit, to see videos, photographs and commentary from some of Her Royal Highness’s recommended authors. You can join the Reading Room by following @duchessofcornwallsreadingroom on Instagram.
For several years, The Duchess has highlighted the work of domestic abuse charities and the work they do to support victims and survivors, both in the UK and overseas, with the aim of breaking the taboo around the subject. Her Royal Highness recently became Patron of the UK charity, SafeLives and has also visited Refuge and Women's Aid in the UK. Her Royal Highness has attended round table discussions on domestic abuse in Australia in 2015 and as part of the Women’s Forum at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London in 2018.
Rape and sexual abuse
For over ten years, Her Royal Highness has helped to raise awareness of the difficult subject of sexual assault. The Duchess has done so primarily through a number of low-key visits to rape crisis centres to meet staff and clients who use these vital confidential services. In 2013, The Duchess created a Wash Bag initiative, providing Sexual Assault Referral Centres (or SARCs) with wash bags, containing shampoo, shower gel and other toiletries, which are given to those referred to the centres to use after their forensic examinations. Following a successful pilot of the project, the scheme has since grown from a London based pilot of 750 bags to a national distribution partnership with Boots of over 10,000 wash bags. The Duchess attended its national launch in Nottingham in March 2017. Her Royal Highness has also visited projects run by Barnardo’s, of which she is Patron, focussing on Child Sexual Exploitation.
Her Royal Highness is President of the Women of the World Festival, which started at the Southbank Centre in London and has now developed festivals in many countries around the world. The Duchess has championed the festival internationally in countries including Australia, the USA, Barbados, Ghana and Nigeria, as well as regularly hosting a reception at Clarence House for the WOW London festival. More recently HRH gave a key note address to launch the 10th WOW Festival in London in March 2020 and joined a video discussion about domestic violence as part of the WOW Global 24 festival in June the same year.
Her Royal Highness is involved with various charities that support older people in the community; she is President of the Royal Voluntary Society (of which The Queen in Patron) and Patron of The Silver Line, a free confidential helpline for older people experiencing loneliness. The Duchess is an active and engaged older person herself and turned 70 in 2017.
The Duchess has for many years raised awareness about osteoporosis, a disease from which her mother and grandmother both suffered. She became a Patron of the Royal Osteoporosis Society in 1994; and its President in 2001. Other Patronages include Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centres, Versus Arthritis, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and Duchenne UK. Her Royal Highness is also Patron of a number of hospices: Helen & Douglas House in Oxford, Children’s Hospice South West, Royal Trinity Hospice in London and Prospect Hospice in Swindon.
The Duchess is also Patron of Medical Detection Dogs, a charity that trains dogs to detect diseases using their incredible sense of smell, and to support individuals with complex health conditions who have limited awareness of an impending life-threatening medical event.
Food and gardening
The Duchess, like The Prince, is committed to supporting local food producers and encouraging children to learn more about where food comes from and to eat healthily. Her Royal Highness is Patron of the Big Lunch, an initiative run by the Eden Project which encourages communities to have lunch together on the first Sunday in June. The Duchess is also Patron of Jamie's Farm and President of Wines of Great Britain, and has undertaken a number of engagements with British Food Fortnight's schools projects. Her Royal Highness keeps bees, and the honey is sold by Fortnum and Mason to raise funds for charity. On World Bee Day 2020, The Duchess became President of Bees for Development – an organisation that supports people out of poverty through beekeeping.
The Duchess regularly attends concerts and the theatre with The Prince of Wales, and is a great supporter of the arts. Her Royal Highness is Patron or Vice-Patron of: the London Chamber Orchestra, St John’s Smith Square, the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, the New Queen’s Hall Orchestra, Elmhurst Ballet School, The Royal Society of Literature, The Friends of The Royal Academy, The Royal Academy of Dance, the Charleston Trust, the Unicorn Theatre and the Theatre Royal Bath. Her Royal Highness has also presented the Booker Prize for Fiction on several occasions.
The Duchess’s personal interest in animals and animal welfare is reflected in her patronages and charitable visits. With an enduring affection for horses and ponies, Her Royal Highness often attends racing and other equestrian events.
The Duchess is Patron of The British Equestrian Foundation and President of The Brooke, a charity which operates worldwide providing free veterinary treatment for horses and donkeys, as well as Ebony Horse Club, a riding centre in Brixton for children from deprived backgrounds.
The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall are Joint Presidents of Elephant Family. The charity was founded in 2002 by The Duchess's brother, Mark Shand, who dedicated his life to saving the Asian Elephants.
The Duchess owns two Jack Russell terriers, Beth and Bluebell, who were both rescue puppies from Battersea Dogs and Cats Home in London. In 2017 Her Royal Highness became Patron of the charity.
When at Birkhall, their home in Scotland, Their Royal Highnesses enjoy fishing, walking and cross-country skiing in the Scottish countryside and they share a passion for gardening and painting. The Duchess is also a member of the Tetbury Women’s Institute and the Llandovery Women’s Institute (WI) and, as a keen flower arranger, is Patron of the charity Floral Angels.
Supporting The Queen
The Duchess of Cornwall supports The Prince of Wales in his work and role as Heir to the Throne. Her Royal Highness is also President or Patron of over 100 charities and organisations and undertakes public engagements on their behalf.
Since her marriage, Her Royal Highness has travelled widely with The Prince and on her own solo engagements, meeting people from all over the world and all walks of life.
Her Royal Highness has eight UK military appointments that cover all three services. With The Prince, Her Royal Highness supports the work of the Armed Forces in the UK and overseas whenever possible. During a ceremony which took place simultaneously at Windsor Castle and Highgrove House in July 2020, The Duchess succeeded her father-in-law, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, as Colonel-in-Chief of The Rifles. The Duchess also became Colonel-in-Chief of The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada in January 2011 and has held the role of Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Australian Corps of Military Police since 2012.
Her Royal Highness’s father, Major Bruce Shand, served with the 12th Royal Lancers during the Second World War, including at El Alamein, and was a prisoner of war. He was awarded the Military Cross twice.
The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall are among the United Kingdom's most important ambassadors abroad.
Every year, Their Royal Highnesses travel overseas at the request of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office to further British diplomatic interests, raise the UK’s profile in the country visited and promote British excellence.
In 2019, The Prince and The Duchess carried out an official visit to New Zealand and The Solomon Islands. In November 2020, Their Royal Highnesses visited Germany to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War and to pay their respects to all the victims of that conflict.
Charities and Patronages
Sea Cadet Unit linked to HMS Astute.Region: UK (England)Members of the Royal Family:The Duchess of Cornwall, Patron
Ty Hafan: The Hospice for Children in WalesWebsite: www.tyhafan.org
Offers palliative care for terminally sick children and respite support for their families.Region: UK (Wales)Members of the Royal Family:The Prince of Wales, Patron
Works with food providers and producers to save quality surplus food from being sent to landfill and to redistribute it to charities working with the homeless and the vulnerableRegion: UK-wideMembers of the Royal Family:The Duchess of Cornwall, Patron
Unicorn Theatre for ChildrenWebsite: www.unicorntheatre.com
Provides theatrical performance and drama education programmes for children.Region: UK-wideMembers of the Royal Family:The Duchess of Cornwall, Patron
Variety AustraliaWebsite: www.varietyaustralia.org.au
Raise funds for sick, disadvantaged and disabled children in Australia.Region: AustraliaMembers of the Royal Family:The Prince of Wales, Patron
Versus ArthritisWebsite: www.arc.org.uk
Raises funds to promote medical research into the cause, treatment and cure of arthritic conditions.Region: UK (England)Members of the Royal Family:The Duchess of Cornwall, Patron
Victoria Cross and George Cross AssociationWebsite: www.victoriacross.org.uk
Association of holders of the VC and GC, awarded for outstanding bravery.Region: UK-wideMembers of the Royal Family:Her Majesty The Queen, Patron
The Prince of Wales, President
Walk the WalkWebsite: www.walkthewalk.org
Breast cancer campaign raising money for scientific research.Region: UK-wideMembers of the Royal Family:The Prince of Wales, Patron
Aims to improve water supply and sanitation in developing countries.Region: InternationalMembers of the Royal Family:The Prince of Wales, President
Wells Cathedral Preservation TrustWebsite: www.wellscathedral.org.uk
Raises funds for the conservation of Wells Cathedral.Region: UK (England)Members of the Royal Family:The Prince of Wales, President