Prince Charles was just 21 years old when he met Camilla Shand at a polo match at Windsor Great Park. Though they went on date briefly, Camilla and Charles would not get engaged for 35 more years, after both of them had been married and divorced. Camilla has come a long way in the eyes of the royal family since she first met Charles; This year, Queen Elizabeth announced it is her “sincere wish” that her daughter-in-law Camilla should be known as Queen Consort when Charles ascends to the throne.
Throughout the decades, there have been numerous books that purport to tell the true story of Charles and Camilla. Here, we picked the nine best books—biographies, photo diaries, and gossipy titles—that shed new light on the royals as individuals and as a couple.
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Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life
The Duchess: Camilla Parker Bowles and the Love Affair That Rocked the Crown
“There was no denying that the Prince did always love Camilla,” Penny Junor writes in the introduction to The Duchess. She and Charles, “are a compelling and well-matched couple, fired by the same ideals, tickled by the same sense of the absurd. They are friends, companions and soulmates.” Juror’s biography dives into how Camilla “came to play such a pivotal role in British history.” Junor followed the Duchess of Corwnall on official engagements over over a year, and spoke with her numerous times (though never formally interviewed her). She did, however, interview Camilla’s friends, family, and the people who work with her. This is as close to an authorized biography as the royal family gets.
Charles & Camilla: Portrait of a Love Affair
Billed as “the definitive account of one of the most extraordinary stories of our time,” writer and politician Gyles Brandreth followed his 2004 book on Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip’s relationship (Philip and Elizabeth: Portrait of a Marriage) with a look at Prince Charles and Camilla’s decades-long love affair. Brandreth was a biographer of Prince Philip and spent time with the late Duke of Edinburgh over 40 years; he wrote about Philip’s life extensively. Therefore, while Philip’s eldest son was new territory for him, he also provides the insider perspective. The tone is set with the epigraph to Charles & Camilla:A quote by Jean Anouilh, a French dramatist, who writes, “There is love, of course. And then there’s life, its enemy.” Consider it a must-read for those curious about Charles and Camilla’s complicated relationship.
The Palace Papers: Inside the House of Windsor–the Truth and the Turmoil
A newer look at the House of Windsor follows the British royal family from Princess Diana’s death through Harry and Meghan’s exit. It includes chapters on all the key players, including Charles and Camilla. While the biggest revelations of Tina Brown’s book had nothing to do with these two, there were still fascinating details revealed about the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall. If you love royal gossip and intrigue, The Palace Papers is 100% for you.
King Charles: The Man, the Monarch, and the Future of Britain
Royal reporter Robert Jobson dives into the life of Prince Charles in a 2019 biography titled King Charles. Jobson, who has written on Prince Philip, Princess Diana, Prince William, and other royals, turns his eye to the life of the Prince of Wales as he approaches his ascension to the throne. In particular, he dives into Prince Charles’s political beliefs—on subjects from climate change to Brexit—and speaks to “sources close to the Prince who has never spoken on the record before.”
Rebel Prince: The Power, Passion and Defiance of Prince Charles
British journalist Tom Bower’s Rebel Prince is full of wild claims. For example, Bower wrote that the Queen claim called Camilla “that wicked woman” and said she wanted “nothing to do with her.” He also claimed that the Prince of Wales once sent two bedrooms’ worth of furniture ahead of a visit to a friend’s house. If you love unsubstantiated gossip—this is for you.
Game of Crowns: Elizabeth, Camilla, Kate, and the Throne
Game of Crowns does not focus on Charles; Rather, it looks at the “relationships and rivalries” of the three most prominent women in the British royal family today: Queen Elizabeth, Camilla Parker Bowles, and Kate Middleton. One the current queen, and two the future queens.
Modern Monarchy: The British Royal Family Today
Photographer Chris Jackson has been documenting the royal family since 2003, and his first book is a fascinating collection of photographs, complete with Jackson’s own captions and insights. Included, of course, are pictures of Charles and Camilla over the years—allowing readers a front-row, behind-the-scenes glimpse at royal life.
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