The Duchess of Cornwall’s 75th birthday finally happened on Sunday. She spent the better part of two months being the subject of sugary birthday keenery, to mixed results. Yes, Camilla probably got the best press of her life in the past two months, but it really didn’t make much of a dent? If anything, I feel like most people either ignore her or have a visceral dislike of her. She reportedly spent her birthday at Highgrove with Charles, and there was a family dinner or something like that.
Anyway, Clarence House released two new birthday portraits, surprisingly not taken by the Duchess of Cambridge. These were done by Chris Jackson at Getty, who is a favorite of the royals. Much like the Country Life photos (done by Kate), Camilla is pictured at Ray Mill, her Wiltshire country home. People are always so squirrelly about Ray Mill, but yes, Charles bought it for her after she and Andrew Parker Bowles divorced. The idea was that Charles’s mistress needed a certain amount of upkeep. Charles bought Ray Mill for her (it’s a short distance from Highgrove) and Camilla got a clothing allowance, a makeover and use of Charles’s staff. Camilla maintains Ray Mill because she likes having her own space, especially when it comes to her children and grandchildren. Which is what she’s leaning into with the birthday keenery – yes, she’s a woman with a torrid past, but now she’s a country grandma. Also: the peaches in one of the photos? Camilla grew those herself in her Ray Mill garden.
This weekend, there was a lot of extra birthday keenery and glowing media pieces about how Camilla is much nicer, funnier and prettier (I sh-t you not) in real life than her reputation would have you believe. One source claimed that Camilla has finally “passed” the probationary period: “I suppose it’s been a bit like when you take on a new job and you have a probation period. You’re working really hard, but you always have one eye over your shoulder knowing at any minute it might be taken away. The Queen’s proclamation of the Queen Consort title was effectively the end of that probation and puts the Duchess right at the heart of the future of the family. She’s passed, and it allows her to relax into the job without worrying about making a mistake and losing support from either the public or the institution.” Keep in mind that Camilla has been Charles’s lover/mistress since the early 1970s, been married to him since 2005 and she’s his second wife. Is it really a probationary period if it’s decades long? Jeez.
Photos courtesy of Chris Jackson for Clarence House, Avalon Red.