Prince Charles and wife Camilla recently celebrated their 12th wedding anniversary, but in a new interview the Duchess of Cornwall opens up about the scandal that ensued when the exposure of her affair with the heir to the British throne (when they were both married) caused a media firestorm that led her to be vilified in the press — and become a prisoner in her own home.
“I couldn’t really go anywhere,” the Duchess tells the Daily Mail. “But the children came and went as normal — they just got on with it, and so did great friends.”
“It was horrid,” she adds of that time in her life, with the public blaming her for the demise of Charles’ marriage to the universally beloved Princess Diana. “It was a deeply unpleasant time and I wouldn’t want to put my worst enemy through it. I couldn’t have survived it without my family.”
As she explains, she spent her days delving into books. “I would pass the time by reading a lot — more than I’d ever have been able to in a normal life. I thought, well, if I’m stuck here I might as well do something positive like read all the books I want to read, and try to learn to paint — though that wasn’t a huge success! — and after a while, life sort of went on.”
In the interview, Camilla also candidly addresses her royal workload as consort to the Prince of Wales, which sees her conducting more than 200 engagements each year.
“Sometimes you get up in the morning and think you can’t do it, and you just have to,” she says. “The minute you stop it’s like a balloon, you run out of puff — you sort of collapse in a heap.”
At the end of the day, she says that her sense of humour has helped her get through the toughest times. “You also have to laugh at yourself because if you can’t, you may as well give up,” she says. “I sometimes think to myself, ‘Who is this woman? It can’t possibly be me.’ And that’s really how you survive.”