Camilla and her horrible history: One ancestor was blown up with barrels of gunpowder, another cut in half by a cannonball…and a third was a notorious sex-mad libertine. Biographer CHRISTOPHER WILSON unearths our next Queen’s family tree
- Christopher Wilson unveils Camilla’s family tree, including her royal relations
- Her ancestry connects her with at least 7 dukes, 6 marquesses and 15 earls
- The future Queen also counts three British Prime Ministers among her relatives
Meet the family: Kings, Queens and a pack of barons
Camilla’s family tree connects her with at least seven dukes, six marquesses, 15 earls, seven viscounts and eight barons.
She also descends directly from Jeanne, Queen of Navarre (1528-72), King Henry IV of France (1533-1610), King Frederick II of Denmark and Norway (1534-88), Mary Queen of Scots (1542-87), King James VI of Scotland and I of England (1566-1625), and King Charles II (1630-85).
She’s also related to the Queen through their mutual ancestor John Lyon, 8th Lord Glamis (1544-78), and to Princess Diana through William, the 2nd Earl of Albemarle (1702-54).
Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, pictured in 2013. Her family tree connects her with at least seven dukes, six marquesses, 15 earls, seven viscounts and eight barons
Camilla also descends directly from King Henry IV of France (1533-1610), King Frederick II of Denmark and Norway (1534-88), Mary Queen of Scots (1542-87) and others
Yes, Prime Minister: they are all related to the Duchess
Camilla counts three British Prime Ministers among her relatives.
First, George Canning, the shortest-serving Premier, who lasted just 119 days in Downing Street before his sudden death from pneumonia at the age of 57 in 1827.
The second, Alec Douglas-Home, also had a short career at No 10 – a mere 363 days, ending in 1964.
Henry, Lord Palmerston was twice Prime Minister, holding positions of state almost continuously from 1807 to his death in 1865.
Camilla is also related to Sir Allan MacNab, who was Prime Minister of Canada from 1854 to 1856.
Pictured: George Canning, the shortest-serving Premier, who lasted just 119 days in Downing Street before his sudden death from pneumonia at the age of 57 in 1827
Henry, Lord Palmerston (pictured) was twice Prime Minister, holding positions of state almost continuously from 1807 to his death in 1865
Bluebloods, an odd job man, a war hero…and a womaniser
One attribute that has endeared Camilla to the nation over the years is her common touch – joshing with the public, happy to defer, ready to take a joke.
Maybe that’s because, among her blueblood ancestors, there’s a central core of working-class stock.
Her father’s mother, Margot Tippet, was the daughter of an odd-job man – and the granddaughter of a London butler, Henry Harrington, who polished silver below stairs.
Harrington was considered courteous and efficient and rose to be a gentleman’s gentleman in the Belgravia household of a much decorated Army general, Sir Richard England.
Harrington and his wife had 12 children who grew up to become clerks and saleswomen, garage mechanics and shop assistants. One was a jobbing violin player.
Pictured: Camilla’s grandfather Philip Morton. His Eton and Cambridge-educated father was engaged to Irish author Constance Lloyd, who ditched him for Oscar Wilde
Queen of pop
Camilla is Madonna’s tenth cousin, via a French-Canadian line which involves the singer’s eight-times grandparent Zacharie Cloutier.
Madonna onstage during the 2021 MTV Video Music Awards
Harrington’s granddaughter Margot started work as a milliner but with the outbreak of the First World War retrained as a secretary.
In her job, she met the journalist Philip Morton Shand, who was working at the War Office. His Eton and Cambridge-educated father was engaged to Irish author Constance Lloyd, who ditched him for Oscar Wilde.
Shand Snr went on to wed Augusta, a shipping heiress, and their son Morton was schooled at Eton, Cambridge and then the Sorbonne in France.
He and Margot married in 1916 and nine months later she gave birth to a son, Bruce Middleton Hope Shand – Camilla’s father. Morton went off to serve in the Royal Field Artillery – and that, effectively, was the end of the marriage.
Margot remained close to Morton’s parents and it was they who largely brought up her son.
By now she’d cast aside her working-class origins and remarried. Her second husband was a golf-course designer, Charles Tippet.
For a time, Camilla’s infant father spent time with his mother and stepfather in the US. Morton, an incorrigible womaniser, married three times more.
In 1926, he was kicked out of France after a divorce from his third wife, the daughter of velvet manufacturers in Lyons.
The divorce judge told him: ‘Turn your attentions to another country!’ Soon after, he was sued for bankruptcy and in another divorce hearing was denounced by the judge, who said ‘a little wholesome publicity might curb your behaviour’.
Margot was no more a mother than Morton was a father, and their son was soon back in England with his grandparents before being shunted off to Rugby public school.
Bruce Shand grew up to be admired by all who knew him, and during the Second World War he won the Military Cross twice before being interned in a prisoner-of-war camp.
Shand Snr went on to wed Augusta (pictured), a shipping heiress, and their son Morton was schooled at Eton, Cambridge and then the Sorbonne in France
On his release, he married Rosalind Cubitt. It’s long been rumoured that Rosalind’s mother, Sonia, may have been the daughter of Edward VII and Alice Keppel, Camilla’s great-grandmother.
Indeed, Camilla is said to have introduced herself to Prince Charles with the words: ‘My great-grandmother and your great-great-grandfather were lovers – so how about it?’
Keppel was a mistress of the King and a question mark hangs over the paternity of Keppel’s second daughter Sonia, Camilla’s grandmother. If Sonia really was Edward VII’s daughter, it means Camilla is a second cousin once removed of Prince Charles.
Off with their heads! Camilla’s ill-fated relatives
An alarmingly large number of Camilla’s ancestors died a violent death.
Lord Darnley – married to Mary Queen of Scots and himself a contender for the English throne – was murdered, aged only 20, in February 1567.
Darnley was blown up with several barrels of gunpowder in a house in Edinburgh where he was staying while apparently battling syphilis.
His naked body was found strangled in a nearby orchard, along with that of his valet.
Lord Darnley – married to Mary Queen of Scots and himself a contender for the English throne – was murdered, aged only 20, in February 1567
His murder remains one of history’s most notorious unsolved crimes.
Next comes John Lyon, Lord Glamis, also an ancestor of our Queen, accidentally killed in 1578 aged 34 in a street brawl in Stirling. He was Lord High Chancellor of Scotland.
He was shot through the head, and a contemporary ascribed his unfortunate death to ‘his height’.
Robert Douglas, Master of Morton, went missing in 1585 aged 23 somewhere off the Barbary Coast.
Search parties were sent from England but he was never discovered. No one knows if the Scottish aristocrat was killed by pirates or ended his days in slavery in Algeria.
More detective work is still required to fill in the details of the unexplained murder of Agnes Fleming, Lady Livingston, an attendant to Mary Queen of Scots, who is linked to Camilla.
While travelling in England in 1597, she was murdered.
No motive is known. Among her seven children was one of Camilla’s ancestors, Jean Lady Elphinstone.
Another brutal death of one of the future Queen’s forebears was meted out to Robert, 1st Earl of Kingston during the English Civil War.
The Royalist was accidentally killed by his own side in July 1643.
Captured by the Roundheads, he was being transported as a prisoner to Hull when Royalist forces fired at his captors and Kingston’s body was cut in two by a cannonball.
Another victim was Sir John Gordon, executed, aged 34, in Edinburgh in 1644 for supporting King Charles I in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms.
James Stewart, Earl of Moray, carries the dubious distinction of being the first person to be assassinated by a firearm, in 1592. He was shot by a supporter of Mary Queen of Scots.
Finally, another Civil War victim was Sir John Hotham, who married five times and had 16 children. He had backed the Parliamentarians against the Crown, but was accused of treachery and executed with his son at Tower Hill.
Erotic writer behind the word ‘sadism’
A much discussed kind of notoriety is attached to the writer and philosopher the Marquis de Sade, Camilla’s relative through a 17th Century forebear, Sebastien, Baron de Ploeuc.
One of the most notorious figures in literature, de Sade’s works concentrated on sexual violence, suffering, perverted sex, crime and blasphemy; the word sadism derives from his name. Among his works was The 120 Days Of Sodom.
De Sade spent 32 years in various prisons and an institution for the insane, but defiantly continued to write his erotica, dying in an asylum aged 74 in 1814.
A much discussed kind of notoriety is attached to the writer and philosopher the Marquis de Sade (pictured), Camilla’s relative through a 17th Century forebear, Sebastien, Baron de Ploeuc
In 1769, Camilla’s great-great-great-great-great-grandfather, Robert Brakspear, became landlord of the Cross Keys pub in Witney, Oxon, and started brewing what became Brakspear’s Bitter.
Founder of Marxism
Somewhat improbably, Karl Marx and Camilla are related through a 17th Century Scottish aristocrat and politician, Sir Robert Campbell of Glenorchy.
The man whose writings encouraged the working classes to revolution and led to the birth of communism lived in exile in London for decades, having found that his theories were unacceptable in the land of his birth, Germany.
While in England, Marx attracted the interest of Queen Victoria’s daughter, Princess Victoria.
That curiosity was answered in a letter sent to her from a Scottish politician, in which he described Marx as speaking about her ‘several times with due respect and propriety’ despite expressing ‘plenty of acrid and dissolvent criticism’ of others he abhorred.
Somewhat improbably, Karl Marx (pictured) and Camilla are related through a 17th Century Scottish aristocrat and politician, Sir Robert Campbell of Glenorchy
The slave trader who showed no compassion
Like all families, Camilla has a controversial relative – Captain Samuel Bonham, a naval officer who became a notorious slave trader in the 18th Century.
In 1733, Bonham’s slave galley, the Sarah, sailed to America loaded with gold, elephant tusks and 408 slaves.
By the time it reached port, only 167 slaves had survived the 4,000-mile journey.
Professor Jonathan Catton of the Thurrock Museum, situated near the palatial mansion Bonham built from the proceeds of slavery, said in 2007: ‘Many will feel uncomfortable with the fact that Bonham traded in human lives, but at the time he was a respectable member of the community.
‘He would have regarded the slaves simply as goods. He had no compassion for them as at the time they were regarded as a sub-human species.’
Neither was Bonham above milking the system. When another of his galleys, the Anne, was captured by pirates, he demanded compensation from the British government. Nine years later his case still went unanswered.
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