CAMILLA, DUCHESS OF CORNWALL is expected to join Remembrance events this weekend – and the Duchess has a particularly touching connection to the Armed Forces, in her beloved late father.
The Duchess of Cornwall is expected to join the Queen and the rest of the Royal Family for tonight’s Festival of Remembrance, and attend Remembrance Day solemnities at the the Cenotaph tomorrow. However, royal fans are hoping that Camilla will indeed be able to make the engagements, after doctors advised the Duchess to miss out on a Remembrance event this week. Camilla was due to open the Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey alongside Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, but a chest infection meant she was forced to cancel.
Like many Britons, Camilla has a very personal connection to Armed Forces, which will surely make this weekend’s commemorations even more touching for her.
Her father, the late Major Bruce Shand, was an officer in the British Army, and served with particular distinction in World War 2.
Indeed, the Duchess has spoken with great emotion in the past about the personal importance of Remembrance events that she has undertaken to honour her late father.
The Major served in the 12th Lancers, as part of the British Expeditionary Force, and in the 7th Armoured Division during the conflict.
He was evacuated from Dunkirk and was awarded his first Military Cross for his actions there in covering the British Force’s retreat.
He won his second Military Cross in north Africa in 1942 after covering a withdrawal of British Forces in the face of a strong counterattack by the Afrika Corps.
Major Shand was held as a prisoner of war in Germany after being captured in North Africa in November 1942, and was held in Spangenburg Castle for the rest of the war.
Due to the wounds he suffered during his capture in north Africa, which saw his two crewmen killed, he retired from the Army in 1947, the year of Camilla’s birth, with the honorary rank of Major.
The Major died in 2006 from cancer, with his family, including the Duchess of Cornwall, by his bedside.
The duchess’ biographer Penny Junor, in her 2017 book “The Duchess”, writes how her father’s death was “a real blow” for Camilla.
However, the Major was able to see his final wish granted that Prince Charles marry his daughter.
According to Ms Junor: “He took Charles aside and said, ‘I want to meet my maker knowing my daughter’s all right’.”
The year of her father’s death, the Duchess of Cornwall made a particularly poignant visit to the site of the Major’s capture, and the graves of his comrades who died there.
The BBC reported at the time: “After laying a wreath on his behalf, she could barely control her emotions, commenting: ‘I’ve got a huge lump in my throat. It’s quite hard to speak. I’m so pleased that I’ve done it for my father.’”
Camilla and Prince Charles have been widely praised for their commitment to veterans, with a Royal British Legion representative commending the royal pair.
Speaking on podcast , the Royal British Legion’s head of remembrance Catherine Davies said: “I had the privilege of being in Bayeux for the 75th anniversary of D-Day commemorations [in June].
“We had an enormous marquee for our veterans after the service.
“I was completely blown away by the amount of time the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall spent with each and every veteran in that room.
“There were some photographs, but this wasn’t for the public, this was of the veterans, this was for that community.
“This was just them doing something that they feel strongly about.”
The Duchess can often be seen sporting the insignia of the The Rifles at remembrance events, as she is the Royal Colonel of the 4th Battalion of The Rifles.