It is the cause closest to Queen Camila’s heart. For more than a decade, she has spoken out against domestic violence, and almost her first act on becoming Queen was to convene a conference at Buckingham Palace to draw world attention to the rising tide of violence against women. women.
His new status meant his message was heard by a powerful audience, including government ministers such as Home Secretary Suella Braverman and Health Secretary Steve Barclay, the Queens of Jordan and Belgium, the First Lady of Ukraine , Olena Zelenska, and anti-violence activist and ex-Spice. Melanie Brown Girl.
In a direct speech, Camilla spoke of ‘the global pandemic of violence against women’ and described her grief at meeting many victims and their families. Her sincerity and passion were evident.
However, why Camilla feels so invested in this issue, perhaps above all others, has never been fully explained.
But The Mail on Sunday may reveal a possible reason: a horrific episode of domestic violence in his own family that ruined his father’s life, leaving him at times parentless and in childhood misery.
For more than a decade, Queen Camilla has spoken out against domestic violence, but why the cause is so close to her heart has never been fully explained.
Writer Philip Morton Shand, Camilla’s grandfather, was a wife beater and serial womanizer, National Archives documents reveal.
The official divorce papers detail how Philip Morton Shand violently assaulted his wife by dragging her out of bed into a guest room in her nightgown by her arms, bruising her chest and knees and hitting her head, as a result of which (she) passed out
Commander Bruce Shand, who died aged 89 in 2006, was the son of writer Philip Morton Shand and his first wife Edith.
Morton, as he preferred to be known, came from a wealthy family and was educated at Eton and Cambridge, the Sorbonne, and the University of Heidelberg.
Edith came from a different class, a descendant of Essex farmers who grew up in an old-fashioned suburb of London.
It was a strange game, but it was war time. The couple married in April 1916. Edith soon became pregnant.
But, as distressing documents recovered from files at the National Archives by The Mail on Sunday last week show, Camilla’s paternal grandfather was a serial wife beater and womanizer, leaving a trail of destruction in three marriages.
On August 17, 1916, when Edith was four months pregnant with the baby who would become Camilla’s father, her husband attacked her at their mansion overlooking Battersea Park in southwest London.
The official divorce papers (Edith sued for divorce in 1919) state: ‘The said Philip Morton Shand violently assaulted (his wife) by dragging her out of bed by the arms into a spare room in her nightgown, bruising her chest and knees and beating himself head, as a result of which (she) fainted.
“At the time (she) was pregnant, and in view of her condition, (Shand’s) father took her on medical advice to his home in Edwardes Place.”
Not surprisingly, after so much brutality, the marriage ended after just a few months.
Shand joined the Royal Fusiliers, “a short, lackluster service” as he described it, while Edith was left alone to give birth to their son.
Almost Camilla’s first act upon becoming queen was to convene a conference at Buckingham Palace to draw world attention to the rising tide of violence against women.
Three years later, when Shand returned from the war, he arranged what men of his class did to provide grounds for divorce: he allowed a private investigator to discover him in a room at London’s Strand Palace Hotel with an unknown woman.
However, this was not an orchestrated one-night stand with a lady of easy virtue to meet the requirements of the divorce court. Shand spent a nice long weekend with the woman.
So when the case went to court, the terrible episode of domestic violence was overshadowed by the (in those days) much more socially unacceptable fact of having been found in bed with another woman.
Shand himself was a complex and unrepentant character.
“Extroverted, storyteller, and eccentric, he annoyed many with his frankness,” wrote a biographer.
His impatience and intolerance were legendary. And he had all the hallmarks of upper-middle-class bigotry: he was racist, sexist, and anti-Semitic, even though he was undeniably smart.
His friend Sir John Betjeman, later poet laureate, chose his words carefully when contributing to Morton’s 1960 obituary in The Times.
“His meticulousness, honest expression of opinion, and sharp wit set him apart from the crowd,” he wrote, in other words, poetic license to “he was an objectionable man.” The consequences of this lack of self-control were considerable.
During Morton Shand’s time at war, his wife Edith, Camilla’s grandmother, fell in love with a shaken ex-infantry officer named Charles Tippet, and after her final divorce from Shand, they married.
It meant that their son Bruce had an unstable, unhappy and itinerant childhood, living part of the time with his grandparents, other times with his mother and stepfather.
In her memoirs, titled Previous Commitments, she makes no mention of her mother and barely acknowledges her father. In his mind, he had grown up an orphan.
His grandparents paid for him to go to Rugby School, which he said he “did not like cordially”. He joined the Army at the age of 18 where he finally found the family background he felt was denied him.
Meanwhile, Bruce’s bully father screwed up and married the daughter of an Indian police administrator.
That union lasted a couple of years, and she successfully sued for divorce in 1924 on the grounds of “cruelty, adultery, and desertion.”
There was a daughter of the marriage, Camilla’s half-aunt Doris, who is believed to have never met her father.
Morton Shand paused briefly for breath after this second divorce, but then while living in France, he met a wealthy 29-year-old woman rejoicing in the name of Georgette Elisabeth Edmée Thérèse Avril.
At his wedding in Lyon, Morton described himself as a company director, adding to the many other labels he had given himself over the years: writer, journalist, private secretary and literary agent, among other.
Georgette’s father owned a velvet factory, and Morton was included on the board, but even that could not ensure his loyalty.
After the couple moved to London, he began an affair with the wife of a retired naval officer, sharing a flat with her not far from their marital home.
At that time, his lover was pregnant. It is possible that he was the father of the girl. In any event, Morton and the woman had a daughter together, who became the wife of Margaret Thatcher’s chancellor, Sir Geoffrey Howe.
When it came to the inevitable divorce proceedings between Shand and Georgette, the same old story of adultery was easily proven, though no cruelty was alleged.
At the High Court divorce hearing, the judge, Lord Merrivale, criticized Shand: “Of course, there is no legal means of preventing a man like him from causing the havoc he is apparently capable of causing, but perhaps a little healthy publicity may limit your activities somewhat, at least in this country.
Georgette received the equivalent of £15,000 a year in maintenance, an easily affordable sum from the wealthy family of her mother’s Liverpool shipping empire.
If Bruce Shand’s childhood had been miserable, so had his father’s. A biographer described him as ‘unhappy’ and explained: ‘His father’s lifestyle was that of a dilettante, while his mother was religious, prudish and energetic.
“Constantly engaged in the pursuit of good works and personally lazy and hopeless, she would express concern about her son’s upbringing, but later left that responsibility largely to the nannies.”
Philip Morton Shand died in 1960 in Lyon, home of his third wife, with his fourth wife at his side.
Everything Camilla thinks of the black sheep of the family, only her closest circle knows. She may be glad that her grandfather has become a funny book writer.
But as official documents in the National Archives show, her latest legacy is an act of savagery against a pregnant woman, which may well have inspired Camilla to spend much time advocating for victims of domestic violence.
A spokesman for Queen Camilla said she had no comment on her late grandfather.
Christopher Wilson is the author of The Windsor Knot: Charles, Camilla, and The Legacy of Diana. Additional research by Cameron Charters.