Of all the addresses to carry a royal secret, it’s the least prepossessing. A brutal post-war residence block constructed on the positioning of a V-2 bomb crater, it’s an oasis of ugliness surrounded by the elegant Regency thoroughfares of Belgravia.
But when the partitions of Stack Home might speak, what scrumptious mischief they may converse of.
They could begin with that late October night virtually half a century in the past when, after an evening of dancing at midnight and intimacy of the basement flooring at Annabel’s, the chi-chi Mayfair membership, the 23-year-old Prince of Wales sat nervously sipping a cup of espresso.
It had been poured by his dance associate that night time, a gorgeous younger girl for whom the phrase ‘bubbly blonde’ was for as soon as an correct description and in whose two-bedroom flat the leisure was persevering with.
This was Camilla Shand, and she or he and Charles had simply been out on their first public date.
If builders get their approach, there received’t be a lot left of the constructing the place the Prince first set eyes on the lady who was, ultimately, to develop into his second spouse. Pictured: Charles and Camilla within the early days of their romance in 1975
The romantically inclined Prince was already infatuated with this daughter of a World Battle II hero. Camilla, whereas not conventionally fairly, possessed a sure one thing that males discovered highly effective and horny.
Right here, then, was the start of the bumpy trip that was to steer Camilla from her debs’ flat-share to changing into chatelaine of Clarence Home, Highgrove and Birkhall in Aberdeenshire.
If it was anybody else, you may think a kind of heritage-style blue plaques on the wall of Stack Home discreetly noting its position within the tangled love lifetime of Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall.
However there is no such thing as a such tribute — as is the royal approach — and fairly quickly, if builders get their approach, there received’t be a lot left of the constructing the place the Prince first set eyes on the lady who was, ultimately, to develop into his second spouse.
Plans have been drawn up by the Duke of Westminster’s Grosvenor Property to raze the Nineteen Fifties block in a £400 million redevelopment scheme.
The transfer to demolish what have been dubbed the ‘aristo-flats’ has provoked outrage amongst native folks, with greater than 200,000 signing a petition opposing the plans.
Yesterday royal officers have been at pains to insist that the Duchess had not — as had been reported — intervened privately within the row between residents and the Duke, Britain’s richest landlord.
Little doubt she has sentimental affection for the house the place she first lived as a girl-about-town, however there are intractable hyperlinks between the Royal Household and the 30-year outdated Hugh Grosvenor, who inherited a £9 billion fortune on the sudden loss of life of his father, the Sixth Duke of Westminster, in 2016.
A brutal post-war residence block constructed on the positioning of a V-2 bomb crater, it’s an oasis of ugliness surrounded by the elegant Regency thoroughfares of Belgravia. But when the partitions of Stack Home (pictured) might speak, what scrumptious mischief they may converse of
He’s godfather to Prince George, and his mom Natalia, the dowager duchess, is Prince William’s godmother. Charles is very near the household and used to shoot recurrently on the Westminster estates.
Nevertheless, his mates consider that the flat, simply across the nook from Victoria Coach Station, does have an vital maintain on Charles’s romantic reminiscence and of a happier time lengthy earlier than the home travails of his life with Diana.
It was no simpler, nevertheless. Charles’s first go to to Stack Home was in 1971 and the invitation got here not from Camilla however from one other glamorous younger magnificence, Lucia Santa Cruz, the daughter of the then Chilean ambassador to London.
That they had met at Cambridge College in 1968, shortly after he had begun as an undergraduate at Trinity School. A number of years older than Charles, Lucia was working as a analysis assistant to Lord (Rab) Butler, the distinguished former Tory grandee who was then Grasp of Trinity and writing his memoirs.
Over dinner within the Grasp’s rooms, the Prince and the delicate Lucia grew to become mates — however by no means lovers. Certainly, years later Charles was infuriated by accounts from Rab’s spouse, Girl (Mollie) Butler, that he had ‘reduce his tooth’ with Lucia.
When her mother and father returned to Chile, Lucia stayed on in London, taking a first-floor flat in Stack Home, and her neighbour within the flat under was Camilla.
In these days there was one thing quaintly old style concerning the flats which have been type of grace-and-favour properties reserved by their landlord, the Duke of Westminster, for aged family members and different favoured people.
Camilla certified as a result of her mom Rosalind was the sister of Lord Ashcombe whose grandfather, Thomas Cubitt, constructed the Grosvenor Property.
She rented the flat from Girl Moyra Campbell, a maid of honour on the Queen’s Coronation, and shared it together with her buddy, the Hon. Virginia Carington, whose father was Mrs Thatcher’s Overseas Secretary Lord Carrington.
‘Camilla’s bed room all the time regarded like a bomb had hit it,’ an outdated buddy recalled. ‘Virginia was pretty tidy so Camilla drove her nuts. The toilet was all the time a state after she’d been in it.’
Plans have been drawn up by the Duke of Westminster’s Grosvenor Property to raze the Nineteen Fifties block in a £400 million redevelopment scheme. Pictured: Hugh Grosvenor
The South American envoy’s daughter Lucia and Camilla, whose father Bruce Shand received a double MC in World Battle II, grew to become agency mates. In accordance with Camilla’s biographer, Penny Junor: ‘They have been out and in of one another’s flats day-after-day, borrowing garments, going to the identical dances and events — and at weekends Camilla would take Lucia to her mother and father’ home within the East Sussex countryside.’
Lucia even spent a Christmas with the Shands, the place she was handled as simply one of many household with a stocking filled with presents on the finish of her mattress.
The complication in all this was the presence in Camilla’s lifetime of Andrew Parker Bowles, a dashing Family Cavalry officer she had met at her debutante ball in 1965 and with whom she had been going out, on and off, ever since.
Parker Bowles, nevertheless, was no devoted boyfriend and noticed a string of different ladies behind Camilla’s again. So enter Cupid, within the form of Miss Santa Cruz.
With Andrew posted abroad, Lucia contrived to introduce Camilla to the Prince of Wales. Painful shyness, an inbuilt warning towards being snared by an adventuress and a common lack of expertise of ladies and their methods had stayed his hand when it got here to creating advances to the other intercourse.
One night when Lucia and the Prince had organized to exit, she requested him to select her up early, telling him she had ‘simply the woman for him’. The Camilla she described had ‘huge sympathy, heat and pure character’.
The Prince, who had a present for Lucia, additionally introduced one other for her buddy.
Their introduction has since gone down in historical past.
It was the night time Lucia informed them that they had ‘genetic antecedents’ — Alice Keppel, Camilla’s great-grandmother had famously been the long-term mistress of King Edward VII, Charles’s great-great grandfather. ‘Cautious, cautious,’ Lucia informed them. That night in Lucia’s first‑flooring flat they hit it off instantly.
For Charles it was a coup de foudre; he fell in love virtually without delay.
He discovered Camilla delightfully pure and neither fawning nor sycophantic. She additionally possessed an earthy sexiness that he discovered irresistible.
Fairly quickly he was ringing her up and alluring her out. There have been weekends at Broadlands, residence of his beloved great-uncle Lord Mountbatten of Burma, who inspired him to ‘sow his wild oats’ and have as many affairs as he might earlier than settling down into marriage.
But when he had considered Camilla as a bride at the moment, the Prince by no means stated.
Anyway, Andrew Parker Bowles was nonetheless on the scene, and it was the skilled soldier, not the Prince, whom Camilla was decided to marry. Some consider that she seduced Charles solely with the intention to make Andrew resentful after he engaged in a torrid relationship with Princess Anne.
Penny Junor believes there was a component of tit for tat in Camilla’s fling with Charles: ‘Her principal motivation was to have some pleasure and make Andrew jealous.’
With Parker Bowles away, the Prince and Camilla met up every time a possibility offered itself, together with that night time which started with dancing at Annabel’s and resulted in intimacy over the espresso cups.
Charles’s personal posting with the Navy, and Camilla’s subsequent engagement to Parker Bowles, hastened the top of the romance — or a minimum of that part of it.
And the way unhappy that Stack Home the place all of it started will, in all probability, quickly not stand as witness to this distinctive and most enduring of all royal love tales.