CHRISTOPHER WILSON tells story of Camilla's adored Uncle Jeremy
As she prepares for Coronation Day, it would not be surprising if Camilla did not get out her family scrapbook and reflect on the milestones which have led her to become Queen.
Of her varied and colourful life, there’ll be many mementoes, but one photo taken 71 years ago stands out.
The glamorous bride is Diana du Cane, daughter of a wealthy Hampshire landowner and designer of Donald Campbell’s record-breaking powerboat Bluebird II. The groom is Jeremy Cubitt, dashing former Guards officer and Camilla’s favourite uncle. Rich and well-connected, the couple’s happiness seemed serene and assured.
Jeremy, then 25 and the younger brother of Camilla’s mother, Rosalind Shand, was the Eton-educated son of the 3rd Baron Ashcombe, whose forbears constructed London’s poshest enclave, Belgravia. His brother, Harry, went on to inherit the family peerage and marry the daughter of former Foreign Secretary Lord Carrington.
But the family story is marked by unanswered tragedy.
A gifted artist and companionable man, Jeremy joined the Coldstream Guards after school before entering the family firm, while also joining the Territorials as a highly-regarded platoon commander in the 10th Parachute Brigade. But despite his glittering wedding at St Mark’s Church, North Audley Street, on January 17, 1952, there were problems with the marriage, and after the birth of a daughter, the Cubitts parted.
At about this time, Jeremy quit the family firm and volunteered to help at the Oxford and Bermondsey Boys’ Club in London’s deprived docklands – an organisation which a few years earlier had encouraged a young Tommy Steele on his way to fame as a singer and entertainer.
‘He rang us up out of the blue and offered his services,’ recalled Edwin Harlow, warden of the club. ‘He was a well-bred, wealthy young man who had not been very happy. We thought he was trying to find himself by helping others.’
Source of data and images: dailymail