When Country Girl Camilla Comes to Town; Friends, Family and the Haunts Drawing Prince Charles's Fiancee to the Capital
Byline: SIMON DAVIES
THE traffic on the M4 from Gloucestershire to town can be "beastly", according to Camilla Parker Bowles: "I only come up to town for two days a week if I can help it." Camilla is not given to swanking about the capital.
She has a reputation for being happier mucking out horses and nipping over to Jilly Cooper's, who lives near Highgrove, for a mug of tea and a natter about the veg patch rather than being London's most soughtafter saloniste.
And yet, her forthcoming marriage to Prince Charles will usher in a new role in London.
But what does life hold for her in in the capital? Where are her haunts?
Where does she shop? Who will she play with? And what will she do in the evenings?
Before Prince Charles divorced, Camilla would come to London and stay with her great friend Virginia Carrington, daughter of Lord Carrington, in South Kensington - or with the Marquess of Douro and his wife, heir to the Duke of Wellington, in their flat atop the Wellington London home, Apsley House.
Now she will be the chatelaine of Clarence House. This will be the couple's London home, and venue for many social events.
The guest list is likely to include Stephen Fry, Joanna Lumley, Eve Pollard, Jonathan Dimbleby, the Duke of Devonshire, Jacob Rothschild, Charles and Patty Palmer-Tomkinson, Lord Lloyd-Webber, the exiled King Constantine of Greece and Betsy Bloomingdale.
Camilla might have lunch with one of her close circle of friends, such as Candida Lycett Green, Lady Mary Christie from Glyndebourne, Teresa Wells, wife of the late polymath John Wells, who was a good friend of Charles, Leonora Lichfield or her best friend, her sister Annabel Elliot. It was at Annabel's 50th birthday party at the Ritz in 1999 that Prince Charles and Camilla made their first public appearance together.
For lunch, she likes to nip up the road to Green's on Duke Street, the smart oyster bar run by Simon Parker Bowles, the jolly brother of Camilla's former husband, Andrew.
They all remain friends.
If not Green's, where she loves Dover sole and a glass of Chablis, Camilla heads to The Caprice, where she is well looked after by the discreet Jesus Adorno, the restaurant's director.
She enjoys The Sloane Club, the unfussy bastion of cosiness for country types, where you can get a hearty roast. She has stayed here in the past and also at the Goring Hotel, just behind Buckingham Palace. She also likes to meet her brother, Mark Shand, at his favourite restaurant La Famiglia in Chelsea.
She loves establishment haunts such as Kensington's Launceston Place, Wilton's on Jermyn Street and Mark's Club, London's grandest private dining room on Charles Street, off Berkeley Square. These are all private member's clubs and safe havens for Camilla. She does not like The Ivy as she gets hounded by photographers.
Two of the major reasons Camilla is starting to enjoy London more are her children, Tom and Laura.
Laura, 25, is the quieter of the two and lives in a flat off Sloane Square.
She runs an art gallery in nearby Pimlico called Space, and is keen on showing her mother the edgier aspects of London's contemporary art scene. …