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The key aunt Camilla by no means met – born after her womanising grandfather cheated on pregnant spouse

With little fanfare, a loss of life discover for Sylvia Bunn was positioned within the pages of a Sussex newspaper. 

It mentioned she had handed away on December 11, 2007, aged 87, including: ‘She shall be sadly missed.’ 

A Requiem Mass was adopted by a burial at Bexhill Cemetery. No flowers had been requested however it was urged that donations might be given to the charity Assist The Aged.

Few individuals knew Sylvia, a retired dentist’s widow. However it emerged that her will, written the yr earlier than her loss of life, had given the clue to a outstanding household connection. 

For these within the know, her delivery title linked her to Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, of whom she was the forgotten aunt.

As we speak, The Mail on Sunday can inform the fascinating life story of Sylvia. Though Camilla by no means met her and a spokesman at Clarence Home declined to remark, it’s believed the long run Queen Consort is conscious of Sylvia’s existence.

The Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla, has a forgotten aunt named Sylvia Bunn, the half-sister of Camilla’s father Bruce Shand

Camilla (pictured at Ascot Racecourse) and her spokesperson have declined to comment

Camilla (pictured at Ascot Racecourse) and her spokesperson have declined to remark

Sylvia was the half-sister of Camilla’s father Bruce Shand, and her life was largely lived away from England, partly to cloak the unhappiness at having been rejected by her household.

She was born in 1920, the daughter of Eton and Cambridge-educated journalist Philip Morton Shand, a serial adulterer whose life featured a string of mistresses whom he seduced in a chaotic, disorderly style. 

The incorrigible however charming womaniser was married 4 instances: first to Margot Harrington, a secretary, who gave delivery to Camilla’s father Bruce in 1917, and secondly to Sylvia’s mom, Agatha Alys Fabre-Tonnerre, with whom he started an affair whereas Margot was pregnant. 

It was not lengthy earlier than Alys, as she was recognized, a 25-year-old London College graduate from a distinguished French-Indian household and 7 years his junior, additionally turned pregnant.

The couple escaped to Edinburgh, the place they holed up on the St Andrews Resort in preparation for a swiftly organized marriage ceremony. 

Two college students had been hauled off the road to behave as witnesses, and only a fortnight after the nuptials, Alys gave delivery to a lady they known as Doris – a reputation the woman grew as much as dislike and which she ditched in favour of Sylvia.

The new child’s half-brother, Bruce, who had been solid apart in Morton Shand’s rush to consummate the newest love in his life, was barely a toddler.

Making an attempt to throw a discreet veil of modesty over the elopement and swift delivery, Morton Shand and Alys stayed in Scotland for a number of months till they felt it secure to return to London. 

However as soon as once more, the wedding was doomed to failure. The couple staggered on collectively for 4 years however then Alys, barely 30, petitioned for divorce in 1925 on the grounds of her husband’s adultery. 

A month after the decree was granted, Morton Shand married for a 3rd time – just for that relationship to finish and for him to go on and marry his fourth and ultimate spouse.

Alys, whose mom had died in childbirth and whose father handed away when she was little or no, had been introduced up by relations. 

As a younger lady she understandably longed for a household and a house to name her personal, however maybe her dependency on Morton Shand, a person incapable of offering such a factor, proved her undoing.

Sylvia Bunn (pictured) was born in 1920, to Philip Morton Shand, a serial adulterer whose life featured a string of mistresses whom he seduced in a chaotic, disorderly fashion

Sylvia Bunn (pictured) was born in 1920, to Philip Morton Shand, a serial adulterer whose life featured a string of mistresses whom he seduced in a chaotic, disorderly style

Whereas he went on to determine a reputation for himself as a author on topics reminiscent of meals, wine and structure, and befriend the long run Poet Laureate John Betjeman, Alys and their daughter Sylvia had been pressured to depend on charitable handouts from his mother and father. 

This was attainable as a result of his mom was the heiress to a delivery business fortune and in a position to bankroll her newest grandchild and ex-daughter-in-law.

However the cavalier Morton Shand had no time for his youngsters. He barely ever noticed Bruce, although they had been briefly reconciled earlier than his loss of life in 1960. He by no means noticed Sylvia once more.

And so Sylvia’s lonely and peripatetic life together with her mom started.

She had no siblings – her nearest blood relative being Bruce, however she by no means noticed him both.

Throughout her childhood years, main as much as the Second World Warfare, Sylvia and her mom moved between flats in West London’s Maida Vale. 

When Sylvia was 18, Alys took a job as a window dresser in a Kensington retailer to assist pay her daughter’s college charges – for Sylvia had inherited her father’s fierce mind, if not his love.

Finally Alys moved to a flat in Malvern, Worcestershire. By now, Bruce had had a profitable warfare (profitable the Army Cross twice) and had married into the super-rich Cubitt household. 

His spouse, Rosemary, was the granddaughter of Edward VII’s mistress Alice Keppel.

Bruce developed a profession as an upmarket wine service provider with a blue-chip firm known as Block Gray & Block, and divided his time between Kensington and a rustic home close to Lewes in Sussex, the place he embedded himself within the native gentry by becoming a member of the South Down Hunt.

In 1947, Camilla Shand was born – the identical yr that her aunt Sylvia took up a submit instructing German at a technical faculty in Malvern. 

‘Sylvia was a energetic talker, very impartial,’ remembers France-Odile Winter, whose mom was a fellow instructor. 

‘She all the time dressed elegantly with excessive heels, she wore a hat and fur jacket – she was beautiful. Forthright, however very charming.’

Philip Morton Shand (pictured) was an incorrigible but charming womaniser married four times: first to Margot Harrington who gave birth to Camilla's father Bruce in 1917, and secondly to Sylvia's mother with whom he began an affair while Margot was pregnant.

Philip Morton Shand (pictured) was an incorrigible however charming womaniser married 4 instances: first to Margot Harrington who gave delivery to Camilla’s father Bruce in 1917, and secondly to Sylvia’s mom with whom he started an affair whereas Margot was pregnant.

Sylvia turned France-Odile’s godmother. It’s laborious to fathom why there was no romance within the life of somebody fairly so engaging, however Sylvia remained single.

She then took one other instructing job, in Munster, northern Germany, and stayed within the nation to show for the subsequent 20 years.

‘She was wedded to instructing,’ explains David Boorman, a detailed pal in her latter days. ‘Again then, lecturers usually remained single. That was her life.’

A lot of her pupils from Munster stored in contact after they left faculty by way of letters and with visits, and it’s clear that Sylvia was a lot beloved by them.

By the Nineteen Seventies, Alys had moved from Malvern to a flat in a transformed home in Bexhill-on-Sea in Sussex. 

Bruce was dwelling lower than 30 miles away in Plumpton, however there was by no means any contact between the pair, nor with Sylvia.

‘Sylvia by no means felt a part of the household and she or he felt reduce off from them – remoted and forgotten,’ says David Boorman’s spouse Wendy.

‘However it wasn’t one thing she’d speak about. She’d say ‘I’m a part of the household’ – and that was that. 

The very fact she was a part of the Shand household was talked about on quite a few events, however she by no means mentioned, ‘I’m Camilla’s aunt.’ ‘

At about this time, Camilla was being schooled within the methods of turning into a profitable debutante. 

Philip Morton Shand was Camilla's grandfather and he first married Camilla's grandmother before having an affair with Sylvia's mother

Philip Morton Shand was Camilla’s grandfather and he first married Camilla’s grandmother earlier than having an affair with Sylvia’s mom 

When Camilla married Prince Charles at Windsor in 2005 to worldwide headlines, Sylvia sat in her modest Bexhill villa and watched the proceedings on TV - she hadn't been invited

When Camilla married Prince Charles at Windsor in 2005 to worldwide headlines, Sylvia sat in her modest Bexhill villa and watched the proceedings on TV – she hadn’t been invited

How very totally different from her aunt Sylvia, who on the time was earnestly marking the homework of her German college students and counting her pfennigs.

A household pal says: ‘Bruce Shand cannot be accused of blanking Sylvia’s facet of the household. 

‘Because the son of Philip Morton Shand, he’d additionally struggled along with his personal demons. His father ran off and his mom gave him over to his grandparents, so he was successfully orphaned. 

‘Think about dealing with that, and popping out the polished, genial character that he was.

‘Making an attempt to make his manner within the post-war world, there was no time for stray relations, although Sylvia was virtually the identical age. 

‘Regardless, it was powerful on Sylvia – he had his household, she had no one.’

Accordingly, when Camilla achieved her long-held ambition of marrying cavalry officer Andrew Parker Bowles in 1973, Sylvia and her mom weren’t on the visitor checklist of the glittering ceremony on the Guards’ Chapel, Wellington Barracks, close to Buckingham Palace. 

And by the point the key love affair between Camilla and Prince Charles turned public information, Sylvia’s mom had died – by no means having reconciled together with her different household.

Sooner or later, Sylvia returned to Britain from Germany to dwell in Bexhill. Her mom had died within the South Coast resort and there was no one within the city she knew. As soon as once more, she was alone.

However someday, whereas visiting her financial institution, a person smiled at her – courteously, shyly. She was 66, he was 77. It was an autumn romance.

Her suitor was a retired dentist named Norman Bunn – hardly the diploma of person who her high-rolling half-brother, Bruce, now Vice Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex, can be seen mixing with. 

Certainly, with beautiful irony, Camilla’s great-aunt Violet Trefusis, the socialite and lesbian lover of the author Vita Sackville-West, is claimed to have as soon as snubbed a attainable future husband on the grounds that ‘all his buddies are dentists’. However such snobbery wouldn’t have mattered to Sylvia. 

She and Norman married in November 1987, quickly after her 67th birthday, and their marriage gave her profound happiness. 

‘And are you aware,’ she confided delightedly to her pal Wendy Boorman, ‘he kissed me on the steps!’

Camilla and husband Charles at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Birmingham last month

Camilla and husband Charles on the Commonwealth Video games opening ceremony in Birmingham final month

Camilla's family are aware that her father's four-times-married father had other children

Camilla’s household are conscious that her father’s four-times-married father had different youngsters 

Eventually, the chaotic destruction wrought by her father – Camilla’s grandfather – might be forgotten.

Sylvia loved ten years of married life earlier than her husband died aged 88 in 1998. Life was removed from over for her, nonetheless.

With a brand new lease of life, she took up driving – although her progress was erratic, in line with David Boorman. 

‘Twice she drove her automobile via the again of the storage. As a driver, she was fairly diabolical.

‘She acquired pulled up by the police and was made to take one other take a look at in her 70s. When the examiner requested her to do a reverse manoeuvre, she snapped, ‘I do not reverse!’ ‘

All the time a religious Catholic, Sylvia recurrently attended church providers together with her solicitor, Patrick Donaldson. 

And to that small coterie of buddies in and round Bexhill, Sylvia appeared not more than a energetic and weird upper-class relic of a bygone age.

She by no means talked about her Royal connections. Probably the most she would say was that she was ‘part of’ the Shand household. 

Associates deduced from her reticence that maybe she was illegitimate, or for another purpose not accepted one way or the other. They did not delve.

(By an odd coincidence, Sylvia’s mom and her ex-husband Morton Shand’s first spouse, Margot, lived inside three miles of one another on the Sussex coast of their ultimate years. They by no means met, however died inside per week of one another.)

When Camilla married Prince Charles at Windsor in 2005 to worldwide headlines, Sylvia sat in her modest Bexhill villa and watched the proceedings on TV. 

Once more, she hadn’t been invited. Her pal Wendy Boorman says: ‘She by no means mentioned ‘That is my niece who’s going to turn out to be the subsequent Queen of England’, however you’ll be able to solely think about what her emotions had been.’

Clearly, Camilla’s household are conscious that her father’s four-times-married father had different youngsters.

Camilla’s son, Mail on Sunday columnist Tom Parker Bowles, has written of his household historical past. 

Describing his great-grandfather’s ‘much less exalted residence life’, he mentioned: ‘After divorcing my great-grandmother in 1920, he went on to marry Alys Fabre-Tonnerre that very same yr (with whom he had his second baby, Sylvia). 

‘However 5 years later, Alys petitioned for divorce on the grounds of his adultery.’

After a brief spell in a Bexhill nursing residence, Sylvia, the aunt that Camilla by no means met, died on the age of 87. 

She selected to not be buried with the person she’d come to like late in life – Norman Bunn wasn’t Catholic – however together with her mom, Alys. 

Two forgotten girls who’d been cheated of the pleasures of household life had been united on the final.

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