Camilla carves new role for herself with speech
(Filed: 11/05/2002)

CAMILLA PARKER BOWLES has carved a new role for herself on the public stage by delivering a moving account to an international conference of her mother's agonising death from the crippling bone disease osteoporosis.

She used her first public speech to spell out her mother's suffering from the debilitating condition, which afflicts one in three women over 50 in the UK. Mrs Parker Bowles, 54, who is president of the National Osteoporosis Society, also threw down the guantlet to the Government and health service to spend more money tackling the devastating disease.

In a speech written by herself and her father, Major Bruce Shand, she told delegates at the summit in Lisbon, Portugal, of the final days of her mother Rosalind Shand, who died aged 72 in 1994.

She said: "We watched in horror as she quite literally shrank before our eyes. She lost about eight inches in height and became so bent that she was unable to digest her food properly, leaving her with no appetite at all. In her latter years, she could not breathe without oxygen or even totter round her beloved garden on her zimmerframe."

Mrs Parker Bowles's address to the osteoporosis conference signalled a step towards defining her as a public figure in her own right, away from the shadow of the Prince of Wales. Wearing a powder blue suit, pearl earrings and pale pink lipstick, she sat next to Queen Rania of Jordan, who was hosting the event, and other high-profile women at the roundtable meeting of women organised by the International Osteoporosis Foundation.

Mrs Parker Bowles, who also lost her grandmother Sonia, 88, to the condition, told the conference that if more NHS money was spent on early diagnosis, it could prevent "the suffering of my mother and grandmother and thousands of people worldwide."