A month ago I wrote a post about Edward VII and Alexandra of Denmark where I pointed out similarities between the two of them and the current Prince of Wales and his late ex-wife, Diana. There was one bizarre coincidence, however, which I forgot to highlight: one of Edward VII’s best-known mistresses was Alice Keppel, who happens to be the great-grandmother of none other than Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. Given the similarities between Diana and Queen Alexandra, and Camilla’s direct descent from Mrs. Keppel, the whole thing does feel a bit like a historical wink.
This is surprisingly apropos of the ongoing royal visit to Italy because today Camilla brought up her regret that her mother sold a villa in Florence once owned by Alice and Camilla has girlhood memories of playing there. She revealed to reporters covering the tour that she hoped to buy it back someday and leave it to her grandchildren.
“It’s in private hands but is all boarded up. It’s such a tragedy. I feel like I should start a campaign to buy it back up. It was a magnificent place.”
Alice and her husband moved to Italy in 1925 and purchased Villa dell’ Ombrellino just outside of Florence, however they would eventually return to Britain in 1940 due to World War II. The villa, however, was notable on its own, having once been the home of Galileo and the poet, Ugo Foscolo. After the war ended the couple returned and it was there at Alice died in 1947, the same year Camilla was born.
Camilla was able to view a plaque commemorating Alice and the Keppel family. Per the Daily Mail:
Camilla explained later that her great-grandparents had bought the beautiful property in the city – as a child she remembers its glorious gardens being filled with statues – while her sister was educated in Florence for several years.
Rvd Lister admitted, much to Camilla’s surprise, that her family had given St Mark’s a substantial donation out of the sale of the house.
‘Oh really,’ she said archly and laughed, ‘perhaps you should help us.’ Afterwards Rvd Lister said: ‘It was a very personal visit for the Duchess because of the links with her family.
‘She did say she would use any excuse to come back to Florence.’
Today, the Duchess also made a quick trip the famous Uffizi Gallery, and before that met with female victims of human trafficking, which is in line with her commitment to women’s charities, particularly efforts that support victims of sexual and domestic abuse.
Charles, meanwhile, was in Amatrice meeting with victims of the earthquake there and viewing the remaining wreckage. He walked around the now-empty “red zone” wearing a hard hat, remarking that, “It’s a scene of terrifying devastation.”
He spoke with openly emotional victims, as well as the city’s mayor, and said, “The people in Britain mind very much what’s happened to you all here.” The earthquake in question occurred last August and killed 297 people, including three Britons.
Tomorrow the couple return to Florence where Charles is due to be named Renaissance Man of the Year.