How Queen Camilla's Campaign on Domestic Abuse Inspired Royal Family Friend to Write Her Story

Queen Camilla has worked for domestic abuse charities for years — and has an admirer in Lady Anne Glenconner

Camilla, Queen Consort, gives a speech as she visits the S.T.O.R.M Family Centre
Queen Camilla. Photo: Toby Melville - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Queen Camilla's long-running campaign to counter domestic abuse helped inspire Lady Anne Glenconner to highlight her own painful story.

Glenconner, 90, who is a longtime friend of the royal family and was a coronation maid to the late Queen Elizabeth II, gives a graphic account of the physical abuse she suffered at the hands of her late husband in her second memoir, Whatever Next? Lessons from an Unexpected Life, out on Feb. 21.

Lord Colin Glenconner's vindictive and sadistic behavior was so bad that once he beat her so hard with a walking stick that she lost the hearing in one ear, she recounts.

"I only started writing a few years ago, and I was rather careful in [previous book] Lady in Waiting about what I wrote. I hinted at domestic abuse, I didn't go into it," Lady Anne tells PEOPLE. Now, "partly because of the Queen Consort, who does so much for domestic abuse and putting it in the public eye, I had a talk to my children and said, 'Do you mind if I write it?' "

"We had a great conversation together. They adored their father, but he was exceedingly difficult," she adds.

Glenconner says it "was very therapeutic, actually" to relate the stories — and it has had other benefits.

"Having written it, I have had so many letters. And sad letters too from around the world," she says. "I answer all these letters I get all over the world. I mean, domestic abuse affects all classes."

Lady Anne Glenconner
Lady Anne Glenconner. Lady Anne Glenconner

Lady Anne's three children (her eldest two sons died in the 1990s) were supportive of the decision. "We talked through a lot of things and, in fact, it improved our relationship in a way. We're much more open with each other now," she says. "With children, because they hear things or things happen to them, one wants to protect them — you have to do that. But when people grow up, I think it's great to be able to talk."

She didn't talk about her own story to Queen Camilla, but she has spoken to the Queen Consort about her work for others.

"She's done so much for domestic abuse, and it's been huge, you know, amazing," Lady Anne says.

Glenconner shares a list of a few addresses at the back of the book for people "who perhaps are getting through a difficult time to get in touch with these charities." One is SafeLives, which Queen Camilla supports.

Editorial use only Mandatory Credit: Photo by Ken McKay/ITV/Shutterstock (10482741l) Lady Anne Glenconner 'This Morning' TV show, London, UK - 22 Nov 2019 LADY GLENCONNER: MY LIFE AS LADY-IN-WAITING TO PRINCESS MARGARET The Royal Family is all anyone is talking about right now. We’ve had Princes at war, Christmas cancellations, and Prince Andrew stepping down from Royal duties. On top of all that, on Sunday Netflix series The Crown returned for its third series - giving us another insight into the lives of the Royal family. But what really goes on behind-the-scenes at the Palace? Well, someone who knows better than anyone is Lady Anne Glenconner. She served as Princess Margaret’s lady-in-waiting for three decades, and is now sharing her extraordinary stories in her new memoir. She’s here today to tell us about the glamorous party lifestyle, reveal what really happens on a Royal tour, and why she’s determined to prove that Princess Margaret wasn’t the diva many think she was.
Lady Anne Glenconner. Ken McKay/ITV/Shutterstock

Lady Glenconner has led an often exciting, colorful life, filled with travel and adventures alongside Princess Margaret and the royals, and parties on Mustique, which her husband Colin developed as a playground for the rich, famous and well-connected. Yet, hers was also often tragic life — her eldest son, Charlie, died of hepatitis C, a result of his heroin addiction, while another son, Henry, died in 1990 after contracting AIDS four years earlier.

A third son, Christopher, was severely injured in a motorcycle accident, and Lady Anne nursed him through his coma. He lives close to her in Norfolk with his second wife.

She has two other children — twin daughters Amy and May — who "have shared in all our family tragedies and triumphs," she writes.

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Lady Anne Glenconner - Whatever next? Lessons from an unexpected life book cover
Hachette Books

Lady Glenconner's life as a new author (she has also penned two historic novels) has been found her supremely content.

"Quite frankly, I've never enjoyed myself so much. I feel, I mean, and I think you can tell in my books, we all love Colin. But he was impossible to live with," Lady Anne says. "I did stick it out from all of 54 years, but it was like living on eggshells, you know?

"So now, you know, it's wonderful. I feel relaxed and happy," she says. "Writing these books, becoming an author has been fantastic."

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