The Impressive Military Career Of Camilla Parker Bowles' Ex-Husband

In September 2022, King Charles III ascended the throne following the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II (via The New York Times). And in the days since he took on that new role and new title, his wife, Camilla Parker Bowles, assumed the title of queen consort. This is a very big deal for several reasons, not the least of which is the fact that Charles' great uncle, King Edward VIII, abdicated the throne because he wasn't allowed to marry a divorced woman and still be king. Obviously, the rules changed in the 70 intervening years, and Queen Elizabeth herself issued a statement about her that basically said she approved, and the British public should as well.

Lost in the shuffle of the narrative surrounding the new queen consort is her ex-husband and the father of her children, Andrew Parker Bowles. A British aristocrat through and through, he did what a lot of British gentlemen do and served with distinction in the military, even winning awards for valor from Queen Elizabeth herself.

Up Through The Ranks

Andrew Parker Bowles' childhood was not atypical for a well-heeled lad born into the British aristocracy. According to the Duchess of Cornwall website, his christening announcement made the society pages of The Times, and his family was reportedly friends with the Mountbatten-Windsors (per BBC News). After being educated in Britain's toniest private schools, he enrolled in the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and left a few years later with his officer's commission.

Much of his military career was in the service of, or adjacent to, the care and maintenance of the British Army's various animals, horses in particular. According to the Animals In War Memorial Fund, he commanded a mounted cavalry for three decades and later became the director of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps. As such, he was also awarded various civilian honors related to veterinary care.

When he retired from the British Army in 1994, he did so with the rank of Brigadier, roughly equivalent to Brigadier General in the U.S. (via The Gazette).

Valor In Rhodesia And London

In addition to the distinctions he earned both within the military and from civilian organizations, Andrew Parker Bowles was honored twice by Queen Elizabeth II. 

Back in the late 1970s, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) was transitioning from a dictatorship to a democracy, and not without some growing pains (per "The Army and Politics in Zimbabwe: Mujuru, the Liberation Fighter and Kingmaker"). Parker Bowles was serving there in a military capacity at the time, although how much danger he was exposed to, if any, remains uncertain. Regardless, for this service, the queen bestowed upon him the Queen's Commendation for Bravery, according to his profile at Harcourt Developments. Similarly, Parker Bowles was serving in London when terrorists from the Provisional Irish Republican Army bombed Hyde Park and Regent's Park. As the Daily Mail reports, he would later describe the day as one of the saddest moments of his life, attending to the victims after the bomb deployed.