Diana Memorial: Camilla's Empty Chair

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, is said to be furious at the way Prince Charles' aides have handled the controversy over her absence at Princess Diana's memorial service today.

Camilla plans to jet off to a Mediterranean holiday without her husband next week to let off some steam, British newspapers are reporting.

The debate has left her "humiliated and depressed," according to Britain's Daily Mail.

Camilla will spend the day at her private estate in the British countryside, while her husband and his sons remember Princess Diana in an elaborate London memorial service that will also be attended by Tony Blair, Sir Elton John, and most of the royal family. Diana was killed in a Paris car crash 10 years ago with her companion Dodi al Fayed.

Camilla announced last Sunday she would not be attending the ceremony after representatives of Clarence House, Prince Charles' London household, had initially assured the public and the press she would accompany her husband.

"I am very touched to have been invited by Prince William and Prince Harry to attend the thanksgiving service for their mother, Diana, Princess of Wales," Camilla said in an official statement released through Clarence House on Sunday.

"However, on reflection, I believe my attendance could divert attention from the purpose of the occasion, which is to focus on the life and service of Diana," the statement read.

Reports in the British press say Camilla had little desire to attend the ceremony from the very start, but was persuaded by her husband that, as his wife and stepmother to his sons, she should be at his side.

But a negative public backlash changed her mind, some British newspapers reported. Last week Rosa Monckton, a close friend to Diana, wrote in an article in the British Mail on Sunday that Diana would have been "astonished" at Camilla's presence.

It would be "inappropriate" for Camilla to attend, Monckton wrote.

According to the British Daily Mail, by Sunday afternoon, "Camilla was struggling to hide her distress at the criticism." A close friend apparently described her condition as "tearful" and "traumatized."

According to those same reports, it took the Queen's intervention to let Camilla off the hook.

The Queen "made it clear that she would support Camilla if she decided not to go," a senior royal source told the Daily Mail.

Camilla's decision not to attend today's memorial ceremony is said to have caused the biggest argument in Charles and Camilla's marriage since they wed in 2005.

"Charles is portrayed as rather indecisive but when he makes his mind up about something it is very difficult to change it," a source told the Daily Mail. "He wanted -- no, expected -- his wife to be there."

But, the source continued, "Camilla felt very strongly as if she had been maneuvered into attending against her better judgment."

Yesterday Camilla was photographed picking mushrooms in the forest around Balmoral, the royal Scottish residence, accompanied only by a body guard. Her husband travelled to London overnight.

Accounts differ as to how the Duchess of Cornwall and the Prince of Wales will spend the next few days.

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