Relationships are always interesting and a little occluded as it’s not possible to ‘see into’ the vagaries, joys and realities of any relationship. However, looking just the personality types, we can see at least some interesting dynamics as Charles, it tends to be agreed upon, is an ISFJ, whilst Camilla is recorded as being an ESTP. So, what can we conclude if we examine the relationships through this lens?
As an ISFJ Charles is rather fussy about, well everything, bath temperature, pillows, food, you name it, as is recounted often in the press and elsewhere, he is meticulous and finicky, and as Jung himself would say: “His soup will always have a hair in it.” The difference between him and the more ‘last minute’ Camilla is explained superbly in Tina Brown’s book, ‘The Palace Papers,’ “The prince’s routine was relentless. He never ate lunch and breakfasted on the same birdseed and peeled fruit every morning. Punctuality had never been Camilla’s strong suit, but Charles expected her to be ready for engagements at his own regimented pace. When she asked where they were going, he would snap, ‘haven’t you read the brief?’” As with most personalities, we prefer people who are like us, as we understand them, but we actually need people who are not like us to provide that balance and so in that sense it is probably true that Camilla’s get on with attitude was good for Charles. As Camilla recounted when speaking about her childhood: “…that’s just how we were brought up, never complain and never explain, don’t whinge just get on with it.”
Charles is a more thoughtful and gentle soul, idealistic and concerned with ‘what might be’ whereas Camilla is more concerned with ‘what is,’ jumping in and making the best of it, savouring and enjoying the ‘now’ rather than spending endless time pondering what might be or, worse still, what might have been. Tina Brown speaks of Camilla’s childhood: “She loved the whole lusty, gutsy world of fox hunting with the South Down, the mad chase through the open East Sussex downland, hearty hunting teas afterwards in the homes of tally-ho friends.”
Camilla will bring a sense of perspective and realpolitik to bear into Charles’ more paranoid world, where danger and criticism can lurk around every corner. Tina Brown again recounts a situation when Peter Mandelson gave Charles some feedback and his reaction, and Camilla’s counter-reaction perfectly sum up the two personalities in one anecdote: “Over time, Charles’ self-pitying paranoia about never being appreciated was a serious bore to all. He moaned endlessly about being undervalued by his mother, the nation and the press.” Tina Brown recounts that when Peter Mandelson told Charles that ministers find him “rather glum and dispirited,” his response was “pure panic.” Not being used to hearing the truth he, “asked Camilla, ‘is that true, is that true?’ Camilla crisply replied: ‘I don’t think any of us can cope with you asking that question over and over again for the next month.” So, probably true then.
It is often said that “opposites attract,” and in some cases that may be the case, in others it is definitely not, just see couples wearing matching jumpers! However, it is probably true to say that some opposing personality characteristics are helpful to bring that sense of balance and perspective that we all need.
Camilla, being an ESTP, has a strength of character, an ability to get on with it, whatever “it” is and whatever the circumstances, as can be seen with all the flack she took after Princess Diana’s death, which she bore with real dignity and fortitude, and incredibly, with silence. Charles is more shy, cautious and will over-think and perhaps having a partner in life who is more apt to say, ‘let’s just do it anyway, hang the consequences,’ might be very good for him, and allow him to relax a little more. They are both duty-driven, but this is driven from opposite ends and that is probably why it works so well, according to the reports from their friends.
Quotes where annotated are from ‘The Palace Papers,’ by Tina Brown, Century Press