EXCLUSIVE: 'I was raised in a council house... now I sing for The Queen!': Camilla Kerslake reveals extraordinary journey from tough childhood to star as she gets engaged to Chris Robshaw
- Classical singer Camilla Kerslake's parents were so hard up when she was a child sometimes they couldn't afford groceries
- The 29-year-old classically trained soprano said that people often assume she comes from a wealthy background
- But today the singer reveals she actually grew up in a council house and worked weekends in a shoe shop
- She said she remembers a time when her hard working mother and father had to put food back in the supermarket because their bank card was declined
- Camilla, who has just got engaged to England rugby star Chris Robshaw, is immensely proud of the work ethic her parents gave her
- She told MailOnline: 'I grew up on a council house and now I sing for The Queen.'
Camilla Kerslake has revealed for the first time her extraordinary journey from being raised in a council house to singing for The Queen.
The classical singer says there were times when she was growing up that her hard working parents were so broke they couldn't even afford the weekly food shop.
She still recalls the mortified look on her mother's face as they stood at the supermarket checkout and had to put some groceries back.
Camilla, 29, says she has to pinch herself at how her life has transformed as prepares to marry her public school educated prince charming, former England rugby skipper Chris Robshaw.
Speaking exclusively to MailOnline, she said: 'I grew up in a council house and now I sing for The Queen, life is amazing.'
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Happy: Camilla Kerslake, who is engaged to Chris Robshaw, has revealed for the first time her extraordinary journey from being raised in a council house to singing for The Queen.
Engagement: The classically trained singer says there were times when she was growing up that her hard working parents were so broke they couldn't even afford the weekly food shop. Pictured: Camilla and Chris celebrate their engagement at London's Ten Trinity Square club
Camilla, 29, pictured as a little girl, says she has to pinch herself at how her life has transformed as prepares to marry her public school educated rugby skipper Robshaw, 31.
Close: Camilla, pictured as a girl, says she is incredibly proud of her Welsh mother Deborah, pictured, who held down two jobs, working in a garden centre and as an aromatherapist while her father Greg worked in a pie shop when the family moved to New Zealand as a youngster.
Now a Royal favourite, Camilla was born in Dulwich but moved to New Zealand and lived on an estate owned by the local authority until she was nine.
Her Welsh mother Deborah held down two jobs working in a garden centre and as an aromatherapist. Her father, Greg, from New Zealand, worked in a shop making pies.
'When we moved back to Preston years later everyone thought it was hilarious that my dad was Greg the baker.'
She revealed: 'Because I'm a classical singer everyone thinks I must have gone to private school.
'But that couldn't be further from the truth. My parents worked really hard to give me the best start but they struggled financially.
'I ended up getting a scholarship for the Academy of Contemporary Music and people would ask, 'Are your family aristocrats? I went shooting at the weekend, what did you do…?' I told them I worked in Barratts shoes and was in an ABBA tribute band.'
The Brit nominated classical singer, who is recording a Christmas single this week, said that she is so proud of her mother and father for instilling in her a fabulous work ethic, ambition and drive.
Kissing her prince: Camilla says she is happiest when she is at home with her rugby star beau Robshaw, 'bingeing on boxsets or cooking with their affenpincher dog Rico Robshaw runs around looking for scraps.
Pride: Camilla said her parents Deborah and Greg moved to a council house in Devonport, New Zealand when she was a little girl. They moved back to Preston, Lancashire, when she was nine.
Camilla is inspired by her parents work ethic when she was growing up and instilled in her a drive to succeed. She said: 'One of the best things my parents ever did for me was to tell me that just because someone has more money doesn't mean that they are better than you.'
The singer, pictured with her mother Deborah, left, and as a little girl, right, added: I'm proud of my working class roots. It's certainly not something I have ever tried to hide.'
'One of the best things my parents ever did for me was to tell me that just because someone has more money than you doesn't mean that they are better than you. I'm proud of my working class roots. It's certainly not something I have ever tried to hide.'
She went on: 'Growing up I knew nothing of cathedral choirs.
'We didn't have posh friends to tell us about these grants you could get to sing going to the local comprehensive.
'My mum is sixth generation Swansea's Town Hill estate. We had to graft. I don't think my parents could have imagined in their wildest dreams where I am today.
'You don't really know when you're a kid. Your parents shield you from the truth.
'But I never asked for toys from a young age because my parents never had the money for a new Barbie.
'I remember my mum's face when she handed over her card when she didn't know if there was enough money in her account.
'Nine out of ten times it was fine, but then one time when there wasn't enough and you had to put things back and you could never go to that supermarket again.
'You know you mother and you see that look on her face when the card is declined and it never leaves you.'
So are things different now…? 'Oh my God, yes', she said. 'Now I sing in Monaco on boats worth more than the GDP of most countries.
'But I had nothing and I was ok so I always know that no matter what happens I'll be ok.'
Tough childhood: Camilla, pictured with her dog Rico, said: 'Growing up I knew nothing of cathedral choirs. 'We didn't have posh friends to tell us about these grants you could get to sing going to the local comprehensive.'
Drive: Camilla, pictured with her mother Deborah, who trained to become a psychotherapist, said: 'My mum is sixth generation Swansea's Town Hill estate. We had to graft. I don't think my parents could have imagined in their wildest dreams where I am today.'
Camilla spoke as she celebrated her engagement to long-term boyfriend Robshaw, whom she met in a 'Sliding Doors' moment when their eyes locked in a second and they hurriedly exchanged phone numbers at a charity event seven years ago.
In the couple's first joint interview at London's trendy Ten Trinity Square club, she said: 'It was very romantic. He was leaving at the exact time I happen to be walking past and there was a one second opportunity for us to meet.'
Despite the stark contrast between her hand to mouth upbringing and her glittering singing career, Camilla, who got her big break in 2009 when Gary Barlow signed her to his record label, insists she is happiest when she's at home with Chris 'bingeing' on box sets or cooking.
'Because of our jobs we do so many amazing things you never thought you'd get the chance to do.
'But all of that is so exciting and so overwhelming that the times that are most special for me are the really boring times where we are at home.
'Our kitchen is a nice place… because we'll have our music on.. and one of us will be cooking… Chris is my sous chef, so I'll cook and he'll chop and our little dog will be running around hoping some scraps will fall off the table that he can eat - those are our special times.'
Happy couple: In the couple's first joint interview at London's trendy Ten Trinity Square club Camilla described how she met Chris in a 'Sliding Doors' moment when their eyes locked in a second and they hurriedly exchanged phone numbers at a charity event seven years ago.
Of that first meeting, she said: 'It was very romantic. He was leaving at the exact time I happen to be walking past and there was a one second opportunity for us to meet.'
Proposal: Camilla told how Chris whisked her away to Paris where he pretended he was on a work trip - but booked a box at the Palais Garnier and got down on one knee. 'It was very romantic,' she said.
Chris, who eats so much he has a whole chicken to himself when they do a roast dinner, proposed by whisking her off to Paris.
'When I was little I was obsessed with Phantom of the Opera, which is set at the Paris Opera House.
'Chris pretended that he had a work trip to Paris and he said I may as well come. But he'd booked a box at the Palais Garnier and at the interval I was halfway through eating a panini, I turned around and he was down on one knee. It was very romantic.'
Chris, 31, a strapping 16st 6ft 2in flanker, who was born in Redhill, Surrey, and was educated at the independent Cumnor House School, admits that with two left feet, his biggest fear for their big day is the first dance - and treading on his new wife's toes.
'Im worried about dancing, I'm a terrible dancer so that would probably be my biggest concern for the night.
'I don't think I'll be on Strictly any time soon, let's leave it like that.'
Some may say that with a Welsh mother and father from New Zealand, the former England rugby captain is a strange choice of husband, but Camilla says Chris is 'almost perfect' - besides snoring, talking and fidgeting in his sleep.
'I'm a light sleeper and he talks and moves around so much in the night that we've just had to buy a new, massive bed,' she says.
'He'll be snoring and I'll be looking at this man that I love more than life itself and I'm like 'I'm going to have to kill him'.
And what about children after the wedding?
Camilla said: 'At some point we both definitely want kids but not anytime soon.
'But not for a long time. We don't have time when would we do it? It would mean massively scaling back our work.
'When we do have kids we don't want them to be raised by an army of nannies.'
Chris added: 'We are almost too selfish at the moment, we are not ready to give up that time.'