It's the marriage split that's rocked the palace, and left even the most hardened and experienced of royal commentators shocked and lost for words.
But while news revealing the surprise break-up between Tom Parker Bowles and his wife of 12 years Sara has stunned the royal family, it’s the catastrophic effect the split has had on his mum Camilla, 70, that’s caused the most shockwaves.
Quick to release a statement revealing that she and husband Prince Charles, 69, were ‘deeply saddened’ by Tom and Sara’s separation, sources close to the duchess confirm that she is now using the break-up news to re-evaluate her own marriage.
‘Tom and Sara married just a few months after Camilla and Charles, so it’s understandable that it’s really hit home for the duchess,’ says the source. ‘She is incredibly close to Tom and his wife, and is a doting grandmother to their two children. She's absolutely devastated by their split - she's taking it very badly.
'But the truth is just like her own marriage to Charles, there have been problems in Tom and Sara's relationship for some time.
'Now Camilla's looking at her marriage to Charles and wondering if it will follow the same path as her son's.'
Last week it was revealed that Tom had moved out of the family’s London home in recent weeks, leaving Sara, daughter Lola, 10, and son Freddy, seven. While friends of the couple were quick to announce there was ‘no-one else involved’ and that ‘their priority is the children’, other insiders reveal the writing has been on the wall for a while.
‘Tom’s career as a food critic means he travels a lot and they’ve both got reputations for enjoying a party here or there,’ says a source. ‘We believe those things just took their toll.’
Some insiders even believe Tom’s TV career in Australia – starring in both The Hot Plate and Family Food Fight – could have also put their marriage under strain.
‘While Tom was chasing the bright lights of fame in Australia, Sara was at home raising the kids,’ says a source.
During his time in Australia last year, Tom, 43, revealed in an exclusive interview with New Idea that his hectic career – like his mother’s – has an impact on his relationship with Sara.
‘I probably see her less than I did, because she works pretty hard,’ Tom told New Idea. ‘I’ve been doing the job I do for 15 to 17 years and I left uni a long time ago. I’ve always had my own life and done my own thing. She’s very busy and travelling a lot, that’s the only difference.’
But while the palace continues to reel from the shock split – and the ramifications for Charles and Camilla – it seems the next-in-line to the throne is bracing for yet another scandal.
Last week it was revealed that a new tell-all book was set to be published, promising to lift the lid on all the deep dark secrets of Charles and Camilla’s household. Respected UK investigative author Tom Bower wrote the ‘warts and all’ expose, which promises to reveal more explosive Prince Charles secrets than ever before.
Top of the list of shock revelations are Charles’ controversial feelings towards members of his own family, as well as his desperate attempts to win back public favour after Princess Diana’s death.
‘There are a lot of revelations,’ author Tom Bower tells the Daily Mail. ‘I was amazed how much new material there was. It’s got a lot of very, very new, untold information.’
For the full story see this weeks issue of New Idea - out now!