As the Queen Prepares for Transition, Camilla Steps Into the Spotlight

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In one of the greatest U-turns of Queen Elizabeth’s historic reign, it has been confirmed that when Prince Charles becomes king, his wife Camilla, will be his Queen Consort

Until now, the palace has maintained that Camilla, who became Duchess of Cornwall instead of the Princess of Wales when they were married in 2005, would be known as Princess Consort when Charles becomes king. 

Just like the title Princess of Wales, Queen Camilla (for it is her legal right to be Queen) was deemed too controversial at the time and there were fears the monarchy might suffer a backlash given Charles and Camilla’s history and the public’s affection for Diana.

But to close observers, there was a clue that change was afoot when the palace removed reference to Camilla being known as Princess Consort from its website in 2018.

On Monday, we learned that around that time Charles and his team “had made up their minds that Camilla should become Queen Consort” and it was a “done deal,” presumably with the Queen’s support. 

As with all these things, timing is everything and this weekend’s announcement timed to coincide with the 70th accession of the Queen’s reign signaled that not only did this have the Queen’s stamp of approval, there will be no debate about it. It proves that at 95, Queen Elizabeth has lost none of her sharpness or her ability to surprise her subjects. 

Having been on doctors’ orders to rest since October following a brief stay in hospital, the Queen has taken a rare back seat. But her decision to make it known that she wants Camilla to be queen means she is making plans for the future as she prepares to celebrate her historic Platinum Jubilee.

Usually, her Majesty marks accession day quietly and in private at Sandringham. Her announcement to the nation on Saturday night came as a surprise and signaled a departure from the norm, and as this Jubilee year progresses, I am told we can expect to see more gestures from the Queen that signal she is preparing for the transition. 

While she used the announcement to reaffirm her vow that she will serve for the rest of her life, thus ending any talk of retirement or abdication, it is clear that the transition and the future is at the forefront of the monarchy’s thinking. This Jubilee will be as much about the next reign as it will be about celebrating the Queen’s remarkable 70 years on the throne. 

According to palace sources, Charles and Camilla will take on a key role in the upcoming Jubilee celebrations, flanking her Majesty at every possible opportunity, along with Prince William and Kate Middleton

While it has been reported that William and Kate will carry out an important tour to the Caribbean to harness support for the monarchy, Charles and Camilla will also be traveling around the Commonwealth, as they did for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012. Back then Camilla was invited to ride alongside the Queen in her carriage because Philip was hospitalized. It was a significant moment, and a clear signal that after years of not accepting Charles’ former mistress, the Queen has grown to respect and admire her. That the Queen should intervene personally and inform the nation that it is her “sincere wish” that her daughter-in-law become Queen Consort highlights just how much she values Camilla and recognizes the important role she will play in the future. 

Her request that Camilla be known as Queen Consort comes just weeks after Buckingham Palace announced in its New Year’s honours list that Camilla has been made a Lady of the Order of the Garter, the greatest accolade the Queen can bestow on a family member. Other royal women, including the Queen Mother, had to wait until their husbands were on the throne before this happened.

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