Queen Consort Camilla has hosted a reception at Buckingham Palace with guests including Spice Girl Mel B, Queen Rania of Jordan and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark.
Camilla, 75, held the event in London today to raise awareness of violence against women and girls, as part of the United Nations’ 16 days of activism against gender-based violence.
The reception was attended by around 300 people including survivors and their families, as well as famous faces including television presenter Lorraine Kelly, reality TV star Zara McDermott as well as Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska.
Queen Consort Camilla has hosted a reception at Buckingham Palace with guests including Spice Girl Mel B, Queen Rania of Jordan and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark. Pictured L-R: Sophie Wessex, Queen Mathilde of Belgium, Camilla, Queen Rania of Jordan, Princess Mary of Denmark, Fatima Bio, first lady of Sierra Leone, Olena Volodymyrivna Zelenska, first lady of Ukraine
Camilla, 75, held the event in London today to raise awareness of violence against women and girls, as part of the United Nations’ 16 days of activism against gender-based violence. Pictured, the royal with Mel B (left) and Zara McDermott (right)
Camilla – who made a powerful speech at the event – spoke with Home Secretary Suella Braverman and Health Secretary Steve Barclay in the white drawing room of the palace.
IN FULL: SPEECH BY THE QUEEN CONSORT
‘Your Majesties, Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Buckingham Palace as we gather on the fifth of the “16 days of activism against gender-based violence”.
These 16 days mark the UN’s annual campaign that runs from 25th November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10th December, Human Rights Day. Throughout the world, individuals and organisations are coming together to call for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls. Why?
Because over a period of 16 days, worldwide, more than 2,000 women will be killed by a partner or a member of their own family. Because, in England and Wales alone, during that same period, police will record that more than 3,000 women have been raped. And because up to 1 in 3 women across the globe will endure domestic violence in the course of their lifetime. Behind every one of these statistics lie individual stories of human suffering and heartbreak.
We are uniting today to confront, rightly, what has rightly been called a global pandemic of violence against women. Faced with such challenges, it can be hard to know what practical steps we can take to even begin to make a difference.
Over the years, in my previous role, I had the privilege of meeting many survivors of rape and domestic abuse; and of sharing in the sorrow of people who had lost family members to violence. And again and again, I heard that two of the most powerful ways in which to help were to remember and to listen.
We remember those women who have lost their lives at the hands of a stranger, or of the person who should have loved them best. In so doing, we refuse to be desensitised by cold facts and figures and we resolve to keep the names and the memories of these women alive. We remember Brenda Blainey, Mariam Kamara, Lucy Powell, Samantha Drummonds, Yasmin Begum, Sally Turner, Hina Bashir, Jillu Nash and her 12-year-old daughter Louise, to name but a very few of those who have been killed this year alone. And we remember – because we cannot forget – all the other women and girls who died in similarly horrific circumstances.
These women, tragically, can no longer speak for themselves. But we listen to those who can. I have learnt from my conversations with these brave survivors that what they want, above all, is to be listened to and believed, to prevent the same thing happening to others. They know there is power in their stories and that, in the telling, they move from being the victims of their histories to the authors of their own futures.
I have heard countless examples of the ways in which victims have become victors, using their experiences to hold out a hand to help others escape abuse. One such person, Vicky, left a violent relationship and her ex-partner was sent to prison. Knowing what it was like to live in permanent fear, she started working for the police, supporting victims and witnesses of crime. Today, she is an Independent Domestic Violence Adviser and says of herself, “There is life after abuse. I am evidence of that”.
Ladies and gentlemen, your vital work is, in the same way, evidence that there is life after abuse. You are also evidence that we can have hope as we head towards our goal of ending violence against women and girls. Armed with that hope, let us press on. Let us not lose this precious opportunity to speak up and to galvanise action that will see the end of these heinous crimes forever. With determination and courage, we will succeed. Thank you.’
Dressed in her signature leopard print, former Spice Girl Melanie Brown, who was made an MBE for her work with domestic violence charity Women’s Aid, was seen chatting to Camilla, who opted to wear an elegant white frock.
The Queen Consort also spoke to TV personality Zara McDermott – who has spoken previously of her efforts to end the scourge of ‘revenge porn’.
Camilla said in her speech that ‘we are uniting today to confront, rightly, what has rightly been called a global pandemic of violence against women.’
She added: ‘Over the years, in my previous role, I had the privilege of meeting many survivors of rape and domestic abuse; and of sharing in the sorrow of people who had lost family members to violence.
‘And again and again, I heard that two of the most powerful ways in which to help were to remember and to listen.’
The royal continued: ‘We remember those women who have lost their lives at the hands of a stranger, or of the person who should have loved them best.
‘In so doing, we refuse to be desensitised by cold facts and figures and we resolve to keep the names and the memories of these women alive.
‘We remember Brenda Blainey, Mariam Kamara, Lucy Powell, Samantha Drummonds, Yasmin Begum, Sally Turner, Hina Bashir, Jillu Nash and her 12-year-old daughter Louise, to name but a very few of those who have been killed this year alone.
‘And we remember – because we cannot forget – all the other women and girls who died in similarly horrific circumstances.
‘These women, tragically, can no longer speak for themselves. But we listen to those who can.
‘I have learnt from my conversations with these brave survivors that what they want, above all, is to be listened to and believed, to prevent the same thing happening to others.
‘They know there is power in their stories and that, in the telling, they move from being the victims of their histories to the authors of their own futures.’
Meanwhile, Ms Zelenska said it ‘means a lot’ to have been invited to the palace event.
Speaking through a translator, she said it is important that the democratic world unites in the face of violence against women and girls. She said many rapes had been committed since the invasion of Ukraine.
‘It means a lot to be here,’ Ms Zelenska said. ‘We now face a huge amount of rapes of Ukrainian women and children by Russian soldiers. This afternoon I will have the honour to speak in front of the Parliament of the UK. The youngest victim of rape (in Ukraine) is four and eldest is 85.
‘When the efforts of the democratic world unite to combat challenges like this, it always gives hope that we will win.’
Elsewhere, Mel B was full of praise for Camilla and told the Mail afterwards: ‘She said to me “thank you for all the work you are doing to highlight the issue” and I said “no thank you for all the awareness you’ve been bringing”. She is brilliant.
‘It may be an epidemic but it is such a taboo topic. People don’t know how to talk about it. She is helping us to piece together how to share awareness. There’s such an amazing buzz here, so many incredible women. The fact that she is willing to take such a big step forward and get everyone here together is amazing.’
One of the first women the Queen Consort spoke to was women’s safety campaigner Mina Smallman, whose daughters Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman were murdered in a London park and pictures of their bodies shared by the officers who were meant to be guarding them.
‘What was so lovely is that she immediately knew my story and wanted to talk to me about it. Her response was very genuine. She was so engaged and told me to never stop fighting and never to give up,’ she said.
‘It meant a lot to me as I know my girls would say the same thing to me too if they could. If I wasn’t, they would say “mum, this is broken”. The Queen Consort is such a champion for us.’
The reception was attended by around 300 people including survivors and their families, as well as famous faces including television presenter Lorraine Kelly, reality TV star Zara McDermott as well as Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska. Pictured L-R: Pictured L-R: Sophie Wessex, Queen Mathilde of Belgium, Camilla, Queen Rania of Jordan, Princess Mary of Denmark, Fatima Bio, first lady of Sierra Leone, Olena Volodymyrivna Zelenska, first lady of Ukraine
Camilla made her way around as many of her 300 guests as possible, which included three former Prime Ministers wives: Carrie Johnson, Sarah Brown and Cherie Blair.
She also spoke to the sister of primary school teacher, Sabina Nassa, murdered by a sex attacker, as well as politicians and charities working in the area representatives from SafeLives, Women’s Aid and Refuge.
Queen Rania was heard asking the Queen Consort how she was today, after the pair met on Monday privately. A royal aide explained that she was suffering from a ‘seasonal cold’.
Who were the women named by the Queen Consort?
Brenda Blainey, 88
Pensioner Brenda Blainey was found dead in a house in Thornton Dale, North Yorkshire, on 5 January this year.
Shahin Darvish-Narenjbon, 33, from Leeds, was charged with her murder and appeared in court on 11 January.
Mariam Kamara , 46
Mariam Kamara was found dead in her house in Brixton, south London, at the beginning of this year. Her husband Amidu Kamara, 47, was charged with stabbing her to death and setting fire to the house.
Ms Kamara’s charred remains were found after firefighters were called to put out a blaze centred in the bedroom on January 24.
Lucy Powell, 21
Mother-of-two Lucy Powell was found dead in her home in Birmingham in January. West Midlands Police confirmed her boyfriend Gregory Duhamel, 47, had smothered her to death before hanging himself.
After her death, Lucy’s family paid tribute to her, releasing a statement that read: ‘Lucy was a kind, caring beautiful person inside and out and always put a smile on everyone’s face.’
Samantha Drummonds, 27
Samantha Drummonds was found dead at a house in Bermondsey, south London, in June.
Her boyfriend, Joshua Jacques, pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Dolet Hill, 64; her husband, Denton Burke, 58; their daughter Tanysha Ofori-Akuffo, 45; and granddaughter Samantha. He denied murder.
During the hearing at the Old Bailey in September, the prosecution suggested Jacques’s pleas would not be accepted and it was likely the case would go to trial.
Yasmin Begum, 40
Yasmin was found with stab wounds at a house in Bethnal Green, east London, on 24 March.
Quyum Miah, 40, from Homerton, was charged with Yasmin’s murder, as well as burglary and two counts of fraud by false representation.
He pleaded guilty to fraud but denied burglary and murder. He is due to stand trial next month.
Sally Turner, 50
Sally Turner, a grandmother, was found dead at a house in Durham in June, after sustaining stab wounds.
Harry Turner, 53, was charged with her murder. When he appeared in court three days later, he entered no plea.
Preliminary trial dates were set for October, November and December.
Hina Bashir, 21
Hina Bashir, a student from Pakistan who was studying at Queen Mary University in London, was reported missing on 14 July after she had not been seen for three days.
On July 17, her body was found inside a large suitcase dumped in a ditch in Folkes Lane, Upminster, east London.
Muhammad Arslan, 26, was charged with her murder but pleaded not guilty. He is due to stand trial next year.
Jillu Nash, 44, and her 12-year-old daughter Louise
Jillu and her daughter Louise were found dead at their home in Great Waldingfield, Suffolk, on September 8.
Post-mortem examinations confirmed Louise had died from a fatal stab wound in her abdomen, while Jillu was killed by ‘pressure on the neck’.
Jillu’s husband and Louise’s father Peter Nash, 46, was charged with their murder.
He did not enter a plea and will stand trial next year.
Rachel Williams was shot and left for dead by her abusive ex-husband. Tragically her 16-year-old son, Jack, later took his own life.
Camilla has publicly praised her work as a campaigner against domestic abuse and yesterday Miss William’s returned the compliment.
Queen Mathilde of Belgium, the First Lady of Sierra Leone, as well as the Countess of Wessex , and former prime minister Boris Johnson’s wife Carrie and his sister Rachel Johnson were also present. Pictured, the royal with Mel B
The guests also included politicians and charity representatives from SafeLives, Women’s Aid and Refuge. Pictured L-R: Sophie Wessex, Queen Mathilde of Belgium, Camilla, Queen Rania of Jordan, Princess Mary of Denmark, Fatima Bio, first lady of Sierra Leone, Olena Volodymyrivna Zelenska, first lady of Ukraine
‘I had been worried that when she became Queen that she wouldn’t be able to continue with this work. But the fact that she has got us all here today shows us how committed she is,’ she said.
‘I absolutely love her, she is amazing and what she has done for us as an advocate has already been incredible. I am sure she can achieve even more as Queen Consort.’
Camilla has worked to highlight organisations supporting victims of rape, sexual assault and domestic violence for over ten years, undertaking numerous visits to learn more about the issues, meet survivors, and highlight the invaluable contribution made by people and organisations working in this area. She gave her first interview on the subject to the Daily Mail.
Her Majesty also created her ‘Washbags Project’, where a washbag of toiletries is provided free of charge to those who have undergone a forensic examination at Sexual Assault Referral Centres.
Last month, in what could be seen as an indication of how important the issue is to Camilla, she used her first solo engagement in her new royal title to meet domestic abuse workers at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.
Yesterday, Camilla hosted Queen Rania and Princess Mary at Clarence House ahead of the reception (pictured together)
All of Camilla’s Queen’s companions – who were announced at the weekend – appeared publicly with her for the first time at the reception.
Buckingham Palace has said the 75-year-old will have six Queen’s companions, not traditional ladies-in-waiting, who are all trusted friends and will support her as she carries out her key official and state duties.
Yesterday, Camilla hosted Queen Rania and Princess Mary at Clarence House ahead of the reception.
Camilla looked effortlessly elegant in a blue dress when appearing in a photograph alongside the two other royal ladies.
Appearing equally sophisticated, Rania, 52, opted for a teal frock with gem encrusted cuffs and matching heels, while Australian-born Mary, 50, looked picture perfect in a monochrome check skirt, paired with a black blouse.
The photograph of Rania, Camilla and Mary, who is married to the heir to the Danish throne Crown Prince of Denmark Frederik, was shared to Instagram by the Queen of Jordan.
‘A lovely afternoon with Her Majesty Queen Consort Camilla and Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary of Denmark,’ Rania’s caption read.
The new ‘Head Girls’! The 6 friends Queen Consort Camilla will rely on as she ditches ‘ladies-in-waiting’ role – including the mother of the friend who introduced Harry and Meghan
As the Queen Consort announces her ‘Queen’s Companions’, she has signalled a new age of the Royal Family after ditching the ‘Ladies in Waiting’ title.
During the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, the late monarch and her sister Princess Margaret were accompanied by their ladies-in-waiting, affectionately known as ‘Head Girls; on royal tours and official duties as the women held combined roles of companion, adviser and secretary.
However, indicating a break from tradition, Queen Consort Camilla, 75, will instead enlist six confidantes as her companions, as announced by Buckingham Palace.
Last night the Palace named the Queen’s Companions as Sarah Troughton, Jane von Westenholz, Fiona the Marchioness of Lansdowne, an interior designer, Lady Katharine Brooke and Baroness Carlyn Chisholm, a Conservative peer. The sixth is Camilla’s close friend Lady Sarah Keswick. All have been loyal to Camilla.
A Palace source said they will receive a nominal fee to cover their expenses in much the same way as ladies-in-waiting.
But who are the Queen Consort’s new companions and how will she rely on them day-to-day? FEMAIL takes a closer look at Camilla’s nearest and dearest.
Sarah Troughton, 69 (pictured during an appearance on Good Morning Britain) has been Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire since 2012
Sarah Troughton, 69, has been Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire since 2012, and is the first woman ever to have held the position since it was created in the 16th century.
Sarah is the second cousin of the King as her grandfather was the brother of Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.
Sarah has experience as a lady-in-waiting for Katharine, Duchess of Kent, so she is set to be a helpful friend and confidante for the Queen Consort – although of course, she will hold a different title for Camilla.
The mother-of-three is married to Peter Troughton, who is a trustee of the Royal Collection and also a pro-chancellor at Bath University.
Sarah herself is a trustee of the Community Foundation for Wiltshire and Swindon, where she lives.
Since assuming the role of Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire, Sarah’s duties have included overseeing the arrangements for royal visits to Wiltshire by members of the Royal Family.
She also represents the monarch and presents awards and medals on his behalf, and liaises with the Wiltshire units of the Armed Forces.
Lady Sarah Keswick
Lady Sarah Keswick (pictured sitting next to the Queen Consort in the Royal Box on Centre Court at Wimbledon in 2011) is married to former Arsenal Chairman Chips Keswick
Lady Sarah Keswick is another close friend of the Queen Consort and King Charles, along with her husband, Sir John Chippendale ‘Chips’ Lindley Keswick.
From 2013 until his retirement in 2020, 82-year-old Chips was chairman of Arsenal Football Club.
Lady Sarah appears to be a sports fan herself, and was spotted at Wimbledon with the Queen Consort in June 2011.
The pair sat in the royal box to get ready for a day of action on Centre Court, while the late TV legend Bruce Forsyth appeared to join them.
The mother-of-three shares three sons, David, Tobias and Adam, with Chips.
Lady Sarah is the daughter of former Conservative MP and 16th Earl of Dalhousie Simon Ramsay.
During his five years in Parliament from 1945 until 1950, when he assumed the title of Earl of Dalhousie from his late brother, Simon did a stint as Conservative whip.
Baroness Carlyn Chisholm of Owlpen (pictured at Royal Ascot in 2021) has served as a Conservative life peer in the House of Lords since 2014 but has resigned the Tory whip after being appointed Queen’s Companion
Baroness Chisholm of Owlpen, 70, is a crossbench life peer in the House of Lords.
However, until she was announced one of the Queen Consort’s Companions, she sat in the House as a Conservative peer.
Baroness Chisholm resigned the Conservative whip in order to hold the position in the Queen Consort’s most relied upon circle.
She was first appointed to the House of Lords in 2014 when David Cameron was prime minister. Since then she has seen four more prime ministers enter Downing Street.
Before entering politics, Baroness Chisholm, from Sussex, worked as a nurse. She is also a mother of three and has four grandchildren.
Fiona Marchioness of Lansdowne
Lady Lansdowne (pictured with her husband Charlie at their home, Bowood House) revealed last year she lives with her three dogs and spends her time looking after the house and grounds
Lady Lansdowne is a professional interior designer and has had her own studio, Fiona Shelburne, for more than three decades.
She currently lives at Bowood House in Wiltshire with her husband Charlie, the 9th Marquis.
Last year, she opened up her house to The English Home in an interview where she revealed she and Charlie lived with their three dogs, Tinker, Tulip and Maud.
Lady Lansdowne also explained she and her husband were custodians for the house, which is open to visits from the public, and admitted it was a ‘big responsibility’ to take care of the home.
Despite having lots of visitors from the public, she said she and her husband had their own ‘sanctuary’ in their private quarters.
She revealed she and her husband have a picnic in their woodland garden every Sunday without fail, even if it’s raining outside.
‘We have our supper here on a table by the fire. We don’t have a huge, “state-of-the-art” kitchen but I love my Aga and love to cook,’ she said.
Lady Katherine Brooke
Lady Katherine Brook (pictured at a garden party in 2013) is the daughter of Lady Susan Hussey, who served as Queen Elizabeth II’s lady-in-waiting for more than 60 years
Lady Katherine Brooke has also been a close friend of Queen Consort Camilla and King Charles for several years.
She is also expected to have plenty of knowledge about her new role as Queen’s Companion, as the daughter of a former lady-in-waiting.
Lady Katherine Brooke’s mother is Lady Susan Hussey, who served as Queen Elizabeth II’s lady-in-waiting for more than 60 years.
Royal Central reported the new Queen’s Companion will join her mother in Buckingham Palace, as Lady Susan Hussey has been retained by the King as a Lady of the Household.
Jane von Westenholz
Jane von Westenholz (pictured with her husband Piers and daughter Violet at the V&A Museum in 2006) is one of the Queen’s Companions
Jane von Westenholz is a long time friend of the Queen Consort and King Charles.
She and her husband Piers are the parents of Violet von Westenholz, who introduced Prince Harry to Meghan Markle when the pair started dating.
Violet is a close childhood friend of Harry’s and the pair often spent time together as children due to their parents’ close friendship.
At the time of introducing the pair, Violet was working in communications for Ralph Lauren in London and met Meghan Markle through her job, E! reports.