London (AFP) – Seven decades later, the United Kingdom has a new woman to call its queen.
Charles’ wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, will be known as Queen Consort – a title that came with Queen Elizabeth II’s blessing after years of feud, dating back to the days before her marriage to Prince Charles.
It wasn’t always a given that 75-year-old Camilla would take the title, even though it doesn’t confer upon her any of the powers of a king.
While a king’s wife is traditionally crowned as queen, the question of what title Camilla would hold when Charles became king has been a difficult question for many years. It was out of sensitivity about her status as a second wife – and the wave of grief that swept Britain after the death of his ex-wife, Princess Diana, in a car accident in 1997.
Charles and the royal family have moved carefully on the matter, bearing in mind lingering public perceptions of Camilla as the “third person” who spoiled the marriage between Charles and his beloved princess.
But for decades, Camilla has captured large parts of the British public with her discretion, down-to-earth personality and loyalty to her husband.
When Camilla and Charles married in a low-key civil ceremony in 2005, she was actually the new Princess of Wales – Diana’s nickname – but styled herself the Duchess of Cornwall instead.
Palace officials have said for years that Camilla “intended” to be known as “Princess Consort” – rather than the traditional “Queen Consort” – when Charles ascended the throne.
There is no precedent for the title of Princess Consort, which was reportedly suggested by royal officials. The title similar to Prince Consort was used only once – for Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria, who ruled from 1837 to 1901.
In a 2010 interview with NBC, Charles was asked if Camilla would become “Queen of England, if and when she would become the monarch.” He hesitated, answering, “That, well…we’ll see, shall we? That could be.”
The question was resolved when Elizabeth announced that she wanted Camilla to be known as Queen Consort after her son became king. It was an acknowledgment formally that the royal family accepted Camilla as a respected senior member, and was widely seen as a move by Elizabeth to pave a smooth transition into Charles’ reign.
“When my son Charles becomes king at the height of time, I know you will give him and his wife Camilla the same support you have given me; Elizabeth said in February 2022, when you celebrated the seventieth anniversary of her reign.”
Charles said he and Camilla were “deeply aware of this honor”.
“As we have endeavored together to serve and support Her Majesty the Queen and the people of our communities, my dear wife has been my unwavering support throughout,” he said.
Queen Elizabeth was the newest wife of King George VI in British history, known in later years as the Queen Mother after her daughter became queen in 1952.
By custom, Camilla will be anointed at Charles’ coronation, although this can be omitted.
Born on July 17, 1947, Camilla Rosemary Shand belongs to an aristocracy with long and close ties to Britain’s royal family. Her great-grandmother, Alice Kebble, was a romantic partner of King Edward VII.
She met Charles at a polo match in 1970 when she was 23 and he was considered the most eligible bachelor in Britain. The two immediately became close, and by the end of 1972, Charles was in love. But the romance was interrupted by his eight-month naval service.
In his absence, Camilla married her longtime boyfriend, Army Officer Andrew Parker Bowles, in 1973. The couple separated in 1995, shortly after Charles gave an explosive TV interview in which he admitted to an affair with Camilla. Charles and Diana divorced the following year.
Charles and Camilla waited another nine years, and were married in 2005 in a private ceremony at Guildhall in Windsor.
Since then, Camilla has taken on dozens of royal duties. She is a patron or president of more than 90 charities, and has taken a particular interest in working on animals, promoting literacy and empowering women. She has also found her voice as a public speaker, earning respect by campaigning on difficult issues such as sexual violence against women and domestic violence.
In 2021, she delivered what many described as her landmark speech, urging “the men in our lives” to engage in women’s rights and expressing sympathy for the families of the women who were murdered.
In the same year, Buckingham Palace emphasized Camilla’s role as a dignitary royal by making her a Dame Royal of the highest honor of the Mantle, Britain’s highest equestrian rank.