King Charles and Queen Camilla: Inside the historic decision

The Queen’s official endorsement of the next leaders of the monarchy cements their place in history after a long, winding path to the throne.
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Over the past 70 years, Queen Elizabeth II has fully earned the respect and trust of the British people.

But on the eve of her historic Platinum Jubilee celebrations, instead of making it all about her (as she had every right to!) the Queen has once again demonstrated her astute and forward-thinking leadership skills.

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Ahead of the occasion, the 95-year-old issued a groundbreaking statement to officially endorse Prince Charles, along with his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, as the future of the monarchy.

Furthermore, she addressed the ongoing question over Camilla’s title, decreeing her the future Queen Consort.

“And for Camilla, the journey from being the third person in a marriage to queen-in-waiting is complete.” (Credit: Getty)

“And when, in the fullness of time, my son Charles becomes King, I know you will give him and his wife Camilla the same support that you have given me; and it is my sincere wish that, when that time comes, Camilla will be known as Queen Consort as she continues her own loyal service,” her succession statement read in part.

The surprise announcement is a complete about-face from the palace’s previous sentiment about Camilla’s future title.

Concerns about Camilla’s suitability to be styled as “Queen” have dogged her since she married Charles in 2005, even though she’s technically entitled to the title once Charles is crowned!

The hesitation resulted from a “bad taste in the mouth” about Camilla, 74, and her perceived involvement in the eventual breakdown of Prince Charles’s marriage to Princess Diana. This poor public persona as “the other woman” was further compounded following Diana’s sudden death in 1997.

Camilla’s new title was “a proper endorsement from the top”. (Credit: Getty)

When Charles and Camilla married eight years later, it was a strategic and respectful decision to style her as the Duchess of Cornwall, rather than Princess of Wales.

From that point forward, royal aides insisted Camilla “intended” to be one day known as “Princess Consort” – a line that was reconfirmed as recently as 2020.

However, there have been subtle indicators that the tide had turned on Camilla’s title. One inkling was the quiet removal of a section on Prince Charles’s website outlining Camilla’s future title as Princess Consort.

Now the Queen’s latest statement has firmly drawn a line in the sand. So why has the royal family decided to make this announcement now? After all, Queen Elizabeth has made it abundantly clear she intends to serve as monarch until her dying day, just like her father.

Royal experts believe the statement is a smart “future-proofing” exercise to protect the longevity of the royal family. Confirming Camilla’s title removes one of the potential early pitfalls of Charles’s reign – and it comes with the Queen’s backing.

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Ex-BBC royal correspondent Peter Hunt said: “The Queen is ensuring the transition, when it comes, to her son as king is as seamless and trouble-free as possible. She’s future-proofing an institution she’s served for seventy years.

“And for Camilla, the journey from being the third person in a marriage to queen-in-waiting is complete.”

Royal author Penny Junor added that the statement was the Queen’s way of informing her public that Camilla’s new title was “a proper endorsement from the top”.

It’s a savvy move, according to Penny, because “the only way the public would find it acceptable for Camilla to be Queen was for the Queen herself to make it clear this
is what she wanted”.

“I was blessed that in Prince Philip I had a partner willing to carry out the role of consort.” (Credit: Getty)

However, a closer analysis of the Queen’s statement suggests this is more than a title confirmation; it’s also an acknowledgement of what being a royal consort entails.

The Queen thanked her family for their support – and specifically her late husband Prince Philip and recognised the grand sacrifices he had made over the years in his role as her consort.

The monarch wrote: “I was blessed that in Prince Philip I had a partner willing to carry out the role of consort and unselfishly make the sacrifices that go with it.

“It is a role I saw my own mother perform during my father’s reign.”

“It is a role I saw my own mother perform during my father’s reign.” (Credit: Getty)

When viewed in this light, royal historian Robert Lacey says the decision to endorse Camilla is both a poignant and respectful gesture for the under-appreciated role of being a monarch’s spouse, also known as “walking two steps behind”.

“She has clearly been thinking about the importance of a partner and a consort to her. She has just lost her own consort, and I think that’s a big factor in why we’re hearing it now,” Robert said.

“They call it ‘The Firm’ – and this really brings Camilla into The Firm properly.”

In response to the Queen’s message, a spokesman for Charles, 73, said “he and the Duchess of Cornwall are touched and honoured by Her Majesty’s words”.

Charles was “touched and honoured” by the Queen’s words. (Credit: Getty)

Meanwhile, royal experts have interpreted the Queen’s latest statement as the clearest indication yet that the baton is in the process of being passed to Charles and Camilla.

This move comes in light of the Queen’s advancing age as well as her recent run of poor health. In late 2021, the elderly monarch was hospitalised, forcing her to pull out of a number of engagements.

As she recovered, she remained confined to light desk duties and virtual appearances, and only recently emerged to launch the Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

Guests reported that at the Queen’s first outing in months she was in “sparkling form”. But the months prior would’ve undoubtedly served as something of a wake-up call to fast-track a transition plan.

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Meanwhile, Camilla’s own growth as a royal family member has further facilitated the timing of the handover. After marrying Charles 17 years ago, the path to public acceptance has been rocky at times, but Penny says the duchess forged her own path by being “loyal, discreet and working her socks off with her charities and supporting the prince”.

With time, her understated and reliable work ethic has shone, with some royal watchers remarking that Charles seems more relaxed with Camilla by his side.

“She’s taken to this job at a relatively late age and she’s been extraordinary,” Penny adds.

Camilla’s ability to win over a cautious public is a product of her championing of causes she’s personally passionate about, such as literacy support charities and animal welfare organisations. More recently, the duchess has been outspoken on domestic and sexual violence abuse against women.

The Queen’s growing support for Camilla as a valued royal family member became apparent when she was recently awarded one of the highest honours as Royal Lady of the Order of the Garter – and she’s doubled down by confirming Camilla’s future title as Queen Consort.

“She will bring warmth to the role of Queen Consort,” Penny insists. “She’s fun and friendly and she has a twinkle in her eye. She makes people feel good for having met her.”

Camilla will “bring warmth to the role of Queen Consort.” (Credit: Getty)

As for Charles, he’s been an heir-in-waiting his entire life – and it seems he’s going to have wait a little longer! But royal historian Dr Ed Owens notes that Charles’s duties have noticeably stepped up recently.

“He has been playing a much more visible role, often substituting for his mother at official and public engagements,” he says, adding that it’s become common to see Charles “involved in other public engagements previously overseen by his mother”.

This was apparent late last year when Charles escorted the Queen to the State Opening of Parliament, accompanied by Camilla. Then, at the COP26 climate summit he quite literally filled in for the Queen at the last minute after she suddenly pulled out due to ill health.

The royal historian explained that seeing Charles and Camilla on duty in these situations is a sign that “the process of continuation is already underway”.

“I think they’ve spent a lot of time as of late emphasising transition and re-orientating the symbolic role of monarchy around the future king,” Dr Owens adds.

Charles has already made it known that environmental issues and youth mental health will be central stances of his leadership. (Credit: Getty)

This transitional phase has also offered up early glimpses of what’s in store during Charles’s reign – and it might look quite different to the Queen’s approach.

Charles has already made it known that environmental issues and youth mental health will be central stances of his leadership. But Charles also appears more outspoken than his mother on politics- adjacent issues, including climate change, which has always been close to his heart.

The future king of the realm also appears to be prepared to position himself as being and remaining connected to pop culture – as seen by his surprising recent appearance on the new ITV reality/docuseries program Keeping up with the Aristocrats.

For Camilla, her formal duties will remain unchanged once she takes her place as named Queen Consort. But the biggest shift will mean she embraces a new informal role as the King’s primary support.

However, the sudden shift in Camilla’s title may yet have broader consequences among younger family members, including Prince William and Prince Harry.

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There are concerns in some corners that allowing Camilla to have the title is an insult to the memory of the princes’ mother – and, by extension, themselves.

The ascension of Camilla would also see her bypass Charles’s younger siblings Princess Anne and Prince Edward.

Again, this may be interpreted as a slight after they have given a lifetime of royal service.

Only time will tell how the royals react. But what now seems certain is that at Charles’s future inauguration as King, standing beside him will be his Queen.

The new issue of New Idea Royals monthly is out now.

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