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Queen Camilla

The first year of Queen Camilla

Stephen Lock/ i-Images

It is a year since the United Kingdom got a new consort, Queen Camilla.

For years, many thought she would never be Queen. During Charles’s marriage to Diana, Camilla had an affair with the future King. At the time of the separation of Charles and Diana, the Church of England strongly opposed divorce. It was always believed Diana would be Queen one day, so many felt opposition towards Camilla following the couple’s divorce and the 2005 wedding of Charles and Camilla. Over time, Camilla’s popularity has grown both publicly and inside the Royal Family.

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While it was unclear if Camilla would be given the queen title when the time came, in the last year of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s life, she declared it was her “sincere wish” Camilla take on the mantle of “queen consort.” A consort is the title used for the wife or husband of a monarch. Queen consorts do not formally share the sovereign’s powers, and dropping the “consort” part of the title does not change that. Up until their 6 May Coronation, when the “consort” title was dropped, a senior royal aide confirmed to the Daily Mail the consort title helped distinguish Camilla from Her Late Majesty in the months following Queen Elizabeth II’s death.

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During the Coronation, she marked the first time in nearly 300 years that a consort would use a previously created crown for the coronation. Her Majesty wore Queen Mary’s crown, which was created back in 1911. She also announced she would replace the traditional role of “lady-in-waiting” with the new role of “queen’s companion.” This would make the position less formal and more occasional. The companion would still assist at official engagements but does not help in replying to letters or day-to-day planning.

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As life went back to normal following the national period of mourning, Queen Camilla continued work to support the over 100 organisations and charities of which she is patron or president. However, public engagements were put to a halt in February when Buckingham Palace announced she had tested positive for COVID-19. A month later, she accompanied The King for a state visit to Germany, marking his first foreign visit as monarch. Initially, they were to visit France before arriving in Germany, but that trip was postponed because of the 2023 French pension reform strikes.

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Continuing to advocate for literacy, a well-known love for The Queen, in February, her Reading Room Initiative was relaunched as a charity under The Queen’s Reading Room. The organisation works to provide opportunities for the appreciation of literature among children and adults across the world and in the UK.

The inaugural Queen’s Reading Room Festival was held at Hampton Court Palace in June, with Dame Judi Dench, Kate Mosse, and Robert Harris in attendance. In May, as patron of the National Literary Trust, the first Coronation library was opened at Shirehampton Primary School in Bristol. Fifty Coronation libraries will be created for children in communities with low literacy levels across the UK throughout 2024.

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Following the Coronation Service in May at London’s Westminster Abbey, Her Majesty accompanied The King in July to a National Service of Thanksgiving at St Giles’ Cathedral, where the Honours of Scotland were presented to him. In the same month, it was announced that unlike the previous monarch’s consort, Prince Philip, Camilla would not receive a Parliamentary annuity, and instead, her activities would be funded through the Sovereign Grant.

In June, King Charles appointed The Queen to the Order of the Thistle – the highest chivalric order in Scotland. It’s granted to an individual based on public service to the country, or it’s given to someone who has held public office. There can be a maximum of 16 full members at any one time. In 1987, Queen Elizabeth II began to grant full admission to women. With this order, The Queen can now wear the mantle and insignia at appropriate events while she is in Scotland.

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This wasn’t the only new title received. Her Majesty became the Colone-in-Chief of the Grenadier Guards. In February, she would make her first official visit in the new role to the 1st Battalion at Aldershot.

Also in February, The Queen became the co-owner of the late Queen Elizabeth II’s racehorses. Joining her husband in ownership, the couple owned a number of racehorses when they were the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall.

About author

My name is Sydney Zatz and I am a University of Iowa graduate. I graduated with a degree in journalism and sports studies, and a minor in sport and recreation management. A highlight of my college career was getting the chance to study abroad in London and experiencing royal history firsthand. I have a passion for royals, royal history, and journalism, which led me to want to write for Royal Central.