SUPPORT OUR JOURNALISM: Please consider donating to keep our website running and free for all - thank you!

Prince Charles and Camilla

Camilla delivers the speech of her life as she speaks out against sexual harassment


The Duchess of Cornwall has paid tribute to the women who “lost to violence this year” saying they must “never be forgotten”. She also urged society to “do everything we can” to end violence against women.

Speaking at the Shamless! Festival, the Duchess delivered her remarks at a reception, reading a victim impact statement that was read in court by Sarah Everard’s mother, Susan. The 33-year-old marketing executive was kidnapped in south London in March of this year. Walking home from a friend’s house, Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens falsy arrested her, claiming she violated pandemic regulations. He then drove her to near Dover, raped, and strangled her before burning her body and disposing of the remains. Couzens pleaded guilty to Everard’s kidnap and rape and received a whole life order on 30 September 2021.

Reading the statement the Duchess described as “searing”, she said: “Each one of these women endured unimaginable torment – and their loved ones who are left behind continue to suffer in the wake of their deaths.

On September 30, Sarah Everard’s mother stood before her daughter’s killer to give her searing victim impact statement.”

After quoting the statement, the Duchess went on to add: “I know that all of you here today join me in paying tribute to all these precious lives that have been brutally ended, and in renewing our commitment to do everything we can to bring about the end of violence against women.”

On the very same day that Couzens was arrested, a survey was published showing 86% per cent of young women in the UK have been sexually harassed in a public space and didn’t report it.

The Duchess noted a crime survey for England and Wales that showed 144,000 women were victims of rape or attempted rape just within the last year. If you break that down, that’s about 16 incidents per hour. She also reported that on average, one woman is killed by a man every three days.

“We do not, in any way, hold all men responsible for sexual violence. But we do need them all on board to tackle it. After all, rapists are not born, they are constructed.

“And it takes an entire community – male and female – to dismantle the lies, words and actions that foster a culture in which sexual assault is seen as normal, and in which it shames the victim.

So let us all leave here today and try and get the men in our lives to participate in building a shameless society.”

We do not, in any way, hold all men responsible for sexual violence. But we do need them all on board to tackle it. After all, rapists are not born, they are constructed.

And it takes an entire community – male and female – to dismantle the lies, words and actions that foster a culture in which sexual assault is seen as normal, and in which it shames the victim.

“So let us all leave here today and try and get the men in our lives to participate in building a shameless society.”

The Duchess ended her speech by asking: “How many more women must be harassed, raped, or murdered before we truly unite to forge a violence-free world?”

The speech has been described by some royal commentators as being the speech of her life, with the Duchess receiving widespread praise.

Camilla hoped the upcoming Shamless! Festival, a collaboration between the WOW (Women of the World) Foundation, of which she is president, and Birkbeck, University of London’s SHaMW (Sexual Harms and Medical Encounters) project, would help create a world free from violence against women.

“Together, today, let us resolve to support survivors to be ‘shameless’ and not to take on misplaced feelings of stigma.” 

Through speaking up about our experiences, we break the wall of silence that allows perpetrators to go unpunished and increases the feeling of isolation that so many survivors describe.”

Camilla is a vocal supporter of anti-VAWG (violence against women and girls) causes. In September, she became the patron of Nigeria’s first sexual assault referral centre.

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.