One last gift from Isabel II to her son Carlos: the title of queen consort for Camila | International
Charles of England has known since he was four years old that one day he would be king. But the question of the title of his second wife, Camila, has long been a mystery. In February 2022, Elizabeth II needed just two sentences to end more than two decades of uncertainty about her daughter-in-law’s position within the British royal family. “When my son Carlos becomes king, I know you will give him and his wife Camila the same support you have given me. It is my sincere wish that, when the time comes, Camila will be known as queen consort, ”the Monarch then announced in a brief statement, issued within the framework of her celebrations for her Platinum Jubilee.
Under common law, the wives of British kings are always known as queens consorts, while husbands of queens are only prince consorts. Philip of Mountbatten, husband of Elizabeth II, for example, had to content himself with being Duke of Edinburgh. Despite the tradition, Camila’s new condition is still a novel and historical fact for the British. There hasn’t been a queen consort in the UK for 70 years. The last was the mother of Elizabeth herself, who was given the title after her marriage to King George VI and who was withdrawn after his death in 1952. From then until her death in 2002, she was known as queen mother.
Doubts about Camila’s position in the Windsor family date back to 1999, when the then Prince of Wales and his girlfriend made their first public appearance as a couple at a party at the Ritz hotel in London. Diana of Wales had died only two years earlier, and the British society of the time did not see favorably the relationship of the heir to the throne with a divorced woman and mother of two children from a previous marriage. In fact, seven years had to pass before Carlos of England and Camila could marry, with the prior approval of Elizabeth II. Finally, on April 9, 2005, they said “I do” in a discreet civil ceremony. The queen and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, did not attend the event, but they were present at the subsequent mass and offered a reception for the newlyweds at Windsor Castle.
According to reports in the English press, the possibility was then considered that Camila would become “princess consort”, the first in the history of the British monarchy. Ultimately, it was agreed that she should receive the title of Duchess of Cornwall, in keeping with the Duchy of Cornwall, a distinction always given to heirs to the British throne. Any other title would have been risky at the time, when even the very validity of the marriage was in question. According to the Royal Marriage Laws of 1753, the only valid kind of union for a member of the British royal family is religious. The Lord Chancellor, a senior UK government official, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, primate of the Church of England and spiritual leader of the Anglican communion, had to come out in defense of the link.
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“It was not easy,” the Duchess of Cornwall herself acknowledged in an interview with the British edition of fashion recently published on the occasion of his 75th birthday. “I was tested for so long and I had to find a way to live with it. Nobody likes to be looked at all the time and, you know, criticized … but I think in the end, somehow, I got over all that and moved on, ”she revealed.
Camila’s position within the royal family was never a big concern for Carlos, but according to the prince’s surroundings, it was “something he wanted to address” with his mother before it was too late. The statement that Isabel II issued last February, a few months before her death, on September 8, was the result of conversations with her heir and proof of a consensus between them. But it was also the way the Monarch found to thank her daughter-in-law for her loyalty, patience and years of service to the crown. Last June, Elizabeth II went a step further and awarded her her highest distinction, naming her a Dame of the Order of the Garter, the oldest and highest ranking institution in the United Kingdom.
In recent years, Camila’s popularity has grown dramatically, earning the love and respect of the British and, above all, her mother-in-law, the sovereign. She may never be “Queen of Hearts” as Diana of Wales was, but she is already Queen Consort of the United Kingdom.
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