Camilla Queen Consort title would limit years of image repair

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LONDON — The title “Queen” looms large in Britain’s public consciousness, never more so than during the reign of the country’s longest-serving monarch, Queen Elizabeth II.

So when the 95-year-old Queen announced that her daughter-in-law Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall and wife of Prince Charles, would become Queen Consort when Charles takes the throne, it ended years of speculation. about Camilla’s future status.

The announcement, which was made in a letter on Saturday to mark 70 years since Elizabeth’s rise, could be seen as an official stamp of approval for their union, as well as an effort to smooth the path of clean Prince Charles’ journey to the throne, say historians and royal experts.

“In the royal family and in the UK, titles matter in a way that is sometimes difficult for Americans to parse,” said Arianne Chernock, associate professor of history at Boston University.

In many ways, the move can be seen as an effort to ensure that at least one challenge is taken out of Prince Charles’s way as the inevitable transition to his role as monarch looms on the horizon.

“It seems increasingly clear to me that the more he can claim to be working in his mother’s tradition, realizing her vision, the better for him,” Professor Chernock said.

The title of queen consort would elevate Camilla’s status, cementing her role as Charles’ royal partner. This also means that she will also play a bigger role in her coronation and be crowned.

Camilla’s royal role has already expanded since she and Prince Charles married in 2005, but royal watchers were unsure what it might look like when Prince Charles becomes king. It was the second marriage for the two, and Camilla was swept away by British tabloids for years after her romantic involvement with Charles during his marriage to Diana, Princess of Wales became known.

Diana was killed in a car accident in 1997, five years after her separation from Charles and a year after their divorce. Camilla was previously married to Andrew Parker Bowles, but the couple divorced in 1995. Amid all the relationship drama, tell-all interviews and the release of a recording of a tapped call offered sordid details about the private life of Charles and Camilla. .

Camilla is not the first royal bride to face public skepticism and controversy over her title. Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, had to fight for years to be made a consort due to mistrust of his German background.

“With Camilla, there’s a similar kind of distrust and skepticism,” Professor Chernock said. “It’s not because she’s a stranger in her case, of course. It just stems from the origin story of their relationship.

But in the nearly 17 years since Camilla and Charles were married, they have worked to cultivate a public image of service, stability and discretion.

“It was all deeply uncomfortable – we know more than we would ever want to know about this couple – and so it’s part of a very careful, very long-term rehabilitation strategy,” Professor Chernock said.

As well as helping to repair the couple’s public image, the Queen Consort’s announcement also signals full acceptance of a divorced spouse. All but one of Queen Elizabeth’s children are divorced, so it’s something the family grew up on used to.

‘This could be an opportunity to present a more forgiving, flexible and modern idea of ​​what the monarchy stands for,’ Professor Chernock said.

Edward Owens, historian and author of ‘The Family Firm: Monarchy, Mass Media and the British Public, 1932-53’, said the Queen’s decision to offer Camilla the title of queen consort suggests the crown is changing with when it comes to divorced people.

The Queen did not attend Charles and Camilla’s wedding because she is the head of the Church of England, which did not allow divorced people to remarry at the time (it now does ).

The queens’ intervention, Dr Owens said, means Camilla has “the royal stamp of approval”.

“It is the queen who removes any doubt, by making it known very publicly that it is her personal wish that Camilla take this title,” said Dr Owens. “To oppose this idea that Camilla would be made queen is now to oppose the Queen’s personal wish, so she is taking advantage of the public goodwill towards Elizabeth II.”

Over the years, Camilla’s efforts to discreetly serve the public have helped to bolster her image and that of Charles. Along with the Queen’s daughter, Princess Anne, she is considered one of the most active members of the royal family, carrying out the fundamental work that supports the monarchy, such as charity events and meetings with the public.

Public perception of Camilla changed markedly during her marriage to Prince Charles, Simon Heffer, a historian, written in The Telegraph. “Her success isn’t because she changed as a person so people would admire her more,” he wrote, “it’s because people changed their view of her and realized that she was a very good person from the start.”

On the streets of London on Monday, many who spoke about the future husband seemed to agree.

“People have accepted it now after this Diana thing and so on,” said Eamon Gunn, 56, who works in the music business.

“She just stays in the background and doesn’t get involved,” he said. “I think she does a good job at what she does. She just minds her own business behind the scenes.

Popular culture has brought Camilla and Charles’ story to a new generation, with later seasons of “The Crown” and movies like “Spencer” bringing fictionalized versions of their relationship with the masses.

Stephanie Martin, 36, a screenwriter and playwright, said so many people had watched ‘The Crown’ that they felt “quite invested in their love story”. She said she was happy to see the new title. “I’m in,” she said. “For me, this is a real love story in its final conclusion. Good for her.

Some felt it was much ado about nothing.

“I wouldn’t mind it anyway,” said Oliver Foley, 43, who works as a decorator. Mr Foley said: “I am not a royalist. I admire the queen, but I don’t think about the monarchy on a daily basis.

Gary Power, 56, an artist, said the royal family had become less important to the British people.

“When it became national news,” he said, “I thought, ‘Really? What else is going on in the world? »

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