On Saturday, the eve of the 70th anniversary of her accession to the throne, Queen Elizabeth II paved the way for Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, to be called a queen once Prince Charles becomes king of Britain.
In a statement, Elizabeth, 95, said it was her “sincere wish that, when the time comes, Camilla will be known as Queen Consort as she continues her own loyal service.” A consort is the partner of the ruling monarch.
The announcement seemed to resolve a sensitive issue for Camilla, the second wife of Prince Charles, who is Elizabeth’s eldest son and the heir to the throne. The two were romantically involved during Charles’s marriage to Diana, the Princess of Wales, who was killed in a car crash in 1997.
Camilla, who married Charles in 2005, was long reviled by the British tabloids, who sometimes called her the most hated woman in the country. It had widely been speculated that she would hold the title of Princess Consort, not Queen Consort, once Charles became king.
But Camilla has become more popular with the public over the years. Elizabeth recently appointed her a Royal Lady of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, a strong show of support.
In her message on Saturday, which she signed “Your Servant Elizabeth,” the queen said she was “eternally grateful for” and “humbled by” the support she received from around the world during her reign, which began seven decades ago on Sunday upon the death of her father, King George VI.
“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,” she said in the statement.
The royal family has been the source of much recent intrigue. Elizabeth’s second son, Prince Andrew, is being sued in New York by a woman who says he sexually abused her when she was a teenager, and the queen recently stripped him of his military titles. In March, Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, who is biracial, gave a sensational interview to Oprah Winfrey in which the couple accused the royal family of callous and racist behavior toward them.
The 70th anniversary of the queen’s reign, known as her Platinum Jubilee, comes at a dark moment for Britain as a whole, battered along with the rest of the world by two years of a devastating pandemic. The country’s prime minister, Boris Johnson, is embroiled in a scandal over boozy parties that violated lockdown restrictions.
But the queen struck an optimistic note in her message. “These last seven decades have seen extraordinary progress socially, technologically and culturally that have benefited us all,” she said, adding that she was “confident that the future will offer similar opportunities to us.”