Queen Elizabeth II has been a monarch for 70 years, the living embodiment of service and duty. She’s built up seven decades of capital, and now she’s spending some: by asking that her daughter-in-law, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, to be known as Queen Consort when Charles becomes King. Her request was buried in the fifth paragraph of the message she released on February 5, 2022, just two hours ahead of the beginning of her Accession Day. The entire document is a master class of persuasion, carefully thought out, discussed among her family and timed for maximum effect. Who can say no to the Queen?
- “It is a day that, even after 70 years, I still remember as much for the death of my father, King George VI, as for the start of my reign.” This reminds everyone that Accession Day is not a day of celebration for the Queen but one of reflection and mourning.
- “it gives me pleasure to renew to you the pledge I gave in 1947 that my life will always be devoted to your service.” That famous speech on her 21st birthday, in which she vowed to serve the Commonwealth, is famous not only for the oath she gave to the world, but because she’s honoured it. There has been no retirement at 65, no abdication at 75. She’s continued working three decades beyond when most give up their jobs for gardening and other relaxing pursuits.
- “I was blessed that in Prince Philip I had a partner willing to carry out the role of consort and unselfishly make the sacrifices that go with it. It is a role I saw my own mother perform during my father’s reign.” The Queen is emphasizing that the spouse of a monarch makes lots of sacrifices in their supporting role. And it’s not an easy position to be two steps behind, as Prince Philip. Every successful sovereign needs that one person who is completely loyal and honest.
- “I would like to express my thanks to you all for your support.” And that support extends to the people of the Commonwealth. And Prince Charles has already been selected by Commonwealth leaders to take over the leadership role in that organization after the death of the Queen.
- “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; and it is my sincere wish that, when that time comes, Camilla will be known as Queen Consort as she continues her own loyal service.” It was only eight years after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales when Prince Charles married Camilla Parker Bowles. Knowing that many didn’t want his second wife to take over the titles of his first, they announced that Camilla would be known by her secondary title of Duchess of Cornwall and would become Princess Consort when her husband inherited the throne. But Charles has always wanted his wife to be able to use the title of Queen. Now, 17 years after their marriage, the Queen is finally making the same request, in a very clear and public way that allows for no doubt of her desire that Camilla be Queen Consort.
- “Your servant, Elizabeth R.” The Queen reigns, she doesn’t rule. She asks, instead of orders. She is the servant of the people, instead of a boss. “It is my sincere wish” is how she phrases her request that Camilla be Queen Consort. She knows it’s not a 100 per cent certainty, but she’s done everything she can to ensure the outcome that both Charles and Camilla want.