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Queen Camilla’s support privately and publicly is now more important than ever for the King

It’s a pattern, I’m told, that we’re going to have to get used to over the coming weeks.

Seeing the King travel to London for short amounts of time for treatment and meetings before heading off to one of his homes in the countryside to rest. Leaving the Queen to hold the fort, publicly at least.

Since Buckingham Palace announced the King has cancer it’s been up to Camilla to travel the country, rattling through a dozen engagements, and bringing a new unintentional focus onto her work.

She’s doing a good job of putting on a brave face.

It was all smiles as she was surrounded by a glittering array of acting royalty at a Shakespeare event this week.

The King was also due to be there. Instead, Camilla, on her own, was affectionately given a knitted jumper with an enormous red heart on it for Valentines by Gyles Brandreth, and another one to take back to the love of her life.

Queen Camilla meets (front row third left) with Dames (left to right back row) Joanna Lumley, Floella Benjamin, Twiggy Lawson, Harriet Walter, Penelope Wilton, Maureen Lipman (left to right front row) Virginia McKenna, Sian Phillips, Vanessa Redgrave, Penelope Keith and Patricia Routledge at a Celebration of Shakespeare event at Grosvenor House, central London, marking 400 years since the first Shakespeare folio. Picture date: Wednesday February 14, 2024.
Image: Queen Camilla meets dames for a celebration of a Shakespeare event. Pic: PA

That Camilla would be his Queen and centre stage in this way would once have been unthinkable to some.

More on Queen Camilla

Ingrid Seward has been the Editor of Majesty magazine since the 1980s and told me for a long time they wouldn’t put Camilla on the cover.

“When Camilla first became truly visible with Prince Charles, our readers didn’t like her… the turnaround has been very gradual, and people’s memories are very short.

“They probably don’t remember that she was so vilified and hated and she was, actually, after Diana died, she was a complete prisoner in her own house. So much so that Prince Charles’s chef used to prepare meals and they would be sent round to her.”

‘Indifference but not full acceptance’

Opinion has undoubtedly softened over the years. But at times it feels more like indifference rather than full acceptance.

For example, not everyone accepts her new title.

Outside the London Clinic, some passers-by were confused when we said the Queen was visiting the King.

King Charles and Queen Camilla leave The London Clinic.
File pic: AP
Image: King Charles and Queen Camilla leaving The London Clinic last month. File pic: AP

“We don’t have a Queen anymore,” they said – the legacy of Queen Elizabeth II is so strong.

Talking to other royal journalists they also find that any positive stories about Camilla do still get negative comments.

The palace doesn’t appear overly worried.

One insider said to me: “This isn’t a popularity contest, it’s public service”, stressing how Camilla, despite obviously being concerned for her husband, has been “determined for his sake, and the sake of the institution, to keep to the diary of engagements”.

Watch her at work and you can’t fault the way she gets stuck in.

At an event in Bath, she was on her hands and knees scrabbling about on the floor helping a pensioner to find the name badge she’d just dropped.

It’s an easy manner that means people open up, the pensioner in question, offering some words of sympathy, “it’s not easy for you people to have something, it’s always in the papers”, she said reflecting on the King’s diagnosis.

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Queen showcases her table tennis skills

What has helped the Queen to find her feet is a loyal group of women she’s met through her charity work.

Relationships that have grown closer and into friendships over time because of Camilla’s dedication to certain causes like domestic violence, osteoporosis, and literacy.

Maggie’s, the cancer charity, was one of the first patronages she took on after marrying Prince Charles.

Read more:
Queen Camilla’s guests wish King Charles ‘speedy recovery’
Smiling King Charles attends church for first time since cancer diagnosis

Camilla possesses ‘magical skill’

Chief executive Dame Laura Lee first met her in 2008 and said Camilla’s always known what’s been expected of her.

“Obviously she’s come into the family but I think she understands the role of service of giving and giving back and with that receiving the sense of making a difference to people’s lives.

“From the first day that I met her 15 years ago it was there… her curiosity and interest in people, her humour. She always, I think, leaves the room with people feeling better than when they arrived and that is a very magical skill that’s particular to her.”

This coming week her diary is again looking busy with receptions.

We’re also expecting to see the King’s first meeting with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in person since his diagnosis.

On Tuesday, he surprised guests at one of Camilla’s events at Clarence House by sticking his head around the door and waving.

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It’s fair to say he’s feeling frustrated that he’s not allowed to do more, but those are doctors’ orders and I’m told he’s full of admiration for how his wife is picking up the public duties.

Royal sources tell me her influence is also strongly felt inside the palace.

Like Prince Philip, you could say she’s the monarch’s eyes and ears. The King listens to her opinions and that’s led to changes in how things are done.

Whatever others might think of her, Camilla’s support privately and publicly is now more important than ever for her husband, as they face another difficult phase in their lives together.

Sky News Source