Sunday February 6, 2022 | THE COMMONWEALTH
by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends
It was 70 years ago today that King George VI passed away (on February 6, 1952), leaving his wife Elizabeth and two daughters Elizabeth and Margaret.
His eldest daughter Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor, then 25, was first in line to the British Throne, and suddenly found herself Queen.
As Queen Elizabeth II, she has ruled Britain and the Commonwealth for now 70 years, with her husband (the now late) Prince Phillip at her side. In this weekend’s letter, the Queen describes her late husband as “…a partner willing to carry out the role of consort and unselfishly make the sacrifices that go with it.”
Today that might even put the Queen into a light of being the world’s most prominent feminist, in that her role and destiny always came first (they made it work by Philip having full reign over the raising of the family, though one might question how well that worked out given the many family troubles that have happened over the years).
Elizabeth’s actual coronation was on June 2, 1953; she was by then 27 years old (she was born on April 21, 1926). Delaying the coronation was later described historically as having to do with political issues of the UK government and prime minister at the time.
“On the eve of the 70th anniversary of her Accession to the throne, The Queen has written a message thanking the public and her family for their support, and looking forward to Platinum Jubilee celebrations over the coming year.”
That was posted by The British Royal Family on their Twitter stream yesterday. In the letter she lends her full confidence to her eldest son Prince Charles Prince of Wales, and his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, whom the Queen hopes will be recognized as Queen Consort. This will have come as a directive (or maybe just an expectation) from Charles — but also is in the interest of the Royal Family — to smooth the way for the transition to Charles as King.
Warming up to Camilla:
This is also of course yet another step in softening the place for Camilla within the most senior levels of the Royal Family.
There has been the difficult public sentiment about the whole troubled story around the marriage and divorce of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, which for some has only lightly waned.
Jaws of patriarchy:
Some of the posts on Twitter this weekend, in this vein, include some highly Victorian attitudes against how people organize their social lives.
So it’s not just the Royal Family that holds these patriarchal, fearful and restrictive perspectives. For example:
- “This is pretty major. Queen Elizabeth has let it be known that she’d like Camilla to be known as Queen Camilla, when Charles becomes King. Mistresses have been made Queens before, of course. But after all the drama of the Diana years, this is quite a moment.” ~ James Longman, ABC News | @JamesAALongman
- “When #Diana hurt….we hurt. No they used this poor girl and never for once considered her feelings. #Camilla will never be our Queen and Charles King #AbolishTheMonarch” ~ Mrs Cal | @AdvocateCal
- “Oh sure, #Camilla committed adultery with #PrinceCharles for years & caused stress, drama & embarrassment to their families & gets a crown,but when #MeghanMarkle tries to be a more modern royal, they don’t protect her & then strip her & #PrinceHarry of everything! Such hypocrisy!” ~ Kate an Leabharlannaí, USA | @KLeabharlannai
- “A woman who cheated on her husband and engaged in an affair with a married man will be the next head of the Church of England. #Camilla #royalhypocrisy”. ~ Harry’s Kingsguard | @kuronobasket273
More modern attitudes:
By contrast, years ago when Charles and Camilla were married in 2005, some public comment from men at the time included that people in their middle-adult years deserve a chance to find happiness again.
Whether or not the Queen — who is head of the Church of England — took the lead on yesterday’s letter on Sandringham House letterhead, she is also bending to the ‘second chance’ perspective.
It’s no doubt her hope as a mother to the future King that he be happy in these later years of his life, with his chosen woman at his side.
But this step was clearly also necessary as part of a smooth transition for Charles when he becomes King upon the death of his mother. Queen Elizabeth has always the put the crown first, throughout her reign.
Evidently, Charles changed his coronation vows to include ‘Queen Camilla’ five years ago with his mother’s blessing. In the UK media, The Daily Mail is reporting that Camilla is to be given the Queen Mother’s 1937 crown containing the Koh-i-Noor diamond to wear at Charles’s coronation.
Letter from the Queen:
Here is the letter: