Camilla breaks with tradition: Queen Consort will not have ladies-in-waiting

The wife of King Charles III will instead have ‘Queen’s companions’ to provide her with assistance at public events

Camilla, the Queen Consort, at Barnardo's Nursery in London on November 24.
Camilla, the Queen Consort, at Barnardo's Nursery in London on November 24.ANDY RAIN (EFE)

Just three months after her proclamation as Queen Consort, Camilla has already broken one of the oldest traditions of the British monarchy: she will be the first queen in centuries without ladies-in-waiting. The news, first reported by the British tabloid The Daily Mail in October, was confirmed by Buckingham Palace in a statement this past weekend.

From now on, Camilla will have so-called “Queen’s companions,” a position that did not exist until now and will replace that of lady-in-waiting, which had been part of the monarchy since medieval times. During Elizabeth II’s lifetime, both she and her sister, Princess Margaret, were accompanied by their ladies-in-waiting, affectionately known as the Head Girls, on royal tours and official duties, acting as advisers and performing clerical tasks.

According to Buckingham Palace, Camilla’s companions are six confidantes and close friends who will help her with her day-to-day activities. Sarah Troughton has held the position of Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire since 2012, in addition to being a second cousin of Charles III. Lady Sarah Keswick has been a close friend of the monarchs for years. Baroness Chisholm is a former Conservative whip and Cabinet Office spokeswoman in the House of Lords. Fiona Shelburne, Marchioness of Lansdowne, is a professional interior designer and has run her own studio for over three decades. Lady Katharine Brooke is also a close friend of the royals, as well as being the daughter of one of Elizabeth II’s former ladies-in-waiting during her reign. Jane von Westenholz has been friends with the royals for decades. Her daughter is also a close friend of Prince Harry and was the person who introduced him to Meghan Markle.

“The queen consort did not want or need ladies-in-waiting. The companions will have a different role. They will be there to provide support and company. At the end of a busy day, it’s nice to have an old friend by your side,” a source close to The Sunday Times” explained.

With this change, the former ladies-in-waiting of Queen Elizabeth II will help the king, but they will be known as Ladies of the House. Lady Susan Hussey, Lady Mary Morrison and Lady Annabel Whitehead will help Charles III organize formal events at Buckingham Palace. The Queen’s companions will no longer be in charge of royal correspondence or planning the agenda, as they were in their previous role. From now on they will only have to occasionally accompany Camilla at public events. They will not receive a salary, but allowances to cover their expenses.

In recent years, Elizabeth II was accompanied by a total of seven ladies-in-waiting. However, their advanced age, similar to that of the sovereign, meant that, little by little, they had left their post or passed away. In early December 2021, Ann Fortune, Duchess of Grafton, the queen’s lady-in-waiting since 1967, died at the age of 101. A few weeks later, Diana Maxwell, Lady Farnham, who had been Elizabeth’s lady-in-waiting since 1987, died at the age of 90. In 2022, two more of the former ladies of the late monarch passed away. Just a week ago, Lady Frances Campbell-Preston died at the age of 104 after spending 37 years with the Queen Mother.

The Queen’s companions will have their first official event on this Tuesday at Buckingham Palace, where Camilla is set to receive other members of royalty including Queen Rania of Jordan, Mathilde of Belgium and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark. The event aims to give visibility to the problem of domestic violence against women and girls.

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