Queen Consort Camilla to create coronation history

She will become the first divorced queen consort and be anointed in public

Queen Consort Camilla will be crowned on Saturday. Reuters
Powered by automated translation

Follow the latest news from the coronation of King Charles here

The crowning of Queen Consort Camilla alongside King Charles III on Saturday will be one of a series of firsts in British history.

She will become the first divorced queen consort and in a number of other royal milestones, her participation in the ceremony has also been tweaked to reflect a more modern monarchy.

In contrast to the late Queen Mother’s coronation, she will be anointed with holy oil in full public view in a break with tradition, and will be presented with, but not wear, a ring which “marries” her as consort to the king. Following the ceremony she will formally be known as Queen Camilla.

She will touch the ivory Queen Consort’s Rod with Dove, and the gold Queen Consort’s Sceptre with Cross, rather than holding them like the Queen Mother did.

Buckingham Palace described the change as “just one of a number of ways in which the service has been adapted, evolved, simplified without losing any of its magic and majesty”.

But far from being a trailblazer, the queen consort has quietly supporting King Charles over the decades.

From being vilified as "the other woman" in the king's marriage to his first wife, Princess Diana, in the 1990s, experts believe she has slowly won acceptance.

“Camilla is significant, now people feel more warn to her,” royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliam told The National.

“She is very supportive of Charles. The title has been very controversial, when she married him she was to be known as the Duchess of Cornwall and then the princess consort.

“It was mainly due to the queen on the eve of her platinum jubilee saying she wished her to be the queen consort that has helped pave the way to making this possible. There is still some controversy though, people are not over enthusiastic about the idea of her being queen, but it is accepted they are an ideal couple.”

Queen Consort's charity work helps raise her profile

Behind the public glare, she has thrown herself into charity work which has helped to endear her to the nation, he added.

“She has done a lot of charity work with osteoporosis and literacy and domestic violence. She has given several charities higher profiles and has gained a lot of respect for that.”

Click to see profiles

Before the couple married, Charles let it be known that his relationship with the then Camilla Parker Bowles was "non-negotiable" and she would always be "central to his life".

At the time, his mother Queen Elizabeth II was reportedly worried that the marriage would cause irreparable damage to the monarchy.

The "consort" part of her title will be dropped and she is to be known simply as Queen Camilla following the coronation.

Although her popularity ratings remain lower than most other senior royals, she is increasingly seen by the public as a warm and down-to-Earth figure.

"She's someone who has a strong sense of duty," Mr Fitzwilliam said.

"There's no question that she regards her role as to support Charles, and that they are soulmates ... similar age, a similar sense of humour, similar friends ... everything that he and Diana did not have in common.

"The rehabilitation of Camilla was very successful, and it led to their marriage and it's been very happy.”

She has also shown her tough side by silently enduring much criticism over the years.

The former UK ambassador to France, Peter Ricketts, has described her as "strong woman".

"She's been very low-profile in the UK in recent decades," he said.

"Now she has a moment to come more into the spotlight."

It comes amid controversy caused by Prince Harry’s autobiography Spare in which he wrote that he feared she would be a “wicked stepmother”.

He also accused her of playing "the long game", with a campaign aimed at "marriage, and eventually the crown with Pa's blessing we presumed".

But the queen consort’s son, Tom Parker Bowles, rejected the claim.

"This wasn't any sort of end game," he said last week. "She married the person she loved."

The queen consort was not the only one targeted in his book, his brother was also in the firing line.

Prince William was accused of calling his brother’s wife “difficult”, “rude” and “abrasive” and of attacking him.

During the coronation, whereas William will play a central role his brother has been sidelined.

“We are going to be looking at a continuation of the rift,” Mr Fitzwilliam said.

“Harry will only be here briefly for the service, there will be little chance for him to interact with anyone else because no one trusts him. It is a thoroughly unhappy affair built on bitterness which still remains. It is an unhappy situation on what should be a day for celebration.”

Queen Consort's dress will 'make history'

Despite the dramas and controversies, when the queen consort makes history on Saturday experts say there will be only one thing that will be remembered for decades to come — the dress.

"It'll be the dress that will be the most talked about, it will be analysed in every detail," said Caroline Young, a fashion specialist.

While the design of the gown is a close guarded secret, royals' commentator Miranda Holder says it will "define" her.

So forget the pomp and pageantry, when Queen Camilla is crowned a new future is about to begin.

"It's going to go down in history," Ms Holder said.

Updated: May 05, 2023, 10:25 AM