The royal wives may have been excluded from the walking aspects of yesterday’s state funeral procession but the events of the past 10 days have seen them step up like never before
Britain’s royal family have lost its matriarch but rediscovered the formidable strength of a matriarchy that will prove pivotal to the reign of King Charles.
The wives of Windsor may have been excluded from the walking aspects of yesterday’s state funeral procession but the events of the past 10 days have seen Camilla, Kate and Sophie step up like never before.
Along with Princess Anne, who reaffirmed her royal trouper status by once again accompanying Queen Elizabeth’s coffin, this quartet has emerged as central to the future prosperity of the House of Windsor.
From Anne’s steely work ethic to Camilla’s role as the king’s rock, and with Sophie and Kate both bringing a welcome dose of normality to this more than 1,000-year-old institution, the newly slimmed-down “firm” appears in safe hands.
Once Prince William and Kate, and Prince Harry and Meghan were viewed as the “fab four”. However, with Harry and Meghan now off the scene – and the disgraced Prince Andrew relegated from senior royal life – the crown is more dependent on girl power than ever before.
It might not quite be a case of “Charlie’s Angels” but it certainly comes close.
For as these leading royal ladies carried out their respective roles in the austere surroundings of Westminster Abbey and St George’s Chapel, we were reminded that, even in the late queen’s absence, the monarchy retains a woman’s touch. That’s important when Britain has not only lost its grandmother but also faces the prospect of three male monarchs.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with an overtly alpha line of succession – but history, from Nefertiti to Grace Kelly, suggests that it is princesses who maintain the fervent interest in the royals as well as making them seem relatable to the public.
As the wife and mother of a future king, Kate (40) is now the Diana figure that Britain has been missing since the Princess of Wales title was set aside with her death 25 years ago: highly photogenic, deeply maternal and with a likeability that appeals to people from all walks of life. Unlike Diana, however, she has the self-assuredness that comes with a stable family background – and 10 years’ experience as a royal girlfriend before she even married William (40).
Camilla (75) is undoubtedly a calming influence on a king who can become frustrated with the demands placed upon him. Those viewing the queen consort as a sort of jovial “plus one” misunderstand her influence not only on the monarch (73), but also his court.
As one royal insider explained: “I think there is a sense that behind the scenes, it’s largely the queen consort who is running the show. She makes a lot more decisions than people think.”
After spending most of the week winning the hearts of well-wishers with her down-to-earth and tactile approach, Sophie (57), the wife of Prince Andrew, once again endeared herself to the public at the funeral by tenderly putting an arm around Prince George (9). As the royal who carries out more engagements than any other, bar the king, Anne (72) will continue to supply invaluable sibling support.
Devoted to duty and regarded as a no-nonsense grafter, the seafaring princess provides some much-needed ballast for a royal ship sailing in choppy waters.
The women of the second Elizabethan age are fast proving that they don’t just bring femininity to the monarchy, but a similar degree of fortitude.
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