Camilla the Queen Consort has paid tribute to her late mother-in-law, Queen Elizabeth II, at a Buckingham Palace reception for the winners of the Queen's Commonwealth Essay Competition on Thursday.
"I cannot begin without paying tribute to my dear mother-in-law, Her late Majesty, who is much in our thoughts today and who is so greatly missed by us all," she said.
The Queen Consort also drew parallels between her late mother-in-law and Queen Elizabeth I in her speech, and noted the "immense comfort" she and King Charles have found in "the messages of condolence that we have received, and continue to receive, from the four corners of the world.
"They have reminded us that the written word has the unique ability to connect, to heal, to reassure and to offer hope, even in the midst of grief."
Camilla has long shared the late Queen's passion for literary arts: her Royal Reading Room — a hub for literary communities — was launched online in January 2021, and she is quoted as saying on their website: "to me reading is a great adventure [...] you can escape, and you can travel, and you can laugh and you can cry. Every type of emotion which humans experience is in a book."
There seems to be little doubt that the late Queen Elizabeth shared the same affection for Camilla as she displayed in her speech. It was announced in January of this year that Camilla would be made a Royal Lady of the Order of the Garter, which is the most senior order of knighthood in the country, with only 24 appointments.
Not long after this, in February, Queen Elizabeth used her Platinum Jubilee speech to throw her support behind Camilla being known as Queen Consort "when that time comes" and said this was her "sincere wish". She also noted Camilla's "loyal service" and entreated the public to give Charles "and his wife Camilla the same support you have given me".
This came after years of debate over what Camilla's title would be when Charles became King — one initial suggestion had been 'princess consort'. The late Queen's support made it definitive: Camilla had been accepted into the very centre of the royal fold.
Although the two women clearly had mutual admiration in recent years, their relationship did not always seem to be as warm. Camilla's role in the demise of the marriage between Charles and Diana seemed to be a sticking point.
As Supreme Governor of the Church of England, whose teachings do not permit divorced people to re-marry while their former spouse is alive, the Queen kept her distance from Camilla for a long time.
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The Queen Mother also reportedly didn't approve of Charles and Camilla's relationship, with royal author Robert Jobson writing in his 2006 book, William's Princess, that "it was a fact that Camilla's name was not allowed to be spoken in the presence of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother."
It was not until 2000 when Queen Elizabeth and Camilla are said to have formally met, at a party for the King of Greece at Highgrove.
Just two years before, the late Queen and Prince Philip had refused to attend the 50th birthday party which Camilla threw for Charles at his Gloucestershire residence, because, according to the BBC, "to do so would be seen to publicly sanction her son's affair".
In 2002, at the Queen's Golden Jubilee celebrations, relations between the two women seemingly had begun to thaw: Camilla was seen in the centre of things, watching a concert in the royal box alongside the Queen and other senior royals.
In February 2005, it was announced that Charles and Camilla were going to marry. The engagement ring given to Camilla by the then-Prince of Wales was reported to be a gift from the Queen: the Art Deco style piece had belonged to the Queen Mother.
In April, the pair married in a civil ceremony at the Guildhall, Windsor, after which they had a religious blessing in St. George's Chapel.
While Queen Elizabeth didn't attend the legal marriage, she was front and centre at the religious service.
Queen Elizabeth was also reported to have given an affectionate speech at the reception afterwards, in which she said that her son and Camilla had "overcome [...] terrible obstacles. They have come through and I'm very proud and I wish them well. My son is home and dry with the woman he loves."