Camilla supports domestic abuse survivors in first official visit after 'Queen consort' decision

The Duchess of Cornwall, Patron of St. John's Foundation, during a visit to Bath-based charity VOICES to meet people with lived experience of domestic abuse, and to understand how VOICES works with survivors and overcomers of abuse on their journey of recovery. Picture date: Tuesday February 8, 2022.  Finnbar Webster/PA
The Duchess of Cornwall, Patron of St. John's Foundation, during a visit to Bath-based charity VOICES. Credit: Finnbar Webster/PA

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, has been on her first official royal duties since her mother-in-law, the Queen, paved the way for her to be known as Queen Consort.

The desire - expressed by the Monarch on her historic Accession Day at the weekend – means that when Prince Charles becomes king, his wife, will be called Queen Camilla.

It has been a controversial, and hotly-contested matter ever since the death of Charles’ first wife, Princess Diana, and his decision to marry Camilla in 2005.

The Duchess of Cornwall at Roundhill Primary School, Southdown, Bath. Credit: Peter Nicholls/PA

On Tuesday, the duchess was supporting the work of charities in two areas she cares passionately about: domestic abuse victims and children’s literacy.

She visited a refuge for victims of female violence in Bath and also went to a primary school to support children’s learning and reading.

The announcement on Sunday means Camilla will be called the Queen Consort - just as Queen Elizabeth (latterly the Queen Mother) was to George VI, just as Queen Mary was to George V and just as Queen Alexandra was to Edward VII.

She would have held that position legally because, by law, the wife of a king is always known as ‘Queen’ - but it was always unclear if Camilla would use the title as royal aides could not be sure how the public would respond.

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The 74-year old has often faced criticism from some members of the public because she was Prince Charles’ mistress during his unhappy – and ultimately – unsuccessful marriage to Diana.

But her friends and many royal observers point out she wasn’t personally to blame for a mis-matched marriage that was inevitably doomed to fail.

When Charles and Camilla announced in 2005 that they had become engaged, his office stressed that Camilla would neither take the Princess of Wales title (to which she was also entitled), nor would she become a Queen Consort.

Instead, at that time, royal aides insisted she would be known simply as ‘Princess Consort’ to a future King Charles.

The Duchess of Cornwall, Patron of St. John's Foundation, during a visit to Bath-based charity VOICES to meet domestic abuse survivors. Credit: Finnbar Webster/PA

On Tuesday, Camilla met the survivors of domestic violence, an area where she does a lot of campaigning, at a Bath charity called ‘Voices’.

It helps survivors with their recovery through support and counselling.

Recently, Camilla spoke movingly on the issue of violence against women and referred to the murders of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa.

She paid tribute to all the "precious lives" that have been "brutally ended".

The Duchess of Cornwall meets children as she arrives for a visit to Roundhill Primary School, in, Southdown, Bath. Credit: Andrew Matthews/PA

On her first engagement on Tuesday, at Roundhill Primary School, the duchess stopped to chat and wave to the youngsters who were leaning over the school gates waving flags.

Camilla joined the very youngest pupils at the school in a Language for Life class, where they were making fruit smoothies, and visited a reading group.

She also planted a silver birch tree as part of the nationwide tree planting initiative for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee – known as the Queen’s Green Canopy.

The duchess is a keen reader, and works hard to promote literacy skills in all ages.

Camilla plants a tree at Roundhill Primary School, in Southdown, Bath. Credit: Peter Nicholls/PA

On Sunday, Prince Charles wrote about the "honour represented by my mother’s wish" and he spoke of his "darling wife" and the way she has been a "steadfast support" to him.

There was no comment about her future role as Queen Consort on Tuesday, and there is unlikely to be.

The duchess will instead get on with her work.

The message from the Queen about Camilla clearly shows the monarch has been impressed by the way she has got her head down and supported Prince Charles as he prepares, at some point, to become king.