Camilla reveals she is a Happy Valley fan as she celebrates inspiring women

The Queen Consort has revealed she was gripped by crime drama Happy Valley as she celebrated International Women’s Day with its star and a host of inspiring individuals.

Actress Sarah Lancashire was invited to the Buckingham Palace event alongside the 2021 Strictly Come Dancing winner and EastEnders actress Rose Ayling-Ellis and former Tehran prisoner Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s wife Akshata Murty was also among the guests alongside Afrobeats singer Tiwa Savage, performer Elaine Paige and Leader of the House of Commons, Conservative MP Penny Mordaunt.

After Camilla appeared to praise the show Lancashire replied: “Thank you very much indeed, I’m amazed you found time to watch.”

Critics hailed Happy Valley’s concluding episode as “electrifying” and “Bafta-winning”. It saw Lancashire’s West Yorkshire police sergeant Catherine Cawood have one last showdown with murderer, sex offender and escaped convict Tommy Lee Royce, played by James Norton.

The drama ended after three seasons and the Queen Consort seemed to ask about its future as the actress replied: “It’s the right thing to do, I just cannot keep doing it” adding it had taken an “emotional” toll and “it would kill me”.

Camilla, president of the Women of the World (WoW) Festival which has been staged across the globe and will welcome the public this week in London, was joined at the palace by women from across society, including entrepreneurs, entertainers, athletes, authors and journalists.

In a social media post Camilla highlighted the importance of the day: “International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate female achievements, to encourage and inspire one another, and to thank the women in our lives for their contribution to society.”

Official royal social media accounts highlighted the “remarkable women” the Queen Consort has met during the past 12 months, from the First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska to Ayling-Ellis, recognised for her work highlighting the deaf community.

Investitures at Buckingham Palace
Happy Valley star Sarah Lancashire after being made an OBE (Yui Mok/PA)

Camilla added: “To me they represent not only themselves and their own efforts, but also the millions of brilliant women who make a difference each day. Because, to steal a quote, ‘behind every great woman… is another great woman’.”

The Queen Consort chatted to Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a dual British-Iranian national, detained by Tehran in 2016 after a holiday visit with her daughter Gabriella to see her parents.

Following six years of imprisonment, she landed back in Britain in March 2022 after the UK finally agreed to settle a £400 million debt dating back to the 1970s.

She told Camilla: “I’m happy to be here – it’s lovely to be free.”