King pays tribute to ‘steadfast devotion to duty’ of his ‘darling wife’ Camilla

The King has paid tribute to the “steadfast devotion to duty” of his “darling wife” Camilla in his first address to the nation.

Charles, who became King on the death of his mother, the Queen, on Thursday, said it was “a time of change for my family” and spoke of how much he relied on his wife.

“I count on the loving help of my darling wife, Camilla,” he said.

Queen Elizabeth II death
Camilla was by the King’s side as he viewed tributes to his late mother, the Queen, outside Buckingham Palace on Friday (Yui Mok/PA)

“In recognition of her own loyal public service since our marriage 17 years ago, she becomes my Queen Consort.

“I know she will bring to the demands of her new role the steadfast devotion to duty on which I have come to rely so much.”

The wife of a king automatically becomes a queen consort but there had been much controversy over whether Camilla would use the title.

Platinum Jubilee
The Duchess of Cornwall and the Queen (Danny Lawson/PA)

Elizabeth II delivered a masterstroke on the eve of her Platinum Jubilee in February 2022 when she endorsed the Duchess of Cornwall to be known as Queen when the time came.

The Queen said it was her “sincere wish” that Camilla would take the title and called on the public to back both her daughter-in-law and Charles when he became King.

It was a shrewd move from the monarch, in her twilight years, setting her affairs in order and ensuring as smooth a transition as possible.

Platinum Jubilee
Front pages of the Sunday national papers on February 6 2022 after the Queen backed Camilla as Queen (Ian West/PA)

Camilla later said she felt “very honoured and very touched” by the public seal of approval.

It ended years of debate over what the duchess – Charles’s former mistress – would eventually be called.

Royal aides insisted, when she married Charles, that Camilla did not want to be queen and said originally that she “intended” to be known instead as Princess Consort – the first in British history – when Charles acceded to the throne.

But the careful use of the word “intended” left this open to change in the future.

Charles and Camilla's wedding day
The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall after their church blessing on their wedding day (Reuters/PA)

Any mention of “Princess Consort” was removed from Charles’s website during a revamp in 2018.

Much has changed in the years since Charles – whom aides once said had no intention of remarrying – wed his long-term love.

Camilla was blamed for the breakdown of the prince’s marriage to Diana, Princess of Wales, and, when news of their affair first came to light, she faced vitriolic criticism.

But in the decades after the Waleses’ divorce, the death of Diana in 1997 and Camilla’s acceptance into The Firm, the public mood towards the former Mrs Parker Bowles has softened.

Camilla Parker Bowles
Camilla Parker Bowles at Smith’s Lawn, Windsor, in 1992 when Charles was still married to Diana (PA)

Camilla has gradually taken on a more prominent position within the royal family, including riding next to the Queen in her Diamond Jubilee carriage procession.

She also began to attend the State Opening of Parliament.

She was made a Privy Counsellor in 2016 ahead of the Queen’s official 90th birthday, meaning she will be beside Charles when he is formally proclaimed monarch at the Accession Council.

Through charity work championing literacy, and highlighting the problem of domestic abuse and sexual violence, Camilla has carved out her own royal role.

The Queen and Camilla
The Queen and the Duchess of Cornwall riding side by side in a carriage to Buckingham Palace during the Diamond Jubilee celebrations (David Jones/PA)

The Queen paid tribute to Camilla’s “loyal service” in her Jubilee message.

Camilla will be crowned at Charles’s side at his coronation, just as the last Queen Consort, the Queen Mother, was.

She is expected to wear the Queen Mother’s 1937 coronation crown.