Camilla could do away with major royal tradition that Queen upheld for almost 70 years

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Queen’s funeral: King Charles, William and Harry arrive at Abbey

Queen Camilla stood by the side of King Charles III as the couple led the Royal Family in the state funeral for Queen Elizabeth II. While mourning the loss of her mother-in-law, Camilla has had to adapt to her new role as Queen Consort and it seems that the former Duchess of Cornwall may do things differently than the Queen who came before.

Throughout her reign, Queen Elizabeth II had an unwavering support system made up of a tight-knit team of dedicated women, who were handpicked by the late Queen and helped her with the day-to-day demands of being monarch. All carrying the title of lady-in-waiting, some picked out her outfits, helped her bathe and dress, while others responded to letters or accompanied her on official engagements.

But behind the title and duty, these women played a more vital role to the country’s beloved Queen: friend and confidante. 

The role of lady-in-waiting is one that is steeped with tradition and honour, typically given to women of noble and aristocratic backgrounds. Historically, ladies-in-waiting did not get paid, and given their wealthy backgrounds, they were able to take on the lifelong unpaid role. They were also unable to quit or retire from the position, therefore committing to serving the Queen for her lifetime. 

With the death of Queen Elizabeth, several of her ladies-in-waiting are expected to retire, due to their own advancing years. While it has been said some may stay on to support the new Queen, one expert has claimed the traditional role may not be filled again. 

Marlene Koenig, a historian who has spent several years researching the Royal Family, explained Queen Camilla may do away with the role in a bid to modernise the monarchy. 

Ms Koenig told Express.co.uk: “There are some positions that may no longer be filled.”

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Queen Camilla / Queen Elizabeth

Camilla may do away with a traditional royal role used by Queen Elizabeth (Image: Getty Images)

Queen Elizabeth II ladies in waiting

The Queen had several ladies-in-waiting throughout her reign (Image: Getty Images)

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She went on: “You wonder if the women, especially Queen Camilla, will use ladies-in-waiting as the Queen did. She’s never had, even as the Duchess of Cornwall, an official lady-in-waiting. 

“Angela MacManus, who was once her secretary, did that [role of a lady-in-waiting] but was not officially named. There have been no officially named ladies-in-waiting.”

Queen Elizabeth appointed nine ladies-in-waiting from 1953 – 2017. “They have mostly been women from aristocratic families,” Ms Koenig said. “Now, they’re all pretty old ladies. And the Mistress of the Robes, Fortune FitzRoy, Dowager Duchess of Grafton, died and Queen Elizabeth never replaced her.”

The expert questioned: “Is it needed anymore if you’re modernising the monarchy? Some of these historic roles have been around for 400-600 years, so is the purpose just symbolic?” 

Angela MacManus, Camilla and Annabel Elliot

Angela MacManus (L) was never officially appointed as Camilla’s lady-in-waiting (Image: Getty Images)

Ms Koenig mentioned Angela Kelly, the late monarch’s personal dressmaker who held the official title: ‘Personal Assistant, Adviser, and Curator to Her Majesty (Jewellery, Insignias, and Wardrobe).’

“Even the Queen inched away from these traditional roles with Angela Kelly and she got closer to the clothes and jewels than the ladies-in-waiting,” the expert claimed.

Historically, ladies-in-waiting were not paid for what they did, differing from the personal assistant and secretaries appointed by royals. The ladies-in-waiting would accompany female royals on outings, standing by to take flowers and provide the royal with “a pair of tights — in case they got a ladder — so they could quickly change, a nail file, different things the royal may need” and they’d “carry these things in their handbag”. 

Ms Koenig also recalled the notes of thanks the ladies-in-waiting would send in response to letters to the Queen. She said: “You’d be really lucky if you got a letter, stating: ‘The Queen thanks you…’ And it would be signed, for example, ‘Lady Susan Hussey, Lady-in-Waiting’. 

Queen Elizabeth II with lady-in-waiting

Ladies-in-waiting traditionally collected flowers during royal women’s outings (Image: Getty Images)

“I don’t think we’re going to see that anymore. I think in the correspondence office, it’s just going to be people signing the letters. In this day in age, they will have people who do it, but I don’t expect they’ll have the formal title.

“The fact that Queen Camilla has not appointed ladies-in-waiting points to that. I think it also could be to stress that they’re not totally relying on people in the nobility.”

Both Camilla and Kate, Princess of Wales were able to appoint ladies-in-waiting upon marrying into the Royal Family. However, neither of them did. Similarly, Sophie, Countess of Wessex, who married the Queen’s youngest son in 1999, has “never appointed a lady-in-waiting”. 

It contrasts with royal women who came before them, such as Diana, Princess of Wales, Princess Alexandra and the Duchess of Gloucester, who all used ladies-in-waiting. 

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Ms Koenig said: “I think it’s something that will be pushed aside. It is a position that I don’t think will be revived in this reign.

“The royal women don’t have someone waiting on them, they have someone who assists them. I think that’s the move.” 

The late Queen’s ladies-in-waiting were among those who paid their respects at the monarch’s state funeral on Monday. 

Lady Susan Hussey, who was affectionately nicknamed ‘number one head girl’, stood by the Queen’s side for over 60 years. 

Now 83, Lady Susan was one of the monarch’s most trusted confidantes. She recommended Tiggy Legge-Bourke as nanny to future king Prince William and his brother Prince Harry, and is also one of the godmothers of the Prince of Wales. 

Queen Camilla and Kate, Princess of Wales

Neither Camilla nor Kate have appointed ladies-in-waiting (Image: Getty Images)

It has been reported that Angela Kelly was interviewed by Lady Susan for her position as the Queen’s dresser. 

However, perhaps the most public display of the monarch’s friendship with her lady-in-waiting came in April last year, at the funeral of Prince Philip. 

It’s said that the Queen personally asked Lady Susan to join her in the car to St George’s Chapel, as the monarch prepared to say her final farewell to her husband of 73 years.

Lady Susan was part of the Sovereign’s ‘HMS Bubble’ during the coronavirus lockdowns.

Dame Mary Morrison, who had served the Queen since 1960, joined Lady Susan at the Abbey.

Queen and Lady Susan in car

Lady Susan accompanied the monarch in the car to Philip’s funeral last year (Image: Getty Images)

Ladies-in-waiting at funeral

Five of the Queen’s ladies-in-waiting attended the funeral on Monday (Image: Getty Images)



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