Princess Kate, Queen Camilla, and the New Power Dynamics of the Royal Family

Princess of Wales attends the National Service of Remembrance at the Cenotaph in London on November 13, 2022.Photo: Getty Images

On March 8, a spokesperson for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex shared a short statement about the couple’s daughter, Lilibet: “I can confirm that Princess Lilibet Diana was christened on Friday, March 3 by the archbishop of Los Angeles, the Rev. John Taylor.”

But the religious sacrament wasn’t what dominated the headlines: instead, it was the use of “princess.” Although Lilibet has technically been eligible for the title since the death of Queen Elizabeth II and the ascension of King Charles III, it was the first time the 20-month-old had been publicly addressed as such. Hours later, Buckingham Palace also added the honorific to their website.

When the Queen died on September 8, the shock was felt around the globe as millions grieved the loss of a world leader. After 70 years on the throne, it felt almost impossible to imagine the Spare“>British monarchy without her. But life goes on, it seems, and so do the Windsors. Six months later, the dust has finally settled—and a new reign’s royal order has emerged.

The first is that of Queen Consort Camilla. While during the early days of their marriage, questions arose on whether Camilla Parker-Bowles would ever be named as Queen out of respect to the late Princess Diana, Camilla has seamlessly adapted to the new title with very little negative reaction. Part of that is almost certainly due to a statement Queen Elizabeth herself released in February 2022: “My sincere wish that, when that time comes, Camilla will be known as Queen Consort as she continues her own loyal service,” she wrote. 

Yet much of it is also due to shifting attitudes around the Queen Consort herself. While Camilla was considered a villain of sorts throughout the 1990s and early 2000s due to her involvement with Prince Charles during his marriage to Diana, her reputation has enjoyed an upward trajectory among the British public, even after the unflattering allegations from Prince Harry in his memoir, Spare. (Right now, her approval rating is at 40 percent according to YouGov—not high, by any means, but no longer dangerously low.) 

It’s also believed that she will soon colloquially drop the cumbersome “consort” part of her title and go by “Queen Camilla,” as Prince Philip did before her. Indeed, during a recent state visit to Germany, Camilla stepped out in the “Boucheron Honeycomb Tiara,” one of the late Queen Mother’s most beloved diadems, to much fanfare. No longer is she a secondary royal character—instead, she’s emerged as a major player within the British monarchy.

Queen Camilla, King Charles III, Prince and Princess of Wales at Buckingham Palace
Camilla, Queen Consort, King Charles III, and the Prince and Princess of Wales at Buckingham Palace in September 2022. Photo: Getty Images

Likewise, the Prince and Princess of Wales’s ascent to widespread popularity within the U.K. feels somehow both subtle and stratospheric. Following the death of the much-loved Queen Elizabeth, they are now officially the best-liked members of the royal family: According to YouGov, Prince William has an approval rating of 72 percent, while Princess Kate has one of 70 percent. In December 2022, Newsweek also found they polled as the most popular royals in America.

Plus, with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s decision to step back from their duties as senior members of the royal family, the Waleses are now firmly in the spotlight. And they’ve embraced it with polish: recently, the Princess of Wales has made several appearances wearing stunning jewelry she inherited from Queen Elizabeth. As Sally Bedell Smith, author of Elizabeth The Queenpreviously told Vogue: “Kate is this wonderful combination of modesty, discretion, and glamor.”

The Princess of Wales is now visibly leaning into a more public role—and arguably becoming the most high-profile member of the family in the process. While earlier in her royal tenure, speaking engagements were few and far between, now, she’s making a far more ambitious mark: In February, she launched “Shaping Us,” a long-term campaign to raise awareness about early childhood development. Whereas much of her previous work has been as part of a team—for example “Heads Together,” a mental health initiative, was led alongside Princes William and Harry—“Shaping Us” is entirely her own project. (Last week, she even published an op-ed in The Financial Times tied to her campaign.) Like the Princess of Wales before her, who was known for her work with AIDS patients and the removal of landmines, Kate is committing to a long-term cause that she hopes will become her legacy. Multiple reports also suggest that the Wales family, including George and Charlotte, will play a key role in King Charles’s coronation.

What about the Sussexes? Even amid the whirlwind—and criticism—over their Netflix documentary Harry and Meghan, as well as Harry’s memoir Spare, the couple shows no signs of stepping down from the public stage. Harry recently made a surprise trip to London for his invasion of privacy case against the parent company of the Daily Mail, confirming their outspoken battle against the British tabloids will be an ongoing one. The Duchess, meanwhile, is continuing to share updates on her charity work. She recently created a pop-up baby boutique for Harvest Home, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit that supports at-risk expecting mothers, and also made a donation to the organization through her foundation, Archewell. It increasingly feels like they operate a court all of their own, undertaking public appearances, releasing statements about family milestones, and championing charitable causes just like their London counterparts.

Although a full reconciliation between the two divided branches of the Windsor family seems unlikely in the near future, it would also be remiss to say the Sussexes are completely severed from the royal fold. Reports say they’ve received an invitation to King Charles’s coronation on May 6, although it remains unclear whether they’ve accepted. In addition, their choice to use the titles of prince and princess for their children shows an interest in maintaining their links to the royal family. (For comparison: Princess Anne, the second child of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, eschewed formal titles for their offspring.) The Sussexes seem to still consider themselves as part of the royal order—and given the Duke is fifth in line for the British throne, they very much are.

This article was originally published on Vogue.

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