Queen Consort Camilla is breaking the long-held royal tradition of having "ladies-in-waiting" to spend time with her at Buckingham Palace. Instead, she will reportedly have six officially-appointed "Queen's Companions" to fill the role. A spokesperson for Buckingham Palace explained this distinction to reporters from NBC News.
Queen Consort Camilla reportedly hopes to modernize the role of ladies-in-waiting, complete with a new title. The United Kingdom's tradition of ladies-in-waiting goes back to the Tudor court, which took power in the 1400s. There, women were appointed to serve the queen in every capacity from household tasks to administrative ones, while also participating in the ceremonies and pageantry of the court. In more recent years, many of the positions in their ranks have become more honorary, or have been left vacant altogether.
Queen Elizabeth II maintained the basic structure of ladies-in-waiting as they have existed for centuries, with ranks including a "Mistress of the Robes," a "Lady of the Bedchamber" and a "Maid of Honor." These women accompanied the queen to official functions and attended her at the palace, but did not perform the day-in, day-out duties of their pre-industrial counterparts. Now, Camilla reportedly intends to streamline their organization more thoroughly.
The Buckingham Palace spokesperson said that Camilla's new "Queen's Companions" will include her private secretary and her deputy private secretary, but in general, they will have fewer administrative duties than their predecessors. They will also not be expected to attend as many events with the queen consort. The insider was able to identify Camilla's new companions – Sarah Troughton, Lady Katharine Brooke, Baroness Carlyn Chisholm, Lady Sarah Keswick, Fiona, the Marchioness of Lansdowne and Jane von Westenholz.
The latter, Westenholz, is notably responsible for introducing Prince Harry to his wife Meghan Markle years ago. The source inside the palace also revealed that Queen Elizabeth's former ladies-in-waiting have been invited to remain in the King's household, with their new titles being "Ladies of the House." They may help King Charles III with hosting events but were also granted leave to retire. Three of the women have reportedly decided to remain at the palace while two have retired from public life altogether.
The transition to "Queen's Companions" is the latest sign that the royal family intends to make major changes to adapt to the modern era. With some U.K. residents now loudly calling to abolish the monarchy altogether, these kinds of changes may be the crown's only hope to endure.