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The Duchess of Cornwall

Photo by John Pannell. (CC BY 2.0)

Recently (and possibly to mark her 7th wedding anniversary to Charles, The Prince of Wales), HRH The Duchess of Cornwall was made a Dame Grand Cross in the Royal Victorian Order. To say this is an honor is an understatement. The Royal Victorian Order is one of the few orders of chivalry still awarded by the Queen’s sole discretion, and she doesn’t just hand them out. Generally, recipients of the RVO are people who have served the Sovereign in some personal capacity – they have been diplomats who organized a State Visit, members of the royal household, and members of the Royal Family. However, not every member of the Royal Family automatically receives an RVO, though most of the more prominent members have: current Knights and Dames Grand Cross include The Dukes and Duchesses of Kent and Gloucester, Princess Alexandra, The Earl of Snowdon (Princess Margaret’s husband), and Prince Michael of Kent. In the Queen’s more immediate family, The Princess Royal, The Earl and Countess of Wessex, Prince Andrew The Duke of York, and now The Duchess of Cornwall have received the honor. (Why Prince Phillip and Prince Charles have not received one is beyond me; they have both done tireless work for Her Majesty over the years.)

One potentially-large question this award raises is what I am calling The Problem of Camilla. On one side, Charles and Camilla may be a true love match that was finally allowed to be together. On the other, both Charles and Camilla refused to let go of each other after being told (by the institution required to give consent to their marriage) that their relationship was no longer appropriate. She and Charles essentially shirked their respective marriage vows, and the cynical part of me still wonders if her marriage to Charles was a reward for simply laying low. This “Problem of Camilla” is why she’s still referred to as The Duchess of Cornwall, even though she is legally entitled to be called The Princess of Wales. (I wonder if Kate will be “allowed” by the public to take the title when William becomes Prince of Wales, though considering how well Kate is loved, that may not be an issue.)

It is becoming evident that the Queen has accepted Camilla into her family, and Camilla has proved herself to be a very hard-working royal. Most of the public is apparently also warming up to her, and it’s becoming clear (at least, to me) that Charles is happy when she’s around. Perhaps the marriage is a signal that all was forgiven and the RVO is a reward for her hard work. Otherwise, it’s part of a campaign to prove that Camilla is accepted in the family and little more than a PR move. I’m choosing to think the former.