ROBERT HARDMAN: Camilla's honour is a hint she might be named Queen

ROBERT HARDMAN: Camilla's honour is a hint she might be named Queen

ROBERT HARDMAN: Camilla being made a Lady of the Order of the Garter is a strong hint that she could be named Queen instead of Princess Consort

Even in royal circles, there is no more exalted honour than being a Knight or a Lady of the Most Noble Order of the Garter. Look at the official title of the Prince of Wales, for example: the first letters after his name are ‘KG’.

Being a member of the Garter trumps everything else.

And from today, anyone writing to the Duchess of Cornwall will need to put ‘LG’ – Lady Companion of the Order of the Garter – after her name.

Even in royal circles, there is no more exalted honour than being a Knight or a Lady of the Most Noble Order of the Garter. Look at the official title of the Prince of Wales, for example: the first letters after his name are ‘KG’. And from today, anyone writing to the Duchess of Cornwall will need to put ‘LG’ – Lady Companion of the Order of the Garter – after her name

The fact that the Queen has now bestowed it on the Duchess of Cornwall is the greatest recognition to date of the role that the former Camilla Parker Bowles now plays in the life of the monarchy. The honour, after all, even eluded Diana

The order goes back to Edward III and the days of knights in shining armour. 

There are three tiers of membership, starting with the Knights Companion and Ladies Companion: 24 eminent public figures hand-picked by the Sovereign. 

Then there are ‘Extra’ Knights and Ladies, an honorary membership for foreign monarchs.

Most senior of all are the Royal Knights and Ladies: traditionally restricted to a sprinkling of family who were born royal, plus the Sovereign’s consort.

The fact that the Queen has now bestowed it on the Duchess of Cornwall is the greatest recognition to date of the role that the former Camilla Parker Bowles now plays in the life of the monarchy. The honour, after all, even eluded Diana.

The Queen is making a clear statement. She has been deeply impressed by the good-natured way in which the duchess has supported the Prince of Wales as he has shouldered more duties on the Queen’s behalf.

The order goes back to Edward III (above) and the days of knights in shining armour. There are three tiers of membership, starting with the Knights Companion and Ladies Companion: 24 eminent public figures hand-picked by the Sovereign. Then there are ‘Extra’ Knights and Ladies, an honorary membership for foreign monarchs

‘It’s an indication of the Queen’s total confidence in the Duchess of Cornwall,’ says Hugo Vickers, author of Royal Orders and an authority on the Garter.

The Queen knows how important it is to have a dependable soulmate. She said as much in her Christmas Day tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh. The only person more proud of this award than the duchess will be Prince Charles himself.

It also points to a decision that will need to be made sooner or later.

For now, the official position is that the duchess will be styled the ‘Princess Consort’ in the next reign, a position set at her 2005 wedding to Charles. It is an increasingly incongruous title given that the wife of a King is always Queen.

The Royal Family do not want to go near this subject since it invokes memories of the prince’s divorce from Diana and the dark days after her death. It is an issue for another day.

This honour, though, makes it pretty clear what the current Monarch thinks.

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