The Queen has become the first British monarch in history to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee, as she used her momentous milestone to issue her royal seal of approval for the Duchess of Cornwall as Queen Camilla.
In the hugely significant intervention shaping the future of the monarchy, the Queen expressed her “sincere wish” that Camilla will be known as Queen Consort when the Prince of Wales becomes King.
As she reached her 70th year on the throne, the Queen, in the twilight years of her reign, set out her hopes for her daughter-in-law, once a royal mistress and now set to be called Queen and crowned at Charles’s side on his Coronation Day.
The Queen, who came to the throne when she was just 25, is spending her Accession Day privately on the Sandringham estate in remembrance of her father George VI, whose death marked the start of her reign.
This Jubilee is poignantly her first without her beloved husband of 73 years the Duke of Edinburgh, who died only 10 months ago.
National celebrations marking the Queen’s record-breaking service on the throne will be staged during a special four-day bank holiday weekend from June 2-5.
The Queen used the rarest of Jubilees to put her affairs in order on a public platform and end years of controversy over Camilla’s title.
She shared her succession blessing for her eldest son as monarch, and called on the nation to support the pair in their future roles as King and Queen.
The Queen, 95, said in the written message to the nation: “I would like to express my thanks to you all for your support. I remain eternally grateful for, and humbled by, the loyalty and affection that you continue to give me.
“And when, in the fullness of time, my son Charles becomes King, I know you will give him and his wife Camilla the same support that you have given me; and it is my sincere wish that, when that time comes, Camilla will be known as Queen Consort as she continues her own loyal service.”
Charles and Camilla were “touched and honoured” by the Queen’s gesture, Clarence House said.
The prince will make his own public declaration on Sunday celebrating his mother’s Jubilee.
The Queen’s reign has stretched from the post-war years through a new millennium and into a radically altered 21st century.
She has served as a symbol of stability as the world has changed in countless social, cultural, political and technological ways over the intervening decades.
Her time on the throne has seen 14 prime ministers from the Second World War leader Sir Winston Churchill to the present premier Boris Johnson.
And there are now three generations of future monarchs, Charles, the Queen’s grandson the Duke of Cambridge and great-grandson Prince George.
Former BBC royal correspondent Peter Hunt described the Queen’s message as “most extraordinary”.
“The Queen is ensuring the transition, when it comes, to her son as king is as seamless and trouble free as possible,” he said
“She’s future-proofing an institution she’s served for 70 years. And for Camilla, the journey from being the third person in a marriage to queen-in-waiting, is complete.”
The Queen, who acceded to the throne on February 6 1952, also renewed her lifelong pledge of duty, despite approaching her 96th birthday this year.
“As we mark this anniversary, it gives me pleasure to renew to you the pledge I gave in 1947 that my life will always be devoted to your service,” she said.
She paid tribute to Philip for his sacrifices as consort, thanked her family for their support, and made reference to the Queen Mother’s role as a Queen Consort, just as Camilla will be.
Camilla would technically have been Queen when Charles acceded to the throne, and only legislation would have prevented it.
But royal aides insisted, when she married Charles in 2005, that Camilla did not want to be queen and said originally that the former Mrs Parker Bowles “intended” to be known instead as Princess Consort – the first in British history – instead.
But the careful use of the verb “to intend” left this open to change in the future.
Any mention of “Princess Consort” was removed from Charles’s website during a revamp in 2018.
Much has changed in the years since Charles wed his long term love.Camilla was blamed for the breakdown of the prince’s marriage to Diana, Princess of Wales, and when news of their affair first came to light, she faced vitriolic criticism.
It meant the decision was taken for her to become the Duchess of Cornwall on marriage rather than controversially becoming the new Princess of Wales.
Now, in a major U-turn, the duchess will be crowned alongside the prince at his coronation when the time comes.
On the eve of her Jubilee, the Queen was on “sparkling” form as she laughed and joked at a celebratory reception at Sandringham House.
The head of state cut a Jubilee cake, met members of the local Women’s Institute and chatted to former cookery school student Angela Wood who helped to perfect the famous coronation chicken dish invented for her Coronation.
Wearing an Angela Kelly Wedgwood blue crepe with white brocade dress, the Queen, who beamed with delight throughout, used a wooden walking stick to rest on and also carried her trademark black handbag.In her message, the Queen also reflected on the sad anniversary of the death of her father.
Amid the pandemic, she said she hoped the Jubilee would “bring together families and friends, neighbours and communities – after some difficult times for so many of us”.
The Queen, who signed her words “Your servant Elizabeth R”, pledged to continue to “serve you with all my heart”.