How Queen Camilla won the hearts of a nation amid unprecedented royal health battles

Queen stands in for King at Maundy service

Source: Royal Family

As the Queen makes history deputising for the King at the traditional Maundy Thursday church service, the 76-year-old wife of the monarch has shown the world she’s leading the royals out of a tough patch.

After both the King and Princess of Wales stepped away from public duties to concentrate on their cancer treatments, the Queen has fronted dozens of engagements across Britain on her own since mid-January.

“The Queen is absolutely prepared to do whatever needs to be done for the institution,” a royal source told The Sunday Times. 

“She has been buoyed by the public’s reaction. She has found reserves of energy that even she didn’t think she had, and the estimation of her by those inside the palace has soared as she has put her shoulder to the wheel.”

After the King’s cancer diagnosis was announced in early February, his wife undertook 13 official royal engagements on her own before taking a short break in March.

She resumed the workload, which includes her own diary of commitments, on March 11 – and she hasn’t stopped.

The Queen fronted up to Windsor Castle for a memorial service, travelled to Northern Ireland for three days, has been to farmers’ markets and hosted receptions for a children’s poetry competition.

Her public adoration was no more evident than on a street walk through a farmers market in Shrewsbury on Wednesday, where she was mobbed by thousands of well-wishers keen for news abouttheir beloved royals.

As she crouched to speak to two young sisters Harriet, 10, and Lois Waterston, six, who had made posters decorated with hearts and stars for Kate, she reassured them “Catherine is thrilled by all the kind wishes and support”, the Mirror reported.

“I’m sorry they’re a bit creased,” Harriet apologised.

The Queen replied: “I’ll take them carefully and we’ll make sure she knows they’re coming.”

Royal fans responded to the gesture on social media, with one referencing the late Princess Diana: “Her Majesty Queen Camilla is becoming the Queen of Hearts”.

“Children’s hearts are so pure. Camilla is also sweet. I see that people feel at ease with her.”

Queen on walkabout

Source: Sky News

Queen’s final solo duty before Easter

On Easter Thursday (local time), the Queen led the Royal Maundy Service, an ancient tradition dating back to 600AD, where she distributed money to pensioners.

According to the official royal website, it is traditionally the sovereign who hands out “gifts” in a “service which commemorates Jesus washing the feet of the Apostles at the Last Supper”.

During the service, Maundy Money is handed out in two small leather purses, one red and one white, to 75 men and 75 men (the King’s age).

It came as the King’s nephew gave a rare insight into how the monarch is coping with his enforced downtime. In a televised interview Sky News Australia, Peter Phillips said the King was “frustrated” that his recovery is taking longer than “he would want it to”.

“But he is very pragmatic. He understands that there’s a period of time that he really needs to focus on himself.

Buckingham Palace confirmed the King and Queen will reunite and attend an Easter Sunday service at St George’s Chapel in Windsor. It will be his first public appearance at a traditional royal event since his cancer diagnosis.

Close friend Dame Joanna Lumley with the Queen. Photo: Getty

The Queen hasn’t always enjoyed such warmth from the nation, often blamed for the 1996 breakdown of the King’s marriage to Diana.

As the then-Princess of Wales’ marriage to the King – then Prince Charles – was on a knife’s edge in the early 1990s, he embarked on an affair with her, then-Camilla Parker Bowles, whom he met at a polo match in 1970.

In 1995, Diana famously gave an interview to the BBC’s Panorama program in which she said was asked whether she was a factor in the breakdown of their marriage.

“Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded,” the princess replied.

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