At RAF Leeming in Yorkshire - of which the Duchess is the Honorary Air Commodore - on May 8th, she opened a new £4.9 million medical center, which provides primary health care as well as rehabilitation to soldiers who have returned from the battlefront.
| The Duchess of Cornwall|
José Cruz/Agência Brasil via Wikimedia Commons cc
From there, she flew via helicopter to Whittington in Staffordshire to officially open the Defence Medical Services facility as well as the Defence College of Healthcare Education and Training. It was Families Day, where the staff and their families who will be working there had a look at the new building and turned out in force to see the Duchess. There, she met leading dignitaries as well as members of the community, and visited stalls showcasing activities and amenities of the surrounding towns and villages. Going before the crowds, she said they should "celebrate with pride" the opening of the facility.
The next day, she was in Oxfordshire to open the £12million University of Oxford’s Botnar Research Center at the Nuffield Orthopaedic Center in Headington, which conducts research into enhancing the treatment of arthritis, osteoporosis, and other bone and joint diseases. She also headed to Helen and Douglas House Hospice - of which she is Patron - where she unveiled a portrait of herself and met with the staff and residents living there.
It was great to see Camilla out and about after a two week period of mourning for her brother Mark Shand, who died in New York after slipping and hitting his head on a concrete sidewalk. The Duchess was very close to Mark, and this was evidenced when she was seen shedding a tear as she was accompanied by Prince Charles out of the church where the funeral was being held.
Throughout this period, there was mostly sympathy and respect toward the Duchess for the great loss she suffered. But, as is usual when Camilla is in the news, there was also some disrespectful and frankly disgusting commentary on the web (especially on Twitter) directed at her from people who still exercise prejudice and hold a grudge for her actions during the marriage between Charles and Diana.
Now, aside from the fact this is all in the past, what on Earth did any of this have to do with a woman grieving over her beloved brother? What did this have to do with present-day circumstances? Absolutely nothing.
|Loving Diana need not also mean hating Camilla. |
Crisco 1492 via Wikimedia Commons cc
But it had everything to do with heaping more criticism on Camilla and having an opportunity to bash her for past actions. Indeed, some people made statements sounding like this: "I'll feel sympathy for her when she apologizes for what she did to Diana." Others were more vile and cruel, but they all had the basic message of directly blaming Camilla for Diana's own tragic death in 1997, and some took it a step further by suggesting that this was some form of revenge.
Needless to say, such statements and claims of revenge are not going to bring Diana back, and they do nothing to help adjusting the idea that Camilla will be Queen of the United Kingdom.
I should say that I myself have come a long way in my personal views on Camilla. Like many people, I was hostile towards her, holding her responsible for the failure of the Charles-Diana marriage which led to the Paris car crash. But as time has gone on, I have gradually warmed up to her and believe that she will become Queen, and not the Princess Consort (as the Palace keeps insisting will be the case). She has now become fully integrated into the machinery of monarchy and has earned the respect and affection the people through her own brand of regal warmth and openness. She is not a replacement for Diana - no one can replace her, not even the Duchess of Cambridge - but she certainly coming into her own as an asset for the monarchy.
Probably more importantly, she has helped to provide some comfort and stability in Prince Charles's personal life after years of chaos which notoriously spilled out into the public realm. After nine years (and going), their marriage appears to be a successful and happy one, and one only needs to see them together to understand how well they get on with each other. They compliment and support each other, and on the day of Mark Shand's funeral, the Prince of Wales was seen being in full support of his wife in her moment of grief.
But there will always be people who will look upon Camilla unfavorably, and believe that she should not be Queen. There is not much that can be done about them, except for Camilla to continue to work hard at what she does as a member of the Royal family, and to do it well. And some of us simply need to move on and bury the past.
|The future King and Queen of Canada on their 2009 Royal tour of the country. |
Ibagli via Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)
In a few weeks time, Charles and Camilla will be head to Canada for a Royal tour, and will continue to earn themselves a place in the hearts and affections of people's across throughout Commonwealth.
As the Queen gradually hands more of the workload to Charles, he will need Camilla, and we will see more of both of them as time inches forward to his own accession.