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Sex. Celebrity. Politics. With Teeth

Camilla Rebrands Ladies-in-Waiting to 'Queen's Companions'

It's being billed as a modernization move, but the roles seem fairly similar to me, an American who has watched a lot of The Crown.

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Image for article titled Camilla Rebrands Ladies-in-Waiting to 'Queen's Companions'
Photo: CHRIS JACKSON/POOL/AFP (Getty Images)

In an attempt to really shake up the monarchy, Camilla, the queen consort, will no longer having ladies-in-waiting, who functionally served as personal assistants to Queen Elizabeth, her late mother-in-law. Instead, Camilla will have “queen’s companions”—a modern, “honorary” role, the BBC reports.

Are you confused? Does this “change” sound merely like a rebrand, rather than anything substantive? You’re forgiven, because the roles are remarkably similar. Camilla’s “companions” won’t get salaries; nor did Elizabeth’s ladies-in-waiting. But Camilla’s appointees will be much less involved in her daily, private life than traditional ladies-in-waiting, and will assist her largely while she is fulfilling her public duties representing the Firm.

The first women to take this new-but-not-really post are, of course, Camilla’s friends: the Marchioness of Lansdowne, Jane von Westenholz (bless you), Lady Katharine Brooke, Sarah Troughton, Lady Sarah Keswick, and Baroness Chisholm. Though I’d bet my meager life savings that this is already an exceedingly wealthy group, their expenses will be paid.

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Elizabeth’s ladies-in-waiting had additional titles like Mistress of the Robes—which required managing the queen’s outfits and the schedule for the entirety of the ladies-in-waiting team—and Women of the Bedchamber, who helped her dress and bathe, which made sense in Ye Olde Times, when bathing required slightly more effort than turning the shower knob and waiting for it to get hot, but does not make sense now.

Perhaps this is what’s so ridiculous to me: the fact that something as archaic as lady-in-waiting existed this year, until the queen died. As the BBC points out, this role has been a part of court life since the Middle Ages. Four hundred years ago, Anne Boleyn’s ladies-in-waiting were helping her avoid execution (or leading her to it, as the case may be). Meanwhile, Queen Elizabeth prized her ladies in waiting for their “companionship, discretion and loyalty,” according to Hello, which I take to mean hunting down whoever leaked something to the Daily Mail, or organizing the queen’s schedule so she could spend time with her favorite son, alleged predator Prince Andrew.

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In the twenty-first century, those confidential logistical duties can simply be accomplished by personal assistants, like any other super-rich person, rather than ladies-in-waiting. But don’t worry; though Camilla has rebranded those roles, she still won’t have to learn how to use Google Calendar. She’s already hired an equerry (that’s British for “personal assistant”) named—no I did not make this up by going to British Name Generator dot com—Ollie Plunket.

It’s hilarious that this is the section of the monarchy they’re making a show of modernizing. The queen consort wants her friends to be less obligated to hang out? That’s the Windsors’ squeaky wheel?? I mean sure, I’d rather Camilla just have friends over for tea or gin without needing to call them ladies-in-waiting... But if I were her, and had seen what she’s seen, the concept of ladies-in-waiting would not even be close to my top 10 list of things that should be reformed.