The Queen is the first British monarch in history to celebrate a platinum jubilee as she used her momentous milestone to issue her royal seal of approval to 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 the Queen Consort when the Prince of Wales becomes king.
Reaching her 70th year on the throne, Elizabeth II in the twilight years of her reign realized her hopes for her daughter-in-law, once a royal mistress and now to be called Queen and crowned alongside Charles on his coronation day.
The Queen, who acceded to the throne aged just 25, is spending her accession day privately at the Sandringham estate in memory of her father George VI, whose death marked the beginning of her reign.
This anniversary poignantly marks her first without her beloved 73-year-old husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, who died just 10 months ago.
A special four-day Bank Holiday weekend from June 2-5 will see national celebrations of the Queen’s record-breaking service on the throne.
The Queen used the rarest of anniversaries to put her affairs in order on a public platform and end years of controversy over Camilla’s title.
Sharing her legacy to her eldest son as monarch, she called on the nation to support the couple in their future roles as king and queen.
The Queen and Duchess of Cornwall during the royal procession at Ascot in 2019 (Jonathan Brady/PA)
The Queen, 95, said in the written message to the nation: “I would like to say thank you to all of you for your support. I remain eternally grateful and humbled for the loyalty and affection you continue to show me.
“And when the time comes, my son Charles becomes king, I know you will give him and his wife Camilla the same support that you gave me. and it is my sincere wish that when that time comes, Camilla will be known as the Queen Consort while she carries on her own faithful ministry.”
Charles and Camilla were “touched and honored” by the Queen’s gesture, Clarence House said.
The prince will make his own public statement on Sunday to celebrate his mother’s anniversary.
The Duchess of Cornwall and the Prince of Wales as they await the Queen’s speech at the State Opening of Parliament 2016 (Justin Tallis/PA)
The Queen’s reign has stretched from the post-war years through a new millennium to a radically changed 21st century.
It has served as a symbol of stability as the world has changed in myriad social, cultural, political and technological ways over the past few decades.
Her time on the throne has seen 14 prime ministers, from World War II leader Sir Winston Churchill to current Prime Minister 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.
The Queen shortly after becoming monarch in 1952 (PA)
Former BBC royal correspondent Peter Hunt described the Queen’s message as “extremely extraordinary”.
“The Queen is ensuring that the transition to her son as King is as seamless and hassle-free as possible,” he said
“She is future-proofing an institution she has served for 70 years. And for Camilla, the journey from third person in marriage to lady-in-waiting is complete.”
The Jubilee is the Queen’s first without the Duke of Edinburgh (Image: Bruce Adams/Daily Mail/PA)
The Queen, who acceded to the throne on February 6, 1952, also renewed her lifetime vows of engagement, despite approaching her 96th birthday that year.
“On this anniversary, I am pleased to renew to you the promise I made in 1947 that my life will always be dedicated to your service,” she said.
She paid tribute to Philip for his sacrifices as consort, thanked her family for their support and referred to the Queen Mother’s role as Queen Consort, as Camilla will do.
Charles and Camilla have been married for almost 17 years (Victoria Jones/PA)
Camilla would technically have been queen when Charles took the throne and only legislation would have prevented that.
However, when she married Charles in 2005, royal aides insisted that Camilla did not want to be queen, originally saying that former wife Parker Bowles “intended” to be known as the Princess Consort – the first in British history – instead.
But the careful use of the verb “intend” left this open to future changes.
All mention of “Princess Consort” was removed from Charles’ website during a 2018 overhaul.
A lot has changed in the years since Charles married his longtime love.
Camilla was blamed for the breakdown of the prince’s marriage to Diana, Princess of Wales, and when news of their affair first broke, she faced harsh criticism.
It meant the decision was made for her to become the Duchess of Cornwall through marriage, rather than controversially becoming the new Princess of Wales.
Now, in a major about-face, the Duchess will be crowned alongside the Prince at his coronation when the time comes.
On the eve of her anniversary, the Queen was in “sparkling” form as she laughed and joked at a reception at Sandringham House.
The Queen with her jubilee cake to celebrate the platinum jubilee (Joe Giddens/PA)
The head of state cut an anniversary cake, met members of the local women’s institute and chatted with former cooking student Angela Wood, who helped perfect the famous coronation chicken dish invented for her coronation.
Beaming with joy throughout, the Queen wore a blue Angela Kelly Wedgwood crepe with a white brocade dress and used a wooden walking stick to rest, also carrying her signature black handbag.
In her message, the Queen also commemorated the sad anniversary of her father’s death.
Amid the pandemic, she said she hopes the anniversary will “bring families and friends, neighbors and communities together – after some difficult times for so many of us”.
The Queen, who signed her words “Your servant Elizabeth R”, vowed to continue to “serve you with all my heart”.