Camilla’s first solo engagement as Queen focuses on domestic violence

The Queen is continuing her work in this sensitive area

Earlier this year when interviewed by British Vogue, Camilla vowed to continue her work in raising awareness of domestic violence and supporting its victims, when she became Queen Consort. 

On Thursday, The Queen Consort kept that vow as she carried out her first solo public engagement since her husband, King Charles III, came to the throne following the Queen’s death in September.

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Camilla visited the maternity unit at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, which acts as a key hub for women experiencing domestic abuse. She met independent domestic violence advisors and frontline staff, who respond to domestic violence cases.

The Queen had the chance to talk to Divisional Director of Nursing and Midwifery Vicki Cochrane, the Trust Domestic Abuse Lead Dr. Charlotte Cohen, the IDVA team, the Domestic Abuse Coordinator and other personnel.

In another ward, the Royal was introduced to staff from the emergency department, children’s services, legal services, the burns unit and the nursing team. She said: ‘It’s so nice to see everyone working together’. 

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During the visit, Camilla met Shana Begum and her three-week-old son Jeremy. Her Majesty had previously met Shana at another domestic abuse campaign in Manchester.

Ms Begum told The Queen Consort how she has used her personal experience of abuse to serve as a ‘pioneer’ worker for the domestic abuse charity SafeLives. Camilla replied that it was ‘really nice to hear such a positive story’.

Her Majesty told Shana she was ‘doing a wonderful job’ and that it was ‘very important’ to have people with experience of abuse involved in such support services.

Camilla was also seen cooing over baby Jeremy and asked the new mother of ‘he always sleep this well?’

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Shana replied: ‘Not at night!’ She also told The Queen Consort how she had three older children aged 18, nine and seven, to which Her Majesty jokingly replied ‘Four?! Is he your last? Life has changed and you have got him to prove it.’

Camilla also privately spent time with those who have used the service at the London hospital.

After meeting staff, experts and volunteers who are working together across different departments to help identify and support survivors, Camilla told them: ‘I had no idea how it all worked, it’s totally incredible. I’m so thrilled to have come.’

Speaking about the importance of selecting the issue of domestic violence as her first engagement as Queen Consort, Suzanne Jacob, CEO of SafeLives, said: ‘I think that’s an incredible statement of intent, I really do, we don’t underestimate that. So many pressures, so many choices, so many things that people will be asking her to engage in, but she’s made this a priority.’

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When talking about Camilla’s approach to the role as Patron, she added: ‘For anybody who’s experienced domestic abuse, they can tell the difference between somebody who’s talking to them because it’s a thing they’re supposed to do and somebody who’s talking to them because they really, really want to hear and understand what their experience has been.

‘And all the survivors have relayed back to us what their experience has been in meeting Her Majesty is that second element, which is really feeling like she understood, like she was hearing me. People who met her more than once said she remembered all the parts of my story and were very touched by the fact that she’s taken that to heart on an individual level as well as looking at it as this big national issue.’

In June this year, the then-Duchess of Cornwall gave a speech at a Violence Against Women and Girls event at the Kigali Convention Centre, where she took the opportunity to call for action and ‘solutions’ from Commonwealth nations to tackle domestic violence and sexual violence against women and girls.

Her Majesty has been an advocate for preventing and addressing the issue of sexual violence and harassment for a number of years. In 2017, she partnered with Boots to create wash bags for victims of sexual violence who undergo medical examinations as part of process of forensic investigation. She has also spoken out about the taboo of domestic abuse, saying it is ‘everyone’s issue’.

The 75-year-old gave a speech at the Shameless! Festival last year, where she paid tribute to the women whose lives have been ‘brutally ended’ and ‘endured unimaginable torment’ at the hands of abusers.

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