Queen Camilla got 2024 underway last week, by completing her first engagement of the year. She continued to champion a cause that she has promoted for a number of years – supporting survivors and families of domestic violence.
The visit came a day after Buckingham Palace announced that The King will make a visit to hospital for a surgical procedure to deal with an enlarged prostate.
Her Majesty visited Aberdeen Art Galley to open its new ‘Safe Space’. The facilities will be able to provide support to those who are suffering from domestic abuse or suspect someone may be living in an abusive environment.
Queen Camilla met those who have been trained to help man the new facilities in the ‘Art of Empowerment’ Gallery. Her Majesty also met Shelagh Swanson, the individual who created the artwork inspired by her own experience as a survivor of domestic abuse. The art is visible both internally and externally of the gallery to signify to those who need support that the venue as a safe space location.
During the visit, The Queen also met representatives from SafeLives Scotland, who discussed lived experiences. The charity is working with organisations including as Aberdeen City Council to help transform the response to domestic abuse by providing training, awareness and research to staff. Camilla became Patron of the UK charity, SafeLives in 2020.
Speaking at the opening, Camilla said: ‘It’s so important having a safe space for people who have undergone all these terrible things. Somewhere where they come and feel safe and have somebody to talk to who understands what they’re going through, so I think you’re pioneers to have it in this wonderful gallery which I’ve had the pleasure of visiting before and, just to say, it helps so much with this campaign to hopefully one day obliterate this terrible domestic abuse.’
She had hoped that ‘a lot of other cities will follow suit’ in providing a safe space for those experiencing domestic violence and added that initiatives like these just ‘need more people to get involved and more people to be heard because the more it’s talked about the more people are able to do something about it’.
Head of SafeLives Scotland Jess Denniff said: ‘We know that when survivors of abuse feel listened to, seen and believed, it helps unravel some of the harm and trauma caused by perpetrators who tell them that they don’t matter, that nobody cares about them, that nobody will believe them.
‘With her visit today, Her Majesty is making it clear that this is not true: anybody who lives with an experience of domestic abuse does matter and is an expert in their own situation. In Scotland, the brilliant Authentic Voice Panel prove this, in their ongoing, determined work to ensure that survivor voice is at the heart of Scotland’s response to domestic abuse.
‘As a wider team, we were delighted today to see the opening of this welcoming and reflective space in the heart of Aberdeen, and to meet Her Majesty The Queen. Domestic abuse is everyone’s business, and we must work together to ensure victims have as many options as possible to reach safety and live the lives they want after harm has happened – as well as opportunities to contribute their lived experience towards change.’
Queen Camilla has been a huge advocate for raising awareness around domestic violence and violence against women.
In June 2022, 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 Royal also gave a speech at the Shameless! Festival, where she paid tribute to the women whose lives have been ‘brutally ended’ and ‘endured unimaginable torment’ at the hands of abusers.