During a reception at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday, Camilla, Queen Consort brought together three Queens from around the world and Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska to raise awareness about violence against women and girls.
The Queen Consort was joined by Queen Rania of Jordan, Crown Princess Mary of Denmark and Queen Mathilde of Belgium in the Music Room at Buckingham Palace where the royals posed for photographs before Camilla took to the podium to give her most important speech yet in her new role.
“We are uniting today to confront, rightly, what has rightly been called a global pandemic of violence against women. Faced with such challenges, it can be hard to know what practical steps we can take to even begin to make a difference,” she said, elegant in a cream frock coat and wearing her reading glasses. “Over the years, in my previous role, I had the privilege of meeting many survivors of rape and domestic abuse; and of sharing in the sorrow of people who had lost family members to violence. And again and again, I heard that two of the most powerful ways in which to help were to remember and to listen.”
Among the VIPs in attendance were Home Secretary Suella Braverman and Health Secretary Steve Barclay, domestic violence campaigner Spice Girl Mel B and the First Lady of Sierra Leone Fatima Bio as well as Sophie, Countess of Wessex. Some 300 guests, including representatives from the Queen Consort’s charities were also at the event which coincided with the United Nations’ 16 days of activism against gender-based violence.
Also present were many survivors of violence, and the Queen Consort made a point of naming some of the women who tragically did not survive. “We remember those women who have lost their lives at the hands of a stranger, or of the person who should have loved them best. In so doing, we refuse to be desensitized by cold facts and figures and we resolve to keep the names and the memories of these women alive.”
The issue of domestic violence, which affects one in three women globally, is one Camilla is passionate about. She is now the most high-profile woman in the world raising awareness about what she said Tuesday was “vital work.”
Zelenska has been highly supportive of the Queen Consort’s work and speaking at the reception via a translator said, “It means a lot to be here. We now face a huge amount of rapes of Ukrainian women and children by Russian soldiers. This afternoon I will have the honour to speak in front of the Parliament of the UK. The youngest victim of rape (in Ukraine) is four and eldest is 85. When the efforts of the democratic world unite to combat challenges like this, it always gives hope that we will win.”
The Queen Consort also invited a number of women who have lent their support to the cause including Commonwealth Secretary-General Baroness Patricia Scotland who she met with, TV presenter Lorraine Kelly, presenter Fiona Bruce, reality TV star Zara McDermott, who has spoken about her efforts to end “revenge porn” and radio presenter Emma Barnett.
The Queen Consort has been working with charities supporting women including SafeLives, Women’s Aid and Refuge for over ten years and is committed to breaking down the stigma around the issue and victims of rape, assault and domestic violence.
Speaking to Vanity Fair, SafeLives CEO Suzanne Jacob said they were honored to have Camilla’s support and that her global spotlight has made violence against women a headline issue rather than a stigma. “There is a positive choice that the Queen Consort is making in bringing these people together and having this conversation. She wants to put this at the centre of the leadership she shows, not just in this country but around the world. This has put rocket boosters underneath this issue. There are many survivors in this room and she wants to listen to them and hear their stories. She is giving them a voice. We know that an event like this today will get worldwide attention so it’s a privilege to have her work with us. I am hugely appreciative.”