The Queen Consort used her first solo engagement in her new royal title to meet domestic abuse workers and survivors. Camilla met people who had used the domestic abuse service at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, as well as independent domestic violence advisers and other staff in the field at the hospital on Thursday. During the visit, Camilla met Shana Begum and her three-week-old son Jeremy.
Ms Begum has used her personal experience of abuse to serve as a “pioneer” worker for the domestic abuse charity SafeLives, and Camilla said it was “really nice to hear such a positive story” after Ms Begum told her that her life was now “very different”.
Camilla told Ms Begum she was “doing a wonderful job” and it was “very important” to have people with experience of abuse involved in support services.
Ms Begum, who previously met Camilla at another domestic abuse campaign, said: “We met in Manchester when I was expecting the baby and it’s really lovely for the Queen to see the baby three weeks in.
“She’s always been really down to earth and an amazing patron for SafeLives.”
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Zainab Al-Shariff, an independent domestic violence advocate from the Al-Hasaniya Moroccan women’s centre, said Camilla mentioned in their conversation “the stigma back in the day” that used to be attached to domestic abuse.
Ms Al-Shariff said it was “an honour” that Camilla had chosen to make this her first solo engagement as Queen Consort, adding: “It’s inspirational to know that someone from the royal family has taken a real interest in domestic abuse.”
Suzanne Jacob, chief executive of SafeLives, said the visit would mean “a huge amount to survivors of domestic abuse and people who are still in abusive relationships up and down the country and around the world”.
Ms Jacob added: “People watch these royal visits so carefully and take a lot of symbolism from them and making a choice like that is an extraordinary vote of confidence in how she feels about those individuals and the need for them to be safe.”
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Isabel Boyer, chair of SafeLives, said Camilla had always spoken with “an acknowledgement of how widespread domestic abuse is in society” and that her involvement with the charity had made “a huge difference in terms of publicity”.
Chelsea and Westminster Hospital has a domestic abuse model which involves close partnership with specialist agencies Standing Together, Victim Support and Galop to provide a coordinated community response.
Camilla will be crowned Queen in a ceremony alongside her husband, King Charles III, on May 6. As it was announced by Buckingham Palace this week, the 75-year-old will be anointed with holy oil before she takes her place on a throne next to Charles.
The coronation will take place in Westminster Abbey, eight months after the monarch’s accession and the death of Queen Elizabeth II.