Queen Consort Camilla axes centuries-old post of ladies-in-waiting in favour of a smaller number of staff to be ‘more with the times’

The Queen Consort is set to dispense with the centuries-old tradition of having ladies-in-waiting as part of her retinue.

Camilla, 75, thinks having a smaller number of staff is ‘more with the times’ – and her approach fits in better with the King’s vision for a leaner monarchy.

Instead, her existing staff will take on the traditional duties of the monarch’s official companions in what has been lightheartedly described as a ‘two for the price of one’ deal, the Daily Mail can reveal.

The late Queen had around seven devoted ladies-in-waiting – affectionately dubbed the head girls – at the time of her death, some of whom had been by her side for more than 60 years.

Camilla, 75, thinks having a smaller number of staff is ¿more with the times¿ ¿ and her approach fits in better with the King¿s vision for a leaner monarchy

Camilla, 75, thinks having a smaller number of staff is ‘more with the times’ – and her approach fits in better with the King’s vision for a leaner monarchy

They dealt with everything from public and personal correspondence and organising the royal diary to accompanying the monarch on engagements, collecting flowers and arranging private family events.

They were also loyal companions to the monarch and operated as her eyes and ears in the Palace.

The roles were unpaid and holders were almost always picked from the upper echelons of the aristocracy as there are few wealthy enough to be able to afford to take on such a demanding position simply out of loyalty to the Crown.

But with most of the existing holders of the roles due to retire, Camilla has decided to organise things ‘a little differently’.

One source explained: ‘When she got married and set up her own office for the first time she got two brilliant private secretaries, Amanda Macmanus and Joy Camm. But they were very much “two for the price of one”. Not only did they arrange all her engagements and projects, but they also acted as ladies-in-waiting if needed, accompanying her on official duties, collecting bouquets of flowers and the like.

The late Queen had around seven devoted ladies-in-waiting ¿ affectionately dubbed the head girls ¿ at the time of her death, some of whom had been by her side for more than 60 years. Pictured: Late Queen with her lady in waiting Mary Morrison

The late Queen had around seven devoted ladies-in-waiting – affectionately dubbed the head girls – at the time of her death, some of whom had been by her side for more than 60 years. Pictured: Late Queen with her lady in waiting Mary Morrison

‘No one stands on ceremony in her office, everyone mucks in.

‘The feeling is that although things have changed dramatically in many respects, she won’t take on an official line-up of ladies-in-waiting.’

Camilla currently has two loyal and extremely capable female private secretaries, Sophie Densham, and her deputy, Belinda Kim.

As well as organising Camilla’s diary and public engagements, they already accompany her on official visits and will continue to do the same at Buckingham Palace, sources say.

Camilla is a prolific writer –personally penning more than 2,000 letters last year alone.

She may take on some more staff to deal with the inevitable rise in correspondence she is likely to get.

But otherwise she will rely on her existing staff and occasionally rope in friends such as Jane Westenholz – a baroness and former model whom the Queen Consort apparently calls ‘Lofty’ – to help out where necessary.

The source explained: ‘The Queen Consort will do things a little differently. She currently has two private secretaries who do some of those traditional duties anyway.

‘And she has quite a lot of good and decent friends around her whom she can call on, as and when is necessary, to support her. I suspect she’ll dip into her close circle of friends, maybe geographically.

‘She has a lot of chums in London and Scotland, as well as in the country too. She thinks it’s more with the times.’

Historically, a lady-in-waiting was a female ‘personal assistant’ at court, often taken from the nobility, to serve a senior royal woman.

But with most of the existing holders of the roles due to retire, Camilla has decided to organise things ¿a little differently¿

But with most of the existing holders of the roles due to retire, Camilla has decided to organise things ‘a little differently’

The ladies’ tasks today are mainly administrative but, without a shadow of a doubt, they remain some of the most trusted, discreet and powerful figures at court – even though they don’t have the most prestigious job title, or earn a salary. Nowadays they are fairly modest in number but this was not always the case – Queen Elizabeth I had no fewer than 30 ladies-in-waiting.

Queen Elizabeth II’s ladies-in-waiting were led by Lady Susan Hussey, dubbed ‘number one head girl’. Lady Susan, 83, took charge on a day-to-day basis as the Woman of the Bedchamber and had been with the Queen since 1960, the year of Prince Andrew’s birth.

Others included The Honourable Mary Morrison, 85, who had a passion for horse racing, and the Duchess of Grafton.

All of the ladies-in-waiting were finely tuned to the Queen’s needs and moods.

Although elderly themselves, many had devotedly remained in post as they wanted to stay by the Queen until she passed.

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