The concept of a “maid of honor” has existed in European history since the Middle Ages to support queens, including dressing and bathing them. Once paid servants, the role shifted amid the changed belief that only people of stature should associate closely with a monarch associated with divinity.
Some official and perhaps dated titles have also been largely upheld over the centuries, including the lady-in-waiting title of “Woman of the Bedchamber,” which helped the queen dress, and that of “Lady of the Robes,” in charge of taking care of the queen’s wardrobe and jewelry. The different roles, all honorary, are part of a hierarchy that served the day-to-day life of the queen.
During her 70-year reign, Queen Elizabeth II had her own ever-changing list of roughly half a dozen trusted bridesmaids. On her way to the April 2021 funeral of her husband, Prince Philip, Elizabeth sat next to Lady Susan Hussey, perhaps her most loyal lady-in-waiting.
During six decades in the role, he picked flowers, accompanied the queen to social events and watched television with her. She was Elizabeth’s confidante and godmother to Prince William, affectionately known around the palace as the Queen’s “Number One Laureate.” Hussey’s husband, Marmaduke Hussey, was portrayed in the final season of The crown as Chairman of the BBC Board of Governors.
The role of bridesmaid was not paid. It was awarded to aristocrats wealthy enough that they did not need to work.
Camilla’s new queen’s companions include close and long-standing friends, according to the list provided by the palace: “The Marchioness of Lansdowne (Fiona), Mrs. von Westenholz (Jane), the Honorable Dame Brooke (Katharine), the Mrs. Peter Troughton (Sarah), [and] Mrs. Sarah Keswick.
The queen consort will also have a new full-time groom: Major Ollie Plunket of The Rifles, the palace said. An equerry is traditionally a military officer who acts as a royal attendant.
Queen Elizabeth’s remaining ladies-in-waiting will stay behind and help Charles organize events at Buckingham Palace. They will now be called “ladies of the house,” the Palace said.
The new king reportedly wants to reduce the size of the monarchy by reducing the size of its staff, as well as the number of palaces and castles.