The world got a glimpse of the end of an era and the start of a new one on Monday as King Charles III and Camilla, Queen Consort, took to their thrones for the first time. For 70 years, Queen Elizabeth had been at the helm and now, the next generation of royals is in power.
The couple sat on the thrones in Westminster Hall in front of 900 members of Parliament and the House of Lords as the legislators offered their sympathies in the wake of Queen Elizabeth’s death on Sept. 8. Charles noted the significant moment, sharing, “I cannot help but feel the weight of history, which surrounds us.” He also noted his mother’s legacy and his wishes to follow in her footsteps. “While very young, her late Majesty pledged herself to serve her country and her people and to maintain the precious principles of constitutional government which lie at the heart of our nation. This vow, she kept with unsurpassed devotion. She set an example of selfless duty which with God’s help and your counsels I am resolved faithfully to follow.”
While the moment is tremendous, it still feels a bit tone deaf given Charles’ reported wishes to modernize the monarchy. Sitting on thrones before a legislative body doesn’t feel very contemporary — it feels steeped in tradition which has a very complicated history, starting with colonialism. Social media users even noted how awkward part of the ceremony felt. One Twitter account wrote, “Seeing King Charles III and Camilla in that palace in Edinburgh surrounded by Scottish soldiers in battle dress was very Game of Thrones-esque.” Another social media user shared how complicated the couple’s history is, given that it started as an affair, “Can anyone tell me how I can be an adult and deal with accepting Camilla as Queen Consort? Seeing her sitting on a throne set my teeth on edge. It can’t be changed, she’s been King Charles‘s wife for 17 years now. But I just want her to be invisible and silent.”
One day, William and Kate, the Prince and Princess of Wales, will sit on those thrones — or will they decide that it feels like an out-of-touch element to their royal titles? How Charles and Camilla handle their reign will be carefully watched, especially since he’s the bridge between the past and the present.