Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, attended the state opening of Britain's parliament alongside Queen Elizabeth yesterday, in a sign of the heir to the throne's increasing role as the 87-year-old monarch scales back her duties.
Their appearance came a day after Buckingham Palace announced that Charles, the Prince of Wales, will represent his mother at the next Commonwealth heads of government meeting, a gathering she has only missed once in four decades.
Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, accompanied her husband to the grand ceremonial opening of parliament for the first time in a sign of her own growing prominence in the royal family.
"Their Royal Highnesses' role is one of support," a spokeswoman for the couple's Clarence House residence said.
"The Prince of Wales often supports the queen on state occasions, and his and the duchess' diaries were clear on this occasion."
Camilla, 65, wore a tiara borrowed from the queen for the ceremony at Parliament in Westminster, central London, with a purple sash over her cream silk and lace gown.
Her 64-year-old husband, walking by her side, wore the uniform of Admiral of the Fleet, the highest rank in the navy.
In another signal of the couple's status, they travelled to parliament in the horse-drawn Glass Coach, which carried the prince and his first wife Diana to their wedding in 1981.
The royal couple sat by the monarch's side as she delivered the Queen's Speech, her annual statement to parliament.
Palace officials said the queen's decision not to attend the Commonwealth meeting in Sri Lanka in November is part of a gradual move to cut down her long-distance foreign trips and hand over more of her duties to younger royals.
"Charles and queen in royal jobshare," said the front page of the Daily Mail newspaper.
The Times ran an editorial praising the "diligence and flair" with which Charles has taken on increasing duties, but warned that the prince should also adopt her discretion as his time on the throne grows closer.
Charles is an outspoken campaigner for environmental protection and organic farming. He also detests most modern architecture, and was embarrassed when it emerged that he used his influence to persuade Qatari developers to drop plans for a development in London in 2009.