Camilla crowned Independent’s most influential woman of the year 2023
The Queen Consort has been chosen as The Independent’s most influential woman of 2023 to coincide with International Women’s Day.
Camilla, who will sit alongside King Charles at his 6 May coronation, has been on a long journey from one of the most controversial women in Britain to her place at the heart of soft power.
On Wednesday, she is holding a Women of the World reception at Buckingham Palace where she is expected to say: “To me, they represent not only themselves and their own efforts, but also the millions of brilliant women who make a difference each day. Because, to steal a quote, ‘Behind every great woman… is another great woman’.”
The Independent’s Influence List 2023 highlights 50 women who excel in their fields, across politics, culture, sport, law, business, social media, health and the environment.
Among those named in the top 10 are:
:: Jill Scott - a leading figure of England’s triumphant Lionesses who charmed the country on I’m a Celebrity and is now breaking barriers in the coaching world as the first female to lead a top flight men’s youth team at Manchester City
:: Rachel Reeves – the Shadow Chancellor whose “seismic” influence continues to grow as Labour surges ahead of the Conservatives in the run up to the next general election
:: Bobbie Cheema Grubb – a leading High Court judge for 15 years who recently sprung to prominence when she sentenced Met Police officer and serial rapist David Carrick to 32 years in prison
Among those included in the list is Akshata Murty, the prime minister’s wife who reveals that her mother’s career inspired her to encourage more women into science.
Writing in her first ever article, she tells The Independent: “On this International Women’s Day, I look to my young daughters and hope they too are inspired by their grandmother to think about new frontiers to reimagine a world built on Stem (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) innovation and to pursue their own passions.”
Some of the names on the list are divisive but undeniably influential figures, as women were chosen for their impact in their sphere of influence.
Topping the list at the age of 75, the Queen Consort illustrates how women should never be written off after a certain age, with her busiest years yet to come.
Camilla endured prolonged personal attacks over her relationship with the King. Earlier this year, Prince Harry recycled the ‘wicked step-mother’ trope in his searing autobiography, Spare, to which she kept a dignified silence.
In recent years, she has grown in popularity as she increased her number of royal engagements and guided Charles’s thinking on topics such as streamlining the monarchy and how to respond to broadsides from Harry and wife Meghan.
Last month, Camilla intervened in the row over proposed changes to Roald Dahl’s books by giving a speech championing freedom of expression and the autonomy of authors. Within 24 hours, the decision to edit Dahl’s words was reversed, with original versions of the best-selling children’s novels now to be sold alongside the new editions.
Other notable names on The Independent’s influence list include artist Tracey Emin who has produced an original piece of acryllic on canvas artwork for International Women’s Day, entitled Marriage to Myself.
To mark the occasion, Emin - who has been open in discussing her bladder cancer - writes searingly about the pain and hardship of living with a stoma bag, and how disease has sapped her strength but not her creativity.
“I stare into the mirror a strong light from above illuminates every wrinkle and flaw, my body looks old,” she writes. “My bag looks giant today; I hate it but most days I’m philosophical knowing that it keeps me alive, but today I feel like it will drag me down to hell.”
Other women who have faced struggles of a different kind who appear on the list include Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 44, released from six years’ imprisonment in Iran a year ago. Rather than choosing a quiet life, Zaghari-Ratcliffe has continued to speak out about the plight of women in Iran, cutting her hair in solidarity with the women’s rights protests in the aftermath of the death of Mahsa Amini.
As well as campaigners, the list also singles out women who have been brilliantly successful in the world of business.
Karen Blackett not only manages the UK arm of global advertising giant WPP, she works alongside No10 as a race equality business champion and counts chancellor of the University of Portsmouth among her many achievements.
Comic Jordan Gray has proved a breakout star in the past year, nominated for the Edinburgh Comedy Awards in 2022, and made waves when she stripped naked on live television in a defiant celebration of trans bodies.
Setting out her own definition of what it means to be a woman, she writes: “A woman doesn’t define herself by what she’s not. A woman endures. A woman takes a licking and keeps on kicking.”