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Camilla at the Wirral Credit Union in Tranmere, Britain on Apr. 4 (Rex Features /AP Images)

Queen Elizabeth has given the Duchess of Cornwall a new title to mark the seventh anniversary of her marriage to Prince Charles.

Camilla is becoming a Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order. The honor is given by the Queen to individuals who have served the monarchy in a direct way, and, unlike most other titles, is given solely at the discretion of the ruling sovereign, rather than through recommendations from government ministers.

The Queen’s decision to bestow the honorific on Camilla is being viewed as more than a symbolic gesture.

The Daily Mail reported that “some royal observers say they would have expected Camilla to receive the honor before now.”

So palace watchers are seeing it a sign of Camilla’s full acceptance as a member of the royal family, after years of awkwardness leading up to and following Charles’ divorce from his first wife, Diana.

“The second marriage for Charles,” writes Time’s Tim Newcomb, “put the monarchy in a conundrum of what title to give Camilla, still not referred to as Princess of Wales out of respect for Diana.”

The announcement of the new title, says Newcomb, acknowledges that the 64-year-old duchess has won her way into the hearts of the royal family and the public.

“As Charles’s second wife,” BBC correspondent Fiona Trott commented, “the duchess’s involvement in royal engagements was gradual. But now, she’s often seen at the Queen’s side.”

Other senior female royals with the title of Grand Dame include Princess Anne, the Countess of Wessex and the Duchess of Gloucester.

“It’s likely that Camilla’s award,” said the BBC’s Trott, “is in recognition of her many royal engagements at home and abroad over the past seven years and is an indication of her importance within the Royal family.”

Some say it’s more than just a recognition of the past but an indication of what is to come.

“The debate about whether Prince Charles’s wife Camilla will ever be Queen has been dramatically revived today,” writes Tom Sykes in The Daily BeastSykes says that the “very public” endorsement of Camilla appears “to indicate that the Queen believes Camilla may yet be accepted as queen by the British people upon Charles’s accession to the throne.”

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By Paul Hechinger