Headcanon: After the events in Lady Knight, Kel continues to work alongside the Own for many of her assignments. Raoul brings her in often and consults her for opinions and strategies. When Raoul announces his retirement, Kel is the only one who doesn’t realize that she has clearly been groomed for the job of Knight Commander (the few daydreams of following in Raoul’s footsteps having been quickly squashed down knowing how much the conservatives would disapprove). Thus she is shocked when she is appointed commander. She accepts gracefully, however, and one of her first orders of business is allowing women to join the Own.
There is surprisingly little muttering that goes on in conservative circles, not unrelated to the fact that Lord Wyldon is heard actively endorsing the choice.