In a message to mark the 70th anniversary of her accession to the throne, the Queen announced that her “sincere wish” was for Camilla to be Queen Consort when Prince Charles ascends the throne – but what does that actually mean?
When Camilla Parker Bowles became the Duchess of Cornwall in 2005, press from Clarence House made it crystal clear that she would be HRH The Princess Consort. It had been eight years since the death of Princess Diana and public perception of Camilla, who some held partially responsible for the breakup of the royal marriage, wasn’t as good as it is today.
After years of charitable work and campaigning, royal experts have advised the Queen that giving the duchess this new title of Queen Consort as part of her Platinum Jubilee celebrations will finally push her into the public favour.
What does Queen Consort mean?
“Queen Consort” is the title of the wife of a reigning monarch. As is customary, the Queen Consort shares her husband’s status and holds the female equivalent of many monarchical titles. So one of the changes that will happen when the Queen dies and Prince Charles becomes King is Camilla will be known as “Queen Camilla”.
She’ll also be crowned and anointed alongside Prince Charles at his coronation, although she won’t share the same political or military powers – many of which are under the role of the prime minister in modern times anyway.
When Prince Charles married Camilla in 2005, officials revealed that she would be Princess Consort when Charles was King. This was also the case for Prince Philip, the Queen’s late-husband, who was prince consort. However, while Camilla almost missed out on the title because of the public perception of the couple’s relationship after the death of Princess Diana, Prince Philip’s title was for a different reason. Prince Philip did not become King when he married Queen Elizabeth II. This was because of a rule where a man who married a queen would have the title of Prince Consort.
The Queen’s personal announcement of the Duchess of Cornwall’s new future role closely follows her announcement in January. Here she said that Camilla would also become a member of the Order of the Garter. As the highest order of chivalry, it’s a huge honour. And with this new title change, royal experts say it shows how Camilla has been included in the Firm. Duchess Camilla is also replacing Meghan Markle in one of her key roles following the young couple’s move across to the US.
“[The Queen] has clearly been thinking about the importance of a partner and a consort to her. She has just lost her own consort. And I think that’s a big factor in why we’re hearing it now,” historian Robert Lacey told the BBC. “They call it the Firm – and this really brings Camilla into the Firm properly.”
What’s the difference between Queen and Queen Consort?
Officially, Queen Consort is the title of a woman who is the wife of the reigning king. The title of “Queen” is for female monarchs who have ascended the throne when the monarch dies. As in the case of Queen Elizabeth II, who inherited the throne from her father.
However, when Prince Charles inherits the throne from Queen Elizabeth and becomes King Charles, Camilla will also be “Queen” after this recent announcement. Up until March 2020, many thought that she would have the title of “Princess”. Just as Prince Philip retained the title of “Prince”.
Will Camilla be queen mother?
It’s very unlikely that Camilla will be queen mother when Prince William takes the throne from Prince Charles. Queen Elizabeth, Queen Consort to King George VI and mother of Queen Elizabeth II, last had the title before her death in 2002 because she was the biological mother of the Queen. Princess Diana, who died in a car crash a year after her divorce from Prince Charles, was the biological mother of future king Prince William and his brother, Prince Harry.
The path to public acceptance hasn’t been a smooth one for Camilla. Especially as Prince Charles publicly admitted adultery in 1994. He said the relationship began after his marriage to Diana had broken down “irretrievably”. But many blamed Camilla for its ending. It’s even thought that Prince Charles has fears Prince Harry’s memoir will “publicly blame” Camilla for the event.
Previously to Prince Charles, Camilla married Andrew Parker Bowles. They had two children – Thomas and Laura – before dissolving the marriage in 1995.
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Charles and Camilla finally went public in 1999 after a careful PR campaign. They then had a civil marriage in 2005, where Camilla became Princess Consort.
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