Why Camilla Won’t Get To Be Queen Once Prince Charles Becomes King

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·3 min read
Why Camilla Won’t Get To Be Queen Once Prince Charles Becomes King
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Time to grab a strong cup of tea and dive into the complicated, slightly unhinged, and ALWAYS dramatic world of royal titles. Today’s edition? Will Camilla Parker Bowles, aka Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, be Queen of England once her husband, Prince Charles, becomes king? Answer: Probably not…but also maybe? It’s honestly a whole thing, so let’s break it down.

The Precedent for King/Queen Titles Is…Complicated

If you recall, Queen Elizabeth’s late husband, Prince Philip, was not king. He was a prince—I mean, it’s right there in the title! Why? Because, per CBS, Philip was never in line to the English throne. In fact, the Queen had to make a whole letters patent (basically, a royal law) just to make Philip a prince of the United Kingdom, and the palace released the following statement:

“The Queen has been pleased by Letters Patent under the Great Seal of the Realm bearing date 22nd February, 1957, to give and grant unto His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, K.G., K.T., G.B.E., the style and titular dignity of a Prince of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Whitehall.”

So looks like Camilla could take a leaf out of Philip’s book and become Princess Camilla once Charles is king. However…

Camilla *Could* Become Queen if She Wanted To

Consider this lady:

Photo credit: Tim Graham - Getty Images
Photo credit: Tim Graham - Getty Images

That’s Queen Elizabeth’s mother, aka King George VI’s wife, aka the queen consort. This is a super-common title for the spouse of a ruling king, and if Camilla did become queen consort, she’d be crowned at the same time Prince Charles is crowned king. As the royal website puts it:

“Unless decided otherwise, a Queen consort is crowned with the King, in a similar but simpler ceremony. If the new Sovereign is a Queen, her consort is not crowned or anointed at the coronation ceremony.”

But let’s dive deeper into that “unless decided otherwise” line, shall we? ’Cause, um…

But Camilla Wants to Be “Princess Consort” Instead

Back when Charles and Camilla married in 2005, the couple issued a statement saying she planned to “use the title HRH the Princess Consort when the Prince of Wales accedes to the throne.” And then in March 2020, reps for the couple reiterated this to The Times, saying, “The intention is for the duchess to be known as princess consort when the prince accedes to the throne. This was announced at the time of the marriage and there has been absolutely no change at all.”

Photo credit: Chris Jackson - Getty Images
Photo credit: Chris Jackson - Getty Images

So, why princess consort and not queen consort? Apparently, this decision was made partly out of respect to Princess Diana—which is also why Camilla doesn’t use “Princess of Wales” and instead goes by “Duchess of Cornwall.”

As royal expert Marlene Koenig told Town & Country, when she married Prince Charles, “Camilla was not popular or well liked, [although] this has changed a lot since the marriage as Camilla has taken on a lot of patronages and Charles is a lot happier. Still, [there was] a lot of tension and anger among a certain element of the population—so it was decided that Camilla would be styled as the Duchess of Cornwall, even though, of course, she is the Princess of Wales.”

Here’s the thing though. Constitutional Affairs Minister Christopher Leslie implied all the way back in 2005 that it doesn’t really matter if Charles and Camilla want Camilla to become princess consort because “this is absolutely unequivocal that she automatically becomes queen when he becomes king.”

So…guess we’ll see what happens!

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