In a message released Saturday marking the 70th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth becoming monarch, the Queen, 95, said that “when, in the fullness of time, my son Charles becomes King, I know you will give him and his wife Camilla the same support that you have given me; and it is my sincere wish that, when that time comes, Camilla will be known as Queen Consort as she continues her own loyal service.”
The traditional title for a reigning monarch’s wife is “Queen Consort.” The title “Queen” is reserved for female rulers who succeeded to the throne through the line of succession, such as Queen Elizabeth II, who succeeded to the throne when her father, King George VI, died.
Although the titles are slightly different, Camilla will almost certainly be referred to as Queen Camilla, just as Queen Elizabeth’s mother was before the death of King George VI and she became known as “The Queen Mother,” largely to avoid confusion with her daughter who shares the same first name.
The question as to whether Camilla would one day be titled Queen Consort had been highly speculated for years even though a press release that was shared on the day of Camilla’s 2005 engagement to Prince Charles said, “It is intended that Mrs. Parker Bowles should use the title HRH The Princess Consort when The Prince of Wales accedes to The Throne.”
Because of their affair during Prince Charles’ marriage to Princess Diana and Camilla’s marriage to her first husband, Andrew Parker Bowles, the couple’s wedding was controversial. Camilla’s divorced status also played a role in the announcement that she would likely be referred to as “Princess Consort” rather than “Queen Consort” in the future.
Camilla adopted the title Duchess of Cornwall rather than Princess of Wales, as is usual for the wife of the Prince of Wales. It was Princess Diana’s title, and Kate Middleton will most likely inherit it when Prince William becomes the Prince of Wales as the immediate heir.
Just last year, Camilla’s son Tom Parker-Bowles told The Times, “I honestly don’t know if Mum will be called a queen. That hasn’t been decided. There are a lot of interesting Sky documentaries about that I’m sure, but I honestly don’t know if that’s true.”
When it comes to the husbands of female monarchs, however, the rules are very different.
After marrying the future queen, Prince Philip surrendered his title as Prince of Greece and Denmark to become Duke of Edinburgh. And when her father died and she ascended to the throne, Prince Philip did not become a “King” or “King Consort” — the proper title for the husband of a ruling monarch is “Prince Consort.”
The title of “King” is only given to a male who inherits the throne and reigns as a monarch.