Following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, Camilla will now be referred to as Queen Consort.
The King paid tribute to the “steadfast devotion to duty” of his “darling wife” Camilla in his first address to the nation.
Charles, who became King on the death of his mother, the Queen, on Thursday, said it was “a time of change for my family” and spoke of how much he relied on his wife.
“I count on the loving help of my darling wife, Camilla,” he said.
“In recognition of her own loyal public service since our marriage 17 years ago, she becomes my Queen Consort.
“I know she will bring to the demands of her new role the steadfast devotion to duty on which I have come to rely so much.”
On the eve of her Platinum Jubilee in February 2022, the Queen had expressed her wish that the former Duchess of Cornwall assume the title when Charles ascended to the throne.
In a written message to the country and Commonwealth in time for Accession Day, Her Majesty moved to resolve the key question that has been hovering over Camilla since she married into the Royal family in 2005. The Queen expressed her “sincere wish” that her daughter-in-law should become “Queen Consort” when the time came.
The Queen said: “I remain eternally grateful for, and humbled by, the loyalty and affection that you continue to give me and 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.”
As such, Camilla will now be known to the public as Queen Camilla, and addressed as “Her Majesty”.
But what exactly does this mean, and why was her title ever in doubt? Here we explore everything you need to know.
What is the difference between Queen and Queen Consort?
The title of “Queen (Regnant)” is reserved for a monarch who reigns in her own right. “Queen Consort”, however, is the official title given to the wife of a monarch.
Having previously been given the Queen’s blessing, Camilla will be crowned side-by-side with her husband, with the couple henceforth called the “King and Queen”.
What are the duties of a Queen Consort?
The role of a Queen Consort is primarily to provide companionship to the monarch as well as moral and practical support during the sovereign’s programme of public engagements, such as hosting heads of state or attending charity balls.
Unlike the King or Queen Regnant, the consort does not hold a formal position in the structure of government, and thus, does not have set tasks and responsibilities.
In this case, it is likely that Camilla will continue many of her own existing roles and patronages, alongside aiding Charles in his role as King.
As the sovereign’s spouse, she will become a Counsellor of State: one of five members of the Royal Family who can carry out certain duties on behalf of the King when he is overseas or unwell. Duties include attending Privy Council meetings, signing routine documents and receiving the credentials of new ambassadors to the United Kingdom, with two counsellors of state given the authority to carry them out where necessary via Letters Patents issued by King Charles III.
Who else has had the title Queen Consort?
The style follows that of the Queen’s parents and grandparents, with the Queen Consorts of the 20th century known as Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mary and Queen Alexandra.
The last person to take the role of Queen Consort was Queen Elizabeth up until 1952 when her husband King George VI died and she became the Queen Mother as Elizabeth II became Queen Regnant in her own right.
Why didn’t Prince Philip have the title King Consort?
The title of King Consort is very rarely used as the monarchy does not have formal rules on the styling of the husband of a female monarch. As a result, King tends to only be used to refer to a male member of the Royal family who has inherited the throne directly.
Queen Victoria had wanted her husband, Albert, to be granted the title, but this was ruled out by the then Prime Minister. It was not until 1857 that Albert was formally recognised and awarded the title of Prince Consort.
Prince Philip, however, chose to reject this styling too in the early years of the Queen’s reign and so did not hold the title.
Why was Camilla’s title ever in doubt?
At the time of her marriage, aides had indicated that Camilla would be known only as “Princess Consort” when her husband one day became King as a concession to public opinion, in the same way she chooses to use her Duchess title rather than “Princess of Wales”.
But, in recent years, as public feeling towards the Duchess has become warmer, that promise was quietly shelved.
Many believed the question of her future title would not be resolved until the eventual death of the Queen, with the more cynical of royal-watchers predicting the palace would simply begin using the “Queen Consort” title in the hopes that the public would accept it.
Earlier this year, The Telegraph reported that the Duchess of Cornwall was on track to be accepted as “Queen” after she received her highest public approval rating in a decade.