Saturday, March 25News For London

What’s the difference between a Queen and Queen Consort?

Credit: Korona Lacasse (CC)

In celebration of her Platinum Jubilee, marking the first British monarch to reach 70 years on the throne, Queen Elizabeth wished that Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, would be the future Queen Consort when Prince Charles takes the throne in the future. 

When Prince Charles and Camilla got married in 2005, there was a lot of speculation over what title she would have when her husband became King. At the time of the wedding, Camilla stated that she did not want to be Queen but “intended” to be known as the country’s first Princess Consort. However, that idea was scrapped from the royal website in 2018. 

Charles and Camilla have a history of not being liked by the public after the world witnessed their relationship while he was still married to the late Princess Diana:  “There were three of us in this marriage,” she famously said in a TV interview. There is the question whether the public has changed their perspective on the royal couple, regardless, the Queen seemed to embrace them taking the throne once she is gone. 

Role of a Queen

A Queen inherits her position from birth. Queen Elizabeth, daughter of George VI, became Queen at the age of 25 after the passing of her father. For centuries, a male heir was always preferred and despite the line of succession, a son would become next in line for the throne despite a daughter being born first. The 2013 Succession to the Crown Act got rid of this idea, meaning that the line of succession would be decided by age and if they had any heirs. 

Credit: Demi Tsatsaronis

When did the idea of a Queen Consort begin? 

A Queen Consort is the wife of the ruling King. She holds no power but holds the social rank of a Queen. Since England and Scotland were unified in 1707, 10 women have held the title of Queen Consort. From 1727-1814, Kings and Queens were also known as Electors and Electresses of Hanover. In 1814, the name evolved to the King and Queen of Hanover. That title was scrapped when Queen Victoria ascended the throne in 1837.

Despite holding no power, Consorts tend to use their status to influence. They represent the crown in public affairs–like charity galas or Commonwealth tours. The Queen Mother accompanied King George VI on tours after WWII while she was a Queen Consort. 

Have there been male Consorts? 

Despite being born as a Prince of Greece and Denmark, the Duke of Edinburgh had to give up his title prior to marrying Elizabeth. In 1957, she gave him the title of Prince Philip. While there was never a reason given for the change, the Netflix series, The Crown, portrayed a theory that perhaps Prince Philip was uncomfortable with the fact that his wife had more power than him. 

When a Queen comes to power, her husband does not become King from the belief that a King usually has more power than a Queen. Husbands become Prince Consorts to the Queen and the title holds the same weight and duties as a Queen Consort. Only two other male Consorts have existed in the UK since 1707–Prince George of Denmark, husband to Queen Anne, never formally held Consort duties but Prince Albert, husband to Queen Victoria, also held the title. Victoria wanted him to be a King Consort but Prime Minister Lord Melbourne voted against it.