'Queen Consort' no more: Camilla will now be known as The Queen

Camilla Parker Bowles is officially set to be referred to as 'Queen' by Buckingham Palace, rather than 'Queen Consort.'

The change is likely to come after King Charles’s coronation on 6 May, according to well-placed sources.

It will set the seal on a remarkable transformation for Camilla in the nation's affections.
When she married the then Prince of Wales in a 2005 civil ceremony, it was widely assumed she would never be called Queen Camilla, even when her husband acceded to the throne.

This was because of her longstanding relationship with Prince Charles while he was married to Diana, who famously said in her Panorama interview: ‘There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.' Many saw Camilla as Princess Diana's nemesis, and she was especially heavily criticised after the Princess of Wales's untimely death in August 1997. A 2005 statement from Clarence House stated that Camilla would be known as 'Princess Consort'.
However, in the fullness of time, Camilla has turned the tide of public opinion, partly by raising awareness of issues such as domestic violence, illiteracy and sexual abuse via her charity work. The late Queen Elizabeth II's intervention in February last year when she called for her daughter-in-law to be known as ‘Queen Consort' was seen as a crucial show of support.

What are the duties of the Queen Consort?

The Queen Consort attends official engagements alongside the King, and is addressed as 'HRH - Her Royal Highness' - a privilege Diana famously lost upon her divorce. She is also a counsellor of state, as are Prince William, Prince Harry, Prince Andrew and Princess Beatrice - the first four in the British royal line of succession.

Now Buckingham Palace is set to go further, according to insiders.

The first sign of the new approach came last week when Camilla launched the ‘Queen's Reading Room' – without the ‘Consort' – when she updated the name of her charity, the Duchess of Cornwall's Reading Room.

It is thought that the Court Circular – the official register of Royal engagements - may also soon reflect the change.

A well-placed source said: ‘There's a view in the Palace that Queen Consort is cumbersome and it might be simpler for Camilla to be known just as the Queen when the time is right.

‘The Reading Room was a sign of that. Her Majesty is the Queen after all.

‘Prince Philip was Prince Consort officially, but he wasn't known as Prince Consort. The Queen would of course still be Queen Consort so the Palace of course wouldn't stop anyone calling Her Majesty that if they so chose.' Some news outlets, including The Times and The Telegraph, have already dropped ‘Consort' when writing about Camilla.

Buckingham Palace officials have been looking at precedent, including the titles used for the wife of King George VI, King Charles's grandfather.

As a non-reigning Queen - that is, the spouse of the reigning monarch, rather than the Queen Regnant (unlike her daughter Queen Elizabeth) - George VI's wife was technically Queen Consort but was known in public simply as Queen Elizabeth.
Similarly, when Queen Victoria died and was succeeded by her son Edward VII, his wife went from being known as the Princess of Wales to Queen Alexandra, without the use of the ‘Consort'. She was succeeded in 1910 by Queen Mary - formerly Mary of Teck - who was married to Edward's successor King George V. Camilla will be wearing a modified version of Queen Mary's crown (minus the famous Koh-i-Noor diamond) at the historic ceremony on 6 May.

It has been a long road for Camilla – and seemed unthinkable back in February 2005 when the engagement of Charles, then Prince of Wales, to Camilla Parker Bowles was announced.

A Palace statement said then: ‘It is intended that Mrs Parker Bowles should use the title HRH The Princess Consort when The Prince of Wales accedes to The Throne.' When Charles and Camilla married in April 2005, she did not take on the title of Princess of Wales, as it was so closely associated in the public consciousness with the late Princess Diana.

After years of speculation, it was the Queen's strong show of support last year which meant Camilla's title when Charles was King became clearer.

In an official statement released by Buckingham Palace on the 70th anniversary of her accession to the throne, Her late Majesty said: ‘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 official decree set down by Queen Elizabeth II ended years of speculation as to whether Camilla would ever be known as Queen.

It also overturned previous guidance issued by the Palace that Camilla would only ever be known as ‘Princess Consort'.

And now – almost 20 years on from marrying Charles – Camilla is a step closer to being known simply as ‘The Queen'.

She will be crowned at Westminster Abbey alongside the King on 6 May.
'This was largely resolved by the use of 'Queen Consort' to refer to the former Duchess of Cornwall. This wordy solution no longer seems necessary. 'Consort' is a description, not a title'.

‘While all previous wives of kings have been queens consort, none have been referred to as such.'

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