Camilla's title explained: Is she the Queen or Queen Consort?

DUNFERMLINE, SCOTLAND - OCTOBER 03: King Charles III and Camilla, Queen Consort, waves as they leave Dunfermline Abbey, after a visit to mark its 950th anniversary, and after attending a meeting at the City Chambers in Dunfermline where the King formally marked the conferral of city status on the former town on October 3, 2022 in Dunfermline, Scotland.  (Photo by Andrew Milligan - Pool/Getty Images)
King Charles and Camilla, Queen Consort wave as they leave Dunfermline Abbey, 3/10/2022. (Getty Images).

For a long time, it didn't seem certain — or even likely — that Camilla would ever be called Queen.

Now Charles has acceded to the throne, Camilla's official title is Queen Consort. This is the usual title assigned to the female spouse of the monarch.

However, The Times newspaper have decided to stop referring to her as Camilla, Queen Consort, and instead call her Queen Camilla, or simply 'the Queen.'

Jack Blackburn — the publication's History Correspondent and Deputy-Diary Editor — wrote on Twitter that writers at the publication "have been instructed to drop the term Queen Consort" because historically "no Queen has ever had that in their style."

Blackburn embellished on the decision, writing in a second tweet that the palace uses Queen Consort when referring to Camilla and that The Times and the palace "are simply having a disagreement over style."

Britain's Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall arrives to attend the Christmas Day morning church service at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, Berkshire on December 25, 2021. (Photo by Ian Vogler / POOL / AFP) (Photo by IAN VOGLER/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Camilla - then Duchess of Cornwall arriving at the Christmas Day church service at St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle, 2021. (Getty Images)

Queen Alexandra, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, were the last three Queen Consorts before Camilla.

Though their titles were Queen Consort, they were simply referred to as Queen or Queen Empress while their husbands reigned.

However, Camilla's history with royal titles is far more controversial and complicated than her predecessors.

Britain's King Charles III (L) and Britain's Camilla, Queen Consort hold a pen as they sign a visitors' bok after attending an official council meeting at the City Chambers in Dunfermline, to formally mark the conferral of city status on the former town, in Dunfermline in south east Scotland on October 3, 2022. (Photo by Andrew Milligan / POOL / AFP) (Photo by ANDREW MILLIGAN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Charles and Camilla holding a pen to sign a visitors book in Dunfermline, 3/10/2022. (Getty Images)

Duchess of Cornwall

Upon her marriage to Charles in 2005, Camilla - née Parker Bowles - took the title of Duchess of Cornwall. The Duke of Cornwall was another title that belonged to Charles while he was Prince of Wales.

Now this title has passed to his son, William, and along with it the Duchy of Cornwall which is worth £1 billion and contains over 128,000 acres of land.

Camilla opted to be known as the Duchess of Cornwall after her marriage — rather than the Princess of Wales title she was also entitled to — out of respect to Diana, the last person to hold that title.

Some 25 years after her death, Diana is still beloved by much of the public and it wouldn't have been good optics if Camilla had appeared to try and replace Diana by using her title.

At the time of Diana's death, Camilla was deeply unpopular with many members of the public: it had been hard for her to shake the reputation of being the 'other woman'.

Lady Diana Spencer and Camilla Parker-Bowles at Ludlow Races where Prince Charles is competing, 1980. (Photo by Express Newspapers/Archive Photos)
Lady Diana Spencer and Camilla Parker-Bowles at Ludlow Races where Prince Charles is competing in 1980. (Photo by Express Newspapers/Archive Photos)

Princess Consort

Initially, it was suggested by Clarence House that Camilla would, when the time came, use the title of Princess Consort.

This was an unprecedented move, that showed the Royal Households knew that they had to be very careful not to push the public to accept Camilla. However, the concept of a Prince Consort was a very familiar one, with the Duke of Edinburgh serving in that position for 69 years.

The matter was further complicated by the fact that as King, Charles is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, and Christian orthodoxy does not accept divorce.

WINDSOR, ENGLAND - APRIL 9: HRH the Prince of Wales, Prince Charles, and The Duchess Of Cornwall, Camilla Parker Bowles in silk dress by Robinson Valentine and head-dress by Philip Treacy, leave the Service of Prayer and Dedication blessing their marriage at Windsor Castle on April 9, 2005 in Berkshire, England. (Photo by Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)
Charles and his future Queen Consort after the service to bless their marriage in Windsor Castle, 2022. (Getty Images)

Queen Consort

Earlier this year, Queen Elizabeth made her feelings on the matter of Camilla's title clear.

In a statement marking the Platinum Jubilee, the late Queen said: "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."

This seemed to show how doggedly Camilla had worked to be accepted and fulfil her duties as Duchess of Cornwall and that her commitment had been noted and been taken seriously by the Queen.

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 29:  (L-R)  C Queen Elizabeth II and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall exit the Royal Wedding of Prince William to Catherine Middleton at Westminster Abbey on April 29, 2011 in London, England.  The marriage of the second in line to the British throne is to be led by the Archbishop of Canterbury and will be attended by 1900 guests, including foreign Royal family members and heads of state.  Thousands of well-wishers from around the world have also flocked to London to witness the spectacle and pageantry of the Royal Wedding.  (Photo by Ian Gavan/GP/Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth and Camilla at William and Kate's wedding in April, 2011 at Westminster Abbey (Getty Images)

It seems likely that the Palace will continue to refer to Camilla as the Queen Consort for the foreseeable, whether or not the press do.

While the mourning period for Queen Elizabeth II is officially over, she will remain for most of the public the only Queen in their mind for quite some time.

Strategically, this is the sensible thing to do, given the long term controversies that have surrounded Camilla's titles. According to the latest YouGov polls, she still only enjoys a 40% approval rating, so it would be better to take the more cautious route and let her be accepted as Queen Camilla, slowly but surely in the fullness of time.