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

·2-min read
camilla the king's wife wearing a crown and waving from the back of a car
The difference between a Queen and a Queen ConsortMax Mumby/Indigo - Getty Images

Over the years there has been plenty of speculation as to what Camilla Parker-Bowles' title might become when her husband, King Charles III, ascended the throne – and since that's now happened, following the death of Queen Elizabeth II last September, we've already seen a few variations being used by the Palace: both Queen and Queen Consort. But what's actually the difference between a 'Queen' and a 'Queen Consort'? And which is it that Camilla should be formally recognised as?

Let's take a deep dive...

What is the difference between a Queen and a Queen Consort?

Although the two royal titles sound pretty similar (and fancy, in equal measure), there's actually a big difference between the duties performed by each and the power that they hold – along with the ways in which they are obtained.

Essentially, a Queen is somebody who is a ruling monarch in her own right and a consort is the female spouse of the male monarch.

A Queen Consort will typically enjoy the same social rank and status as her husband, and may also be crowned and anointed (spoiler: Camilla is set to be) but unless she is formally acting as a regent, on behalf of the King, the Queen Consort does not share the same political or military powers.

Queen Elizabeth II and Queen Victoria are both well-known examples of famous queens throughout British history, who were simply known as just 'The Queen' rather than being queen consorts. Interestingly enough though, the male equivalent – a King Consort – is an often disputed and rarely used title (neither Prince Philip or Prince Albert, for example, were ever known as 'The King Consort').

Why is Camilla the Queen Consort?

Because Camilla is not going to be making her way onto a throne as the reigning monarch herself, and has instead gained her position of power as the wife of a King, she will be known as The Queen Consort. If King Charles III passes away before her, she will no longer hold the title.

Confusingly though, although she is the Queen Consort by definition of being married to the King, Camilla has also already been referred to simply as 'Queen Camilla' by the Palace, the first time being on the invitations sent out for the coronation itself. So actually, it looks as though she'll maybe be using both titles going forward (at least in certain capacities, such as invites). Either way though, her official title is 100% 'Camilla, the Queen Consort'.

Accompanying a post on the Royal Family's Instagram account showing the coronation invite (wherein she was referred to simply as 'Queen Camilla'), the caption did continue to address Camilla as 'The Queen Consort':

Happy coronation, one and all!

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