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What’s the difference between queen consort and queen? Camilla’s title explained

After the death of Queen Elizabeth II and ascension of King Charles III, his wife, Camilla, received a new title: queen consort.
/ Source: TODAY

King Charles III will be coronated officially on May 6, and with that comes the coronation of his spouse, Camilla, the queen consort.

What, exactly, is a queen consort, one might ask? And how is it different from a queen? Fret not, we’re here to break it all down.

What is the difference between a queen and a queen consort?

In the monarchy system, a queen is a reigning female monarch whose rank, role and title are equivalent to the king.

As NBC royal commentator Daisy McAndrew puts it, a “queen consort is a woman who married a man who is king,” and a “queen is a woman who is born to be queen and is head of state — not the wife of a monarch.”

In the monarchy system, a queen is a reigning female monarch whose rank, role, and title are equivalent to the king.

The confusion is that colloquially queen consort just becomes “queen,” McAndrew explained in an email to TODAY. Camilla, it seems, intends to adopt that colloquial reference, as she was identified as “Queen Camilla” on Charles’ official coronation invitation.

As queen, Elizabeth II reigned over the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Her husband, the late Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, served as her consort from her accession to the throne in 1952 until his death in April 2021.

The official website of the British Royal Family defines a “consort” as a “companion to the Sovereign.”

Since Queen Elizabeth’s eldest is now King Charles III, Camilla is now a consort. She will hold the female equivalent of her husband’s titles, and upon her husband’s coronation, she will likely be crowned and anointed at his ceremony.

Camilla will not, however, share Charles’ politically neutral role as the United Kingdom’s head of state.

Why wasn’t Prince Philip a king consort?

Prince Philip never became a king consort. In the history of the British monarchy, the husband of a queen has only ever been a prince consort, never a king consort.

Can a consort become a queen?

No, a queen consort cannot become a queen. This is because while a queen consort title is acquired through marriage, the title and role of a reigning monarch can only be inherited. Typically this occurs when a sovereign abdicates the throne or passes away, as Queen Elizabeth did.

As the wife of a British monarch, Camilla will only ever be queen consort. Upon her husband Charles’ death, her title will be carried over to Kate, currently the Princess of Wales and wife of Prince William, the first in line to the British throne.

What is Camilla’s official title now that Charles is king?

According to Camilla’s biography page on the British royal family’s official website, she is Queen Consort of The United Kingdom.