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Will Camilla become a queen when Prince Charles ascends the throne?

The Duchess of Cornwall's next role has now been defined by Queen Elizabeth II.
/ Source: TODAY

Queen Elizabeth II is 95 and the longest-serving monarch Britain has ever had. She's a pillar in the country, but she won't always be on the throne. In time, she'll be succeeded by her eldest son, Charles, the Prince of Wales.

But what does this mean for Charles’ wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall? This year, the queen made her stance clear: She does in fact want Camilla to be queen.

Trooping The Colour 2019
From left: Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles and Queen Elizabeth II in June 2019 in London. Max Mumby / Getty Images

Camilla will become queen consort

In February, during a message to mark the 70th anniversary of her accession to the throne, Queen Elizabeth determined that Camilla will be a queen consort when Charles takes the throne.

"This anniversary also affords me a time to reflect on the goodwill shown to me by people of all nationalities, faiths and ages in this country and around the world over these years," she said in a statement. "I would like to express my thanks to you all for your support. I remain eternally grateful for, and humbled by, the loyalty and affection that you continue to give me. And 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."

The Prince Of Wales And Duchess Of Cornwall Visit Egypt - Day 1
Charles, the Prince of Wales, and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, in front of the Sphinx outside Cairo in 2021. Peter Nicholls / Getty Images

Camilla wasn't always set to become a queen

Camilla is Charles' second wife; he was famously married to Diana, Princess of Wales, from 1981 to 1996, when they divorced. Diana died in a car crash in 1997. Charles and Camilla had known one another prior to his first marriage (she was married at the time) and carried on a romance for decades after he tied the knot.

But just because Camilla is married to the future King of England, she wasn't guaranteed to be given the title of queen.

Back in 2005, when Charles and Camilla wed, the Prince of Wales' website indicated that Camilla would become "princess consort," not queen, if Charles ascended the throne, according to Suzannah Lipscombe, emeritus professor of history at the University of Roehampton, who spoke to TODAY.

For example, she noted, Prince Albert was prince consort to Queen Victoria. But that title was not granted to Queen Elizabeth's husband, Prince Philip, and there's never been a princess consort. That's because, "in common law, the wife of a king becomes a queen," says Lipscombe.

Over the years, Camilla has gained Queen Elizabeth's trust, something publicly acknowledged when she was appointed to the Order of the Garter in late 2021, the highest honor the monarchy can bestow, notes Kristin Contino, chief reporter at Royal Central and author of "A House Full of Windsor."

“Camilla certainly has come a long way in terms of public favor since the Diana days,” Contino told TODAY. “It’s also been said that Charles would prefer her to be known as his queen, which is understandable.”

Royal Family-To-Be
This photo from 1981 shows Prince Charles and his Lady Diana Spencer, then his fiancée, with Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace in London.Fox Photos / Getty Images

Charles and Diana's offspring are well settled: Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, is next in line to the throne, followed by William’s children. William’s younger brother, Harry, the Duke of Sussex, is sixth in the line of succession to the throne.

Could Camilla's children from her first marriage receive royal titles?

Camilla and Charles have no children together, but she has two grown children from her first marriage to Andrew Parker Bowles: Tom Parker Bowles and Laura Lopes. Will they be elevated in some way by being related to a princess consort/king's consort/queen?

Not likely, says Contino. "Tom, who is a well-known food critic and cookbook author, does help with Camilla’s Reading Room project, and Laura’s daughter Eliza was a bridesmaid in the (William and Catherine) wedding. But other than that, we don’t see the Parker Bowles family out too often at royal events. Aside from attending the coronation or possibly some other big royal celebrations, I can’t see them changing that or Charles giving them titles."

Additional reporting by Helena Skinner.