Camilla Is Now Queen Consort — But What's the Difference Between Queen Consort and Queen?

Queen Elizabeth confirmed earlier this year that she wants Camilla to be known as Queen when her son Charles takes the throne

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall is now "Queen Consort" after her husband became King Charles III upon the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth, on Thursday. But what's the difference between a Queen and a Queen Consort?

In a message released marking the 70th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth becoming monarch back in February, the Queen said that "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."

"Queen Consort" is the traditional title for the wife of a reigning monarch. The title of "Queen" is reserved only for female rulers who became monarch through the line of succession, such as Queen Elizabeth II, who became monarch when her father King George VI died.

The Duchess Of Cornwall Decorates The Clarence House Christmas Tree
Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. Ian Vogler - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Although the titles are slightly different, it's likely that Camilla will be commonly styled as Queen Camilla, just like Queen Elizabeth's mother was before the death of King George VI and she became known as "The Queen Mother," largely to avoid confusion with her daughter who shares the same first name.

<a href="https://people.com/tag/prince-charles/" data-inlink="true">Prince Charles</a>, Prince of Wales, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, <a href="https://people.com/tag/queen-elizabeth/" data-inlink="true">Queen Elizabeth</a> II, <a href="https://people.com/tag/prince-william/" data-inlink="true">Prince William</a>, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge arrive for a drinks reception for <a href="https://people.com/tag/queen-elizabeth/" data-inlink="true">Queen Elizabeth</a> II and G7 leaders at The Eden Project during the G7 Summit on June 11, 2021 in St Austell, Cornwall, England
Prince Charles, Camilla, Queen Elizabeth, Prince William and Kate Middleton. Jack Hill - WPA Pool / Getty

The question as to whether Camilla would one day be titled Queen Consort had been highly speculated for years even though a press release that was shared on the day of Camilla's 2005 engagement to Prince Charles said, "It is intended that Mrs. Parker Bowles should use the title HRH The Princess Consort when The Prince of Wales accedes to The Throne."

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The couple's wedding was controversial due to their affair during Prince Charles' marriage to Princess Diana and Camilla's marriage to her first husband, Andrew Parker Bowles. Camilla's status as a divorced woman also played a role in the announcement that she would likely be known as "Princess Consort" rather than "Queen Consort" in the future.

Similarly, Camilla took the title of Duchess of Cornwall rather than Princess of Wales, which is the usual title for the wife of the Prince of Wales. It was Princess Diana's title and will likely be given to Kate Middleton as Prince William becomes the Prince of Wales as his father's immediate heir.

Royals Eden Project
Kate Middleton, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and Queen Elizabeth. OLI SCARFF/POOL/AFP via Getty

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Just last year, Camilla's son Tom Parker-Bowles told The Times, "I honestly don't know if Mum will be called queen. That hasn't been decided. There are a lot of interesting Sky documentaries about that I'm sure, but I honestly don't know if that's true."

However, there is a very different title rule when it comes to the husbands of female monarchs.

<a href="https://people.com/tag/queen-elizabeth/" data-inlink="true">Queen Elizabeth</a> II looks on as HRH <a href="https://people.com/tag/prince-philip/" data-inlink="true">Prince Philip</a>
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. Indigo/Getty

After marrying the future queen, Prince Philip dropped his title as Prince of Greece and Denmark to become the Duke of Edinburgh. And when she ascended to the throne with the death of her father, Prince Philip did not become a "King" or "King Consort" — instead, the proper title for the husband of a ruling monarch is "Prince Consort."

The title of "King" is only given to a male who inherits the throne and reigns as monarch.

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