As the queen’s eldest son and heir to the throne, Prince Charles has now become king.
Plans for Charles to assume the role of monarch and head of state have been in place since his mother became queen in 1952.
But the question of his wife Camilla’s title was much less direct – and was only hushed up when Her Majesty herself said during her Platinum Jubilee that she wanted Camilla to be known as Queen Consort when Prince Charles became King. .
Carlo and Camilla get married
When Carlo and Camilla got married in 2005 – eight years after Lady Diana’s death – Camilla made it known that she intended to use the title “princess consort”. It would be the first in the history of the British monarchy.
The decision was seen as a recognition that audiences were finding it difficult to accept her new role, after years of media speculation about their relationship, the bitter divorce of Charles and Diana, and Diana’s death in 1997.
For the same reason, after marrying Charles, who at the time was Prince of Wales, she decided not to use the title of Princess of Wales, which had been used by Diana.
Instead, he chose the Duchess of Cornwall, defining himself on the other title of Charles the Duke of Cornwall, which is always given to the presumed heir.
Reflecting on the negative press she received at the time, in an interview with British Vogue, Camilla admitted that “it wasn’t easy”.
“I’ve been scrutinized for so long that you just have to find a way to live with it,” she said.
“Nobody likes to be watched all the time and, you know, criticized … but in the end I think I get over it and move on.”
The civil wedding ceremony caused problems
There were also legal issues at the time about the validity of the couple’s civil marriage, which could have added to the decision to opt for the princess consort.
Carlo and Camilla got married in a civil ceremony at the Windsor Guildhall. But according to the Marriage Acts of 1753, the only type of marriage valid for a member of the Royal Family is a religious one.
In 2005, the Lord Chancellor tried to defend the validity of their marriage, but Palace aides feared that breaking the precedent could mean more unwanted legal challenges than other titles in the future.
Princess consort or queen consort?
Under common law, the wives of kings are known as queen consorts, but the husbands of queens are only princes consorts.
As a result, the Duke of Edinburgh was known as Prince Philip and was not given the title of king when he married the queen.
The last queen consort in Britain was Queen Elizabeth, who was given the title at the time of her marriage to King George VI and kept it until her death in 1952 when she became known as Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.
Camilla becomes more popular
After the wedding, Camilla’s popularity began to grow, as did calls from her supporters to name her queen consort.
A YouGov poll conducted in late 2021 ranked her as the 10th most popular royal, beating Prince Andrew, whose popularity plummeted due to her association with convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein and princesses Beatrice and Eugenie.
Royal author Penny Junor said, “The problem with Camilla was that she was involved with the Prince of Wales and was what Diana famously called the third person in marriage.”
But she added, “When she married him, she was out and about and people met her. They realized she wasn’t really this horrible woman, a rottweiler, she was actually very pretty.”
“She’s funny, she’s warm, she’s friendly, she’s self-deprecating, she’s interested in other people.”
Royal observers also noted that she took more responsibility after Andrew, Harry and Meghan retired from royal duties.
It is long thought that Charles favored the title of queen consort. According to Sky News royal correspondent Rhiannon Mills, although the matter hadn’t occupied Charles’ mind “on a weekly basis”, it was still “something he wanted to address”.
The debate over Camilla’s title could also have served as an unwelcome distraction early in her reign, she adds.
The queen’s jubilee declaration ends years of uncertainty
In February 2022, as her Platinum Jubilee celebrations began, the queen surprised the nation by announcing that Camilla would be known as queen consort when Charles ascended the throne.
He said in a statement: “When, in the fullness of time, my son Charles becomes king, I know that you will give him and his wife Camilla the same support you have given me; and it is my sincere hope that, when the the moment, Camilla will be known as the queen consort as she continues her loyal service. “
This effectively put an end to nearly two decades of uncertainty about Camilla’s position within the royal family.
It also served as a way to thank Camilla for years of royal duty – and as a recognition that the public had loved her at the time.
Rhiannon Mills commented: “The Queen clearly wanted to take advantage of this opportunity to thank Camilla who in the last 17 years has rolled up her sleeves, embraced the sometimes less glamorous royal commitments and in the eyes of Her Majesty she has shown herself a worthy future consort. , in the mold of Prince Philip and the Queen Mother “.
What will its role be?
Camilla has taken on a number of causes in recent years, such as raising awareness of domestic violence, sexual abuse or illiteracy.
But royal observers said his main role would be to support the new king.
“She is to Charles what Prince Philip was to Elizabeth. She is not competing with him. She is only there to support him,” said Ms. Junor, the royal author.
In her 2022 British Vogue interview, Camilla said that balancing her marriage to Charles with their actual work “isn’t easy sometimes”, but the couple always make sure to “sit down together and have a cup of tea and discuss. of the day”.
Constitutional expert Craig Prescott described it as Charles’s “secret, or not-so-secret weapon.”
She said: “She has become something of one of the most interesting members of the royal family, taking an interest in causes, domestic violence, the importance of child reading, the importance of live theater during the pandemic and the need to speak on behalf. of the creative industries “.
“Despite the difficulties she had in the 1990s with the media, she seems very open, very relaxed – and this could actually be the model that the monarchy will take in the future.”
Sir Peter Westmacott, Prince Charles’s former deputy private secretary, also noted the strong bond in the royal couple.
“She’s made such a difference in his life all this time. He loves her and vice versa,” she said.
“This is an invaluable collaboration.”