What Camilla Parker Bowles’s Title of Queen Consort Means Now That Charles Is King
Camilla Parker Bowles has a new title now that King Charles III reigns. Here's what it is, and what the title actually means.
Change is in the air for the royal family now that King Charles III has taken the throne following Queen Elizabeth’s death on Sept. 8. Prince William, for instance, is now first in line to the throne and has a new title: Prince of Wales. He’s not the only royal to get a new title, though—Camilla Parker Bowles, King Charles’s wife of 17 years, also has a new title: queen consort. In fact, she will officially be crowned queen consort during King Charles’s coronation at Westminster Abbey on May 6. Camilla will be the first queen consort crowned in nearly 90 years—the last was Queen Elizabeth, the queen mother (wife of King George VI and mother of Queen Elizabeth II), back in 1937.
What exactly does the title of queen consort mean, though? Thousands were curious to know, since the title is now one of 2022’s Merriam Webster’s words of the year. Read on to learn what that title entails—and what the title change means for Camilla.
What is Camilla’s title now that Charles is king?
Now that Charles is king, Camilla’s official title is queen consort rather than Duchess of Cornwall. A queen consort is also addressed as a queen, meaning Camilla will be known as Queen Camilla. While the title of queen consort was instantly given to her when Queen Elizabeth passed, it wasn’t always guaranteed to her.
When Charles and Camilla married in 2005, the royal family assured the British public that Camilla would not become queen, but rather princess consort. This seemed to appease the public, which held lingering resentment about Camilla’s role in the demise of Princess Diana’s marriage to Charles. However, in early February 2022, Queen Elizabeth used the occasion of her Accession Day message to state publicly—and quite clearly—that she wanted Camilla to have the queen consort title once Charles became king.
What is a consort?
The consort’s role is to provide companionship and support to the British monarch, both “moral and practical,” according to the website of the royal family. Although the royal website is silent as to whether, to be the consort, the companion must also be the monarch’s spouse, in reality, no British monarch has ever had a consort to whom they were not married. Further, no British monarch’s spouse has ever not been a consort. Prince Philip, for instance, was prince consort to Queen Elizabeth up until his death in April 2021.
What is the difference between a queen and a queen consort?
Even with the word queen modifying consort, the queen consort has none of the powers of a hereditary monarch; whereas a queen is Britain’s head of state, the queen consort is merely an honorific title.
For example, unlike a queen, a queen consort has no formal role in the British government and is not privy to state matters. That means she doesn’t hold audiences with the prime minister, and her relationships with world leaders are solely social and diplomatic.
Will Camilla’s duties differ now that she’s queen consort?
It’s not immediately clear if Camilla will take on any new official duties or responsibilities as queen consort. It is worth noting, however, that as Duchess of Cornwall, she publicly supported Charles, then Prince of Wales, and made appearances at notable events. So, she’s essentially performed the duties of a queen consort over the past 17 years.
Additional reporting by Kelly Kuehn.