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Camilla Parker Bowles has been married to the heir to the throne Prince Charles for 15 years now, and their relationship seems to have gone from strength to strength. In the knowledge that Prince Charles will one day become King, the Duchess of Cornwall will sit alongside her husband. But unfortunately, she will also fall prey to the same fate as her predecessor Prince Philip when it comes to a royal title.
Technically, as the wife of the Prince of Wales, Camilla’s title would be Princess of Wales, but Camilla reportedly declined this out of respect for Diana, Princess of Wales.
Because late Princess Diana was so widely known as the Princess of Wales when she was married to Charles, it would have been too controversial to make her the new Princess of Wales, a title that Diana has taken with her despite her divorce and untimely death.
But how will Camilla’s title change when her husband eventually becomes king?
Before the couple wed at Windsor Guildhall back in 2005, Clarence House announced, “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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However, the customary title for the wife of a reigning king is actually queen consort.
Royal precedent is such that the wives of Kings become Queen consorts, but the husbands of Queens do not receive the title of King.
So, Prince Philip is a Prince and a Duke, but not a King.
Considering this, Princess Consort is essentially a title created just for Camilla – while Prince Philip is also a Prince Consort to the Queen, this is not the case for female partners to a monarch.
Again, giving her too high a title could be seen a disrespecting the late Diana, a public relations problem the Royal Family doesn’t need.
Although there’s been some confusion through the years about whether that will remain Camilla’s future title, Clarence House confirmed in a statement in March 2020.
“The intention is for the duchess to be known as princess consort when the prince accedes to the throne,” a spokesperson for the royal couple told The Times.
“This was announced at the time of the marriage and there has been absolutely no change at all.”
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However, some royal commentators disagree, believing Prince Charles will display the upper hand when he finally accedes to the throne.
Sally Bedell Smith, author of Prince Charles: The Passions and the Paradoxes of an Improbable Life, said: “Most of the constitutional experts agree that by common law and tradition she is entitled to be Queen.
“It was obviously fudged when they got married. Diana was uppermost in many peoples’ minds.
“So they concocted the notion of a Princess Consort which is made up,’ she told People magazine.
“[Charles and Camilla] obviously have worked very hard to have her accepted and she has been accepted.”
“If she were anything less than Queen Consort it would imply inferiority on her part.”
Prince Philip supposedly had issues with simply being the husband of the monarch, which was well documented in Netflix’s The Crown.
According to a biography of Elizabeth by Sally Bedell Smith, the Prince said at the time: “I am the only man in the country not allowed to give his name to his children,” referencing how their children used the Windsor surname, which has now been changed to Mountbatten Windsor to reflect both parents.
Ten years after Queen Elizabeth II was crowned, she decreed via letters patent that her husband was to become Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.
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