Home Somerset county The controversy that surrounded Camilla using the Queen title

The controversy that surrounded Camilla using the Queen title


Eleven years ago, when the Duchess of Cornwall visited a children’s center in Wiltshire, an eight-year-old asked her: “Are you going to be queen one day?”

But now we do. The Queen used her Platinum Jubilee message to the nation to express her wish for Queen Camilla to be crowned bride alongside the Prince of Wales when the time comes.

The Duchess of Cornwall (Peter Cziborra/PA)

There was fierce debate and controversy in the run-up to Charles and Camilla’s wedding 17 years ago over whether then Mrs Parker Bowles would ever be queen.

A king’s wife automatically becomes queen consort and only a change in legislation will prevent her from doing so.

Royal aides insisted when she married Charles that Camilla did not want to be queen and originally said she ‘intended’ to be known instead as princess consort – the first in British history – when Charles came to the throne.

Charles and Camilla's wedding day
The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall after blessing their church on their wedding day (Reuters/PA)

But the careful use of the verb “intend” left that open to change in the future.

All mention of “Princess Consort” was removed from Charles’ website during a 2018 redesign.

At the time of the couple’s royal wedding, the prince’s advisers argued that Camilla would simply choose not to call herself queen and be known as the princess consort.

But the government and other experts have said that unless the law changes, Camilla will still legally become queen when Charles becomes king, no matter what she chooses to call herself.

A lot has changed in the years since Charles – who aides once said he had no plans to remarry – married his former mistress.

Camille Parker Bowles
Camilla Parker Bowles at Smith’s Lawn, Windsor in 1992 – when Charles was still married to Diana (PA)

Camilla has been blamed for the breakdown of the prince’s marriage to Diana, Princess of Wales – and when news of their affair first emerged she faced vitriolic criticism.

But in the decades since the Welshmen’s divorce, Diana’s untimely death in 1997 and Camilla’s acceptance into The Firm, the public mood towards the former Mrs. Parker Bowles has softened.

Camilla gradually took on a more prominent position within the Royal Family, ranging from driving beside the Queen on her Diamond Jubilee carriage procession to attending the official opening of Parliament.

The Queen and Camilla
The Queen and Duchess of Cornwall side by side in a horse-drawn carriage to Buckingham Palace during Diamond Jubilee celebrations (David Jones/PA)

She was appointed Privy Councilor in 2016 ahead of the Queen’s official 90th birthday, meaning she will be at Charles’ side when he is officially proclaimed monarch on the Membership Council.

Through charity work championing literacy and highlighting the issue of domestic violence and sexual abuse, Camilla has carved out her own royal role.

She has also become a favorite on the royal press kit for her cheerful nature and easy-going approach to royal engagements.

In 2010, when Charles was put on the spot and asked if Camilla would be his queen in an interview, he replied: “It’s, it’s, we’ll see, right? It could be.”

Camilla campaigns against sexual violence
Camilla speaks with rape survivor Mia James, who helped inspire her personal crusade against sexual violence (John Stillwell/PA)

Charles’ official biographer Jonathan Dimbleby told the BBC’s Panorama program in 2005 that people might one day want Camilla to be queen.

But he also warned that questions remained about his future role, including what would happen if the prince died first.

“We have seen massive shifts in public opinion, from her, Camilla, being seen as the other woman, to now being seen as a very attractive wife who makes the prince happy, who appears in public, who is graceful, who joins — in a crowd, who communicates very effectively,” Dimbleby said.

Dressed for a state banquet
Charles and Camilla arrive at Buckingham Palace to attend a state banquet in 2005 (Andrew Parsons/PA)

Women married to a monarch have always been crowned queen consort.

This was the case for George VI’s wife, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, and for George V’s wife, Queen Mary, the Queen’s grandmother.

The exception was Queen Mary II who, with her husband King William III, was co-sovereign from 1689 to 1694.

The queen mother
Queen Elizabeth (later the Queen Mother) was crowned at the coronation of her husband George VI (PA)

The royal website used to state: “A queen consort is crowned by the king, in a similar but simpler ceremony.”

But following Charles’ marriage to Camilla, he added the exit clause “unless otherwise decided”.

Queen Victoria’s husband Albert was made Prince Consort some 17 years after they married. He worked diligently to win the affection of the public after suffering initial hostility.

Victoria had wanted him to be king consort when they married, but then Prime Minister Lord Melbourne ruled him out.

The Duke of Edinburgh did not hold the title of Prince Consort, having rejected the offer in the early years of the Queen’s reign.

Men married to a British monarch have never been crowned at their wives’ coronation and do not become kings.