Queen Elizabeth to Camilla Parker Bowles: You’re in the Club

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Queen Elizabeth answered a lingering, somewhat indiscreet question hovering over the British throne just in time for the commencement of her Platinum Jubilee: When Prince Charles becomes king, his wife, Camilla Parker Bowles, should have the title of Queen Consort, the queen said, putting an end to years of speculation.

The news was signaled by the queen herself in a statement released late Saturday, the eve of the 70th anniversary of Accession Day. (One presumes this was after she was photographed at Sandringham House stabbing a cake and chatting up the creator of Coronation Chicken.)

The queen’s statement read that it was her “sincere wish that, when the time comes, Camilla will be known as Queen Consort as she continues her own loyal service.” A spokesperson for Clarence House, the home of Charles and Camilla, said they were “touched and honoured.”

Camilla and Charles were married in 2005 after a lengthy and controversial relationship. (Indeed, they were seeing one another when Charles was still married to Princess Diana, and the late mother of Prince William and Prince Harry was reportedly not a fan.) At the time of the wedding, it was decided that Camilla would not have the same title as Diana, Princess of Wales. Instead, she was given the title Duchess of Cornwall. (If you look at a map, you’ll see that Wales and Cornwall are close as the crow flies but separated by a barrier of water.)

Royal watchers have speculated about what Camilla’s title would be when Queen Elizabeth eventually departs this realm for the next one. For years, the official word was that Camilla would be known as Princess Consort. But those who keep their eye on this sort of thing may have caught hints of change when, on New Year’s Eve, the queen appointed Camilla as a Royal Lady of the Order of the Garter, the highest honor in the British honors system.

What’s the difference between Princess Consort and Queen Consort? A Queen Consort is the title for a woman married to a monarch, as was Queen Elizabeth’s mother (also named Elizabeth) when she was married to King George VI. Princess Consorts, generally, are those married to a prince. Given the unusual circumstances of Camilla’s marriage to Charles (and the fact that many in the British public have a vehement dislike of her, though that may be thawing), she was expected to be known as Princess Consort as recently as March 2020, official statements suggest. She would have been the first such Princess Consort in British History. (Yes, Prince Philip was not called King Philip, but for different reasons.)

Anyway, the queen, now 70 years on the throne with only two more years and 110 days needed to catch up to King Louis XIV of France, has made her wishes known, and that’s that. She’s got other things to do as she kicks off her Diamond Jubilee, a celebration that will last for months, and which includes a number of bank holidays in summer, the Trooping the Color Birthday Parade, the Cazoo Derby at Epson Downs, and, most importantly, the Platinum Pudding Competition. God save the queen!

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