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Panorama
When is a Queen a Queen?
Prince Philip
Prince Philip isn't called King - despite marrying a monarch

Why does the wife of the King become Queen?

Unlike some other aspects of the constitution on royal marriages, we were unable to find any statute that says this is necessarily the case.

Prince Philip is not known as King. But the wife of the King is traditionally known as Queen - or Queen consort.

One former courtier told Panorama: "The reason the King's wife is Queen but not vice versa is simply precedent and Common Law. It may not seem very modern but it's just like the tradition that women take their husband's name - so the King's wife is Mrs King (in other words Queen Consort), but the Queen's husband isn't Mrs Queen - in other words he doesn't become King Consort."

In 1936 Prime Minister Baldwin was adamant - telling both the King and Parliament "The wife of the King is Queen." It's known Baldwin took legal advice, and in the Public Records Office we found what appears to be the original legal opinion.

Duchess

It's on notepaper franked as "Treasury Solicitor" and says "The status of the wife of the King and his issue can only be altered by legislation" - in other words the "Morganatic Act" which Baldwin refused to pass.

The Royal Website says 'a Queen consort is crowned with the King, in a similar but simpler ceremony'.

But this seems not to be necessary for the King's wife to become Queen: George IV's wife Caroline was Queen Caroline even though he had her locked out of the coronation ceremony.

There have been suggestions that if Charles becomes King and marries Mrs Parker Bowles, that she could simply be known by another title - the Duchess of Cornwall maybe.

Legislation

But there could be both post-modern and traditional problems with this solution.

Professor Stephen Haseler says, "The newspapers are going to call her Queen Camilla. She's going to be known as Queen Camilla, and that's much more important in the modern media dominated world"

Former Cabinet Secretary Lord Armstrong added, "She would still be the Queen, no matter what she was called. Unless you had legislation to say that she was not."


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 VOTE RESULTS
Would you support a Queen Camilla?

Yes
 21.11% 

No
 75.67% 

Don't Know
 3.22% 

2425 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

Links to more Panorama stories are at the foot of the page.


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