What does Queen Consort mean? Camilla's new title explained

Camilla is now Queen Consort following the death of Queen Elizabeth II and Charles becoming the new King

What does queen consort mean? The answer revealed; seen here are King Charles III and Camilla, Queen Consort arriving at Buckingham Palace
(Image credit: Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage via Getty)

Camilla has become the UK’s new Queen Consort in line with the late Queen Elizabeth II’s “sincere wish” she expressed earlier in 2022. 

Following the sad announcement from Buckingham Palace that Queen Elizabeth II has died aged 96 at Balmoral Castle, the new King and Queen Consort have now arrived in London to lead the country in mourning. The official statement referred to Charles and Camilla by their prestigious new titles and King Charles expressed the “greatest sadness” at the loss of his remarkable mother. Now, as people gather outside several royal residences and the Royal Family grieve for Britain’s longest-reigning monarch many will look to King Charles and Queen Camilla to lead the country in mourning in their new roles. 

With some people likely wondering more about the title Queen Consort, here we reveal what it means and why Camilla now has a different title to the late Queen Elizabeth II. 

King Charles III and Camilla, Queen Consort view tributes

(Image credit: Photo Yui Mok - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

What does Queen Consort mean? 

The title Queen Consort simply means the wife of a reigning King as opposed to someone who is Queen in their own right like the late Queen Elizabeth II. Her Majesty was officially a Queen Regnant - or reigning Queen - as she ascended to the throne following the death of her father King George VI in 1952. Queen Elizabeth became the monarch via succession rather than marriage, whilst a Queen Consort in contrast is a Queen who became so by marriage. 

Why Camilla is Queen Consort and not Queen Regnant

As the wife of King Charles, Camilla, formerly known as the Duchess of Cornwall, has become a Queen Consort. This is because she is married to the new monarch and is not in the royal line of succession herself, having not been born into the Royal Family. Though she might be known simply as the Queen or Queen Camilla going forwards, officially she is Camilla, Queen Consort to King Charles. 

Buckingham Palace’s statement announcing the devastating news of Queen Elizabeth’s passing also referred to Charles and Camilla by their new titles.  

"The King and the Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow,” it declared after sharing that the Queen had passed away “peacefully”. 

King Charles III and Camilla, Queen Consort arriving at Buckingham Palace

(Image credit: Photo Yui Mok - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

In a message marking the start of her Platinum Jubilee year, Queen Elizabeth shared, “When, in the fullness of time, my son Charles becomes King, I know you will give him and his wife Camilla the same support that you have given me; and it is my sincere wish that, when that time comes, Camilla will be known as Queen Consort as she continues her own loyal service.”

As per the BBC, a Clarence House spokesman said at the time that her son and daughter-in-law were "touched and honoured" by her words. Whilst the Queen's message marked a change for the royal couple.

Prince of Wales and his new bride Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, with their children

(Image credit: Photo by Anwar Hussein Collection/ROTA/WireImage via Getty)

The new Queen Consort and King have now been married for almost 17 years and it was announced back in 2005 that when her husband ascended to the throne, Camilla would be known as Princess Consort instead.

Since then things have changed and Queen Elizabeth’s heartfelt endorsement as she marked such a significant milestone of her own paved the way for Camilla taking on the prestigious title held by the wives of Kings throughout history.

Was the Queen Mother a Queen Consort? 

Just like Camilla, the late Queen Mother was also a Queen Consort. Born Elizabeth Bowes Lyon, the Queen Mother was initially the Duchess of York after her marriage to the future King George VI when he was still Prince Albert, the Duke of York. After his brother King Edward VIII abdicated in 1936, King George VI took the throne. 

The Queen Mother waves to well-wishers during the celebration of her 90th birthday

(Image credit: Photo by Georges De Keerle/Getty Images)

As the wife of the reigning King, the Queen Mother was then known as Queen Elizabeth during her time as Queen Consort. When King George VI died in 1952 and her daughter became Queen Elizabeth II, she became known as Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother to avoid any possible confusion. 

Will Kate Middleton be Queen Consort?

Now Charles is King, his eldest son Prince William is now first in the royal line of succession and will one day follow him as King. As the Duke of Cambridge’s wife, Kate Middleton will in turn become Queen Consort one day. Although not confirmed, given she is currently known as Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, it’s likely she could be referred to simply as Queen Catherine when Prince William is King. 

Just like the new Queen Consort Camilla, whose “loyal service” was praised by Queen Elizabeth II in her 2021 message, the Duchess of Cambridge has shown her unwavering dedication throughout her time as a member of the Royal Family. 

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attend the National Service of Thanksgiving

(Image credit: Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage via Getty)

Until such a time as she becomes Queen Consort herself, it’s thought Kate could take on another hugely important title. The heir to the British throne is traditionally invested as Prince of Wales and the late Queen invested her eldest son as Prince of Wales in 1969. 

Although it’s not known when or if it might happen, it’s been predicted that King Charles will likely invest Prince William as the new Prince of Wales in the future, making his wife the new Princess of Wales.

Emma Dooney
Lifestyle News Writer

Hailing from the lovely city of Dublin, Emma mainly covers the Royal Family and the entertainment world, as well as the occasional health and wellness feature. Always up for a good conversation, she has a passion for interviewing everyone from A-list celebrities to the local GP - or just about anyone who will chat to her, really.

Emma holds an MA in International Journalism from City, University of London, and a BA in English Literature from Trinity College Dublin.