Queen expresses 'sincere wish' for Camilla to be known as 'Queen Consort' when Charles becomes King

ITV News Royal Editor Chris Ship reports on the significance the Queen's 'sincere wish' is likely to have on the monarchy going forward

In a significant intervention on her historic jubilee, the Queen has made it clear she wants her daughter-in-law, Camilla, to be called ‘Queen Consort’ when Prince Charles is crowned King. In a message to mark Accession Day on 6 February, when she becomes the first British Monarch to reign for 70 years, the Queen looked ahead to a time when she is no longer here - and made her wishes clear about the future of the Monarchy. She called it her “sincere wish” for Camilla to be known as Queen Consort and urged the country to give Charles and Camilla the same support she has enjoyed.

The Queen, who is at Sandringham, wrote: “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 the Queen “renewed” the pledge she made in 1947 that “my life will be devoted to your service”, she used the moment of Accession Day - the day her father died and her own reign began - to look ahead to the next chapter for the House of Windsor. A spokesperson for the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall said they are “touched and honoured by Her Majesty’s words”.

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall arrive to attend the Christmas Day morning church service at St George's Chapel in December. Credit: PA

Every since Charles re-married in 2005, royal aides knew how sensitive the issue of ‘Queen Camilla’ would be, given the public’s affection for Charles’s first wife Princess Diana. It was why Camilla Parker Bowles, as she was known, never took the title ‘Princess of Wales’ which, as the wife of the Prince of Wales, she is entitled to use.

The Queen, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall during the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords in 2019. Credit: PA

In fact, at the time of Charles and Camilla’s engagement, royal aides initially confirmed that Camilla would take the title ‘Princess Consort’ when her husband become the Monarch. In a statement in 2005, Prince Charles’ office wrote that “it is intended that Mrs Parker Bowles should use the title HRH The Princess Consort.“

But the wife of the King has always been known as Queen, be that King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, or King George V and Queen Mary and before them, King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra. Privately, Prince Charles has always insisted that his wife will be his Queen, but until today, palace aides have always been very nervous about expressing that in public. It is also a very sensitive issue for Princes William and Harry who lost their mother at such a young age. Camilla was Prince Charles’ mistress for a long time and she was identified by Princess Diana in her 2005 Panorama interview as the third person in her marriage.

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By taking this decision now, and not leaving it for her son to announce when he becomes King, then Queen is trying to protect the Monarchy’s future as best she can. The Queen had already secured Charles’ position as the next Head of the Commonwealth. In 2018, she made a speech in London expressing her wish for her son to succeed her as head of the organisation when Commonwealth leaders met in London in 2018. The issue of what to call Camilla when she became consort to the Sovereign was the one outstanding issue. That the Queen felt able to make her wishes known in this way indicates that royal aides now consider Camilla’s public perception to be much less toxic than it was following Diana’s death. But they also took the more cautious approach of allowing the Queen to make the announcement - given the high levels of respect and admiration she commands across the country. The Queen is trying to ensure as smooth a transition as possible for the institution to which she has devoted her life.