4, May 2023
Why is Camilla being crowned queen? King Charles’ wife’s role at the coronation, explained

King Charles III’s big coronation day will also be cementing Queen Consort Camilla’s role as a senior member of the British royal family.

Camilla – born Camilla Rosemary Shand – has had many changes to her title since the beginning of her relationship with Charles, from Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order and the Duchess of Cornwall, to her latest as queen consort.

It has been nearly 90 years since Britain’s last queen consort – Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother – was crowned. While the term may be unfamiliar, it has a long tradition.

Here’s what the title means for Camilla and what to expect from her coronation.

Will Camilla be crowned queen? What crown will Camilla wear?

Camilla will also be crowned on coronation day, and the queen consort isn’t just getting any crown. Camilla will wear Queen Mary’s crown, marking the first time in recent history a queen consort has used an existing crown for coronation. Queen Mary wore the headpiece for her queen consort coronation in 1911. The decision was made “in the interests of sustainability and efficiency,” according to the palace.

Queen Mary’s crown was removed from display at the Tower of London to modify it for Camilla. The changes to the crown include the use of the Cullinan III, IV and V diamonds, which were a part of the late Queen Elizabeth II’s personal jewelry collection, and removing four of the crown’s eight detachable arches to give a different look.

Queen Consort Camilla will use Queen Mary's crown for her coronation.

Queen Consort Camilla will use Queen Mary’s crown for her coronation.

What is a queen consort?

It’s the fancy name for the wife of a reigning king. All previous wives of British or English kings were queen consorts (which includes all six of Henry VIII’s wives, at least while they were married to him). In the 20th century, there were two: Queen Mary, wife of King George V, and Queen Alexandra, wife of King Edward VII.

What does a queen consort do?

As with the first lady of the United States, there is no job description, no salary and there are no official duties. The queen consort also has no constitutional position, but there’s high visibility, high pressure and high expectations from the public, whose taxes pay for the monarchy.

Queen Consort Camilla has no constitutional power, but she's an integral part of the British monarchy's image.

Queen Consort Camilla has no constitutional power, but she’s an integral part of the British monarchy’s image.

In general, a queen consort’s job is to support the king in any way he can. Job No. 1 is to birth heirs, but this isn’t an issue for Charles and Camilla, who each have children from their previous marriages. Prince William was first in the line of succession followed by his eldest son, Prince George, 9.

As the wife of Charles for the past 18 years, Camilla has already been doing what a queen consort would do: She is a royal patron to scores of charities and good causes, accompanies her husband on royal tours, meets thousands of people every year and is gracious and charming with everyone.

What will Camilla be called now?

She is called Queen Consort Camilla, but Queen Camilla will do. It’s nicely alliterative and the “consort” part is understood.

The official palace press will always refer to her as “Her Majesty” in any news release, but US media rarely use HM or HRH, for “Her Royal Highness,” in referring to Camilla now.

Buckingham Palace officially identified her as Queen Camilla, without the “consort,” for the first time in April when it revealed its invitation design for the coronation. The title is notable because it marks a step in the remarkable transformation of a woman once derided as a homewrecker because of her role in the breakdown of Charles’ marriage to Princess Diana.

If King Charles dies, will Camilla be queen?

Camilla will never be the reigning queen. Only members of the royal family who are born in the direct line of succession can become monarchs.

With William and George the next two in line for the throne, a reigning queen is unlikely to come anytime soon. (There have only been six reigning queens in British history since 1066.)

Contributing: Maria Puente, USA TODAY; Danica Kirka, The Associated Press

Everything to know about the coronation:

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Queen Camilla? At King Charles Coronation, Camilla Bowles also crowned

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