London: Queen Elizabeth II’s eldest son, Charles, 73, is now King Charles III after his mother, the longest-reigning monarch in British history, died in Scotland on Thursday.
He inherits the sovereign title and role as head of the Commonwealth, as well as other assets such as land and religious duties. While the wife of a king usually assumes the title of queen, this has not been a given to his second wife, Camilla. The pair married in 2005.
At the time of the couple’s marriage, it was announced that she would not be known as queen when he became monarch, but as “princess consort” - at a time when British public sentiment toward her was more frosty.
But in a statement marking the 70th anniversary of her accession to the throne earlier this year, Queen Elizabeth II announced that she wanted Camilla to be known as “queen consort” when Charles became king.
The intervention cleared up a question that had lingered since they married. Without it, Camilla, previously known as the Duchess of Cornwall, could have been the first British queen not to be officially called a queen.
“And 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 times comes, Camilla will be known as Queen Consort as she continues her own loyal service,” Queen Elizabeth II said in her February statement as she planned beyond her reign.
Charles, who had stepped in to take on more royal duties as the monarch’s health deteriorated, thanked his mother and said he was “deeply conscious of the honour” for his “darling” wife.
On Thursday, in a statement announcing Elizabeth’s death, Buckingham Palace said: “The King and The Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow,” formalizing her public title.
When Charles married Camilla Parker Bowles, just about 7 per cent of Britons thought she should become queen. It was nearly nine years after his divorce from Princess Diana and nearly eight years after her death.
Like Princess Diana, some Britons blamed Camilla for the breakdown of her marriage to Prince Charles. “There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded,” Diana famously said in a 1995 interview.
Although she didn’t have the same kind of star power as Diana, Camilla sought to improve her image after she became a royal. She has become patron to dozens of charities and has advocated against domestic violence, among other causes.
In a 2010 interview, when he was asked whether his wife would become queen, Charles responded: “That’s well . . . we’ll see, won’t we? That could be.”