Queen Camilla is the wife of King Charles III, who ascended the throne on 8 September 2022, following the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II.
As the spouse of the reigning monarch, she holds the title of queen consort and shares her husband’s social rank and status. But what would happen to her if King Charles dies?
Would she remain a queen or lose her title and role? This article will explore the possible scenarios and implications for Queen Camilla in the event of King Charles’s death.
What Happens if King Charles Dies?
If King Charles dies, the succession to the throne will follow the rules established by the Act of Settlement of 1701 and the Succession to the Crown Act of 2013. These laws stipulate that only Protestant descendants of Sophia of Hanover, who are in communion with the Church of England, are eligible to succeed. The succession is also based on absolute primogeniture, which means that the eldest child, regardless of gender, inherits the crown.
Succession to the Throne
According to the current line of succession, King Charles’s eldest son, William, Prince of Wales, would become the next king upon his father’s death. He would be followed by his three children: Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis. Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, who is King Charles’s younger son, would be sixth in line, followed by his two children: Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet.
The coronation of the new king or queen is not an automatic or immediate event. It usually takes place several months after the death of the previous monarch, to allow for a period of mourning and preparation. The coronation is a solemn ceremony that involves an oath, an anointing, a crowning, and a presentation of regalia. The coronation is held at Westminster Abbey and presided over by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The new monarch is also expected to deliver a speech at the ceremony.
Reign of the Next Monarch
The reign of the next monarch begins as soon as the previous one dies, even before the coronation takes place. The new monarch assumes all the powers and duties of the head of state and head of the Commonwealth. The new monarch also adopts a regnal name, which may or may not be their given name. For example, King Charles III was born Charles Philip Arthur George but chose to use his first name as his regnal name. His son, William, may decide to use a different name when he becomes king.
What Happens to Queen Camilla?
Queen Camilla’s status and role would change significantly if King Charles dies. She would no longer be the queen consort or share her husband’s rank and status. She would also lose her official duties and privileges as a member of the royal family.
Title as Queen Dowager
After Charles’s death, Camilla became a dowager queen. The widow of a monarch usually holds this title. A queen dowager has the title, style, and precedence of a queen but is no longer called “the queen”. The new queen consort would be “the queen” to a new king.
In some cases, a queen dowager may also be known as “queen mother” if she is the mother of the reigning monarch. However, this is not an official title and may not be used by Queen Camilla if William becomes king. This is because there is already another queen mother in British history: Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, who was the widow of King George VI and the mother of Queen Elizabeth II. She was officially styled as “Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother” from 1952 until her death in 2002. To avoid confusion with her late grandmother-in-law, Queen Camilla may prefer to use “queen dowager” or simply “queen” as her title if King Charles dies.
Loss of Official Duties
Queen Camilla would also lose her official duties as a queen consort if King Charles dies. She would no longer represent the monarchy or accompany her husband on state visits and engagements. She would also no longer receive public funds or have access to royal residences and staff. She may still attend some royal events as a guest or a relative of the new monarch, but she would not have any formal role or influence in them.
Possibility of Camilla Becoming Queen Consort
There is also a possibility that Queen Camilla may never become queen consort at all. This is because King Charles may decide to abdicate or renounce his throne before he dies, either voluntarily or under pressure from public opinion or political circumstances.
There have been several cases in British history where a king or a queen has abdicated or been deposed from the throne. The most recent example was King Edward VIII, who abdicated in 1936 to marry Wallis Simpson, an American divorcee. His brother, King George VI, succeeded him and became the father of Queen Elizabeth II. Another example was King James II, who fled the country in 1688 after a rebellion led by his son-in-law, William of Orange. He was replaced by his daughter Mary and her husband William as joint rulers.
King Charles may face some challenges or difficulties that could prompt him to abdicate or resign from the throne. Some of these challenges may include:
- His age and health: King Charles is currently 74 years old and may not have the stamina or the desire to rule for a long time. He may also suffer from some health problems or illnesses that could impair his ability or willingness to perform his duties.
- His popularity and reputation: King Charles is not as popular or respected as his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, who was widely admired and loved by the public. He may also face some criticism or controversy over his past actions or opinions, especially regarding his relationship with Camilla and his divorce from Diana.
- His vision and agenda: King Charles is known for having strong views and interests on various issues, such as the environment, architecture, religion, and education. He may wish to use his position as king to promote or influence these issues, but he may also encounter some opposition or resistance from the government, the parliament, or the public.
- His constitutional role and authority: King Charles may have some conflicts or disagreements with the government or the parliament over his constitutional role and authority as king. He may want to have more say or involvement in political matters, but he may also be expected to remain neutral and impartial. He may also face some challenges or changes in his relationship with the Commonwealth realms, which are sovereign states that share him as their head of state.
If any of these challenges become too overwhelming or unbearable for King Charles, he may decide to abdicate or relinquish his throne in favor of his son William. In that case, Queen Camilla would never become queen consort, but would remain a princess consort until her husband’s death.