Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II, was the longest-serving royal consort.

A royal consort is the spouse of a reigning king or queen. Consorts of British monarchs have no constitutional status or power but many have had significant influence, and support the sovereign in his or her duties.[1] There have been 11 royal consorts since Britain's union of the crowns in 1707, eight women and three men.

Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II, is the longest-serving and oldest-ever consort, and served for nearly 70 years until his death in 2021. Since the accession of Charles III on 8 September 2022, his wife Camilla has held the position of queen consort.[2]

History

Since the union of England and Scotland in 1707, there have been eleven consorts of the British monarch.[3] Queens between 1727 and 1814 were also Electress of Hanover, as their husbands all held the title of Elector of Hanover.[4] Between 1814 and 1837, queens held the title as Queen of Hanover, as their husbands were kings of Hanover.[5] The personal union with the United Kingdom ended in 1837 on the accession of Queen Victoria because the succession laws (Salic Law) in Hanover prevented a female inheriting the title if there was any surviving male heir (in the United Kingdom, a male took precedence over only his own sisters, until the Succession to the Crown Act 2013 which removed male primogeniture).[6] In the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, Hanover was annexed by Prussia and became the Province of Hanover.[7]

Not all wives of monarchs have become consorts, as they may have died, been divorced before their husbands' acceding to the throne, or married after abdication. Such cases include Princess Sophia Dorothea of Celle, wife of George, Hereditary Prince of Brunswick-Lüneburg (the future King George I), Wallis Warfield, wife of Edward, Duke of Windsor (the former King Edward VIII), and Lady Diana Spencer, wife of Charles, Prince of Wales (later King Charles III).

Only George I and Edward VIII were unmarried throughout their reigns.[8]

Since 1937, the sovereign's consort and the first four individuals in the line of succession who are over 21 may be appointed counsellors of state. Counsellors of state perform some of the sovereign's duties in the United Kingdom while the sovereign is out of the country or temporarily incapacitated.[9]

Style

The wife of the reigning king is styled as "Her Majesty The Queen" during her husband's reign and "Her Majesty Queen [first name]" upon her husband's death. She is referred to as "Her Majesty" and addressed as "Your Majesty". Since her coronation in 2023, the current royal consort, Camilla, has also been styled as "Her Majesty The Queen" per tradition. She was initially styled as "Her Majesty The Queen Consort" to distinguish her from her then recently deceased mother-in-law, Queen Elizabeth II, who as a queen regnant was also styled as "Her Majesty The Queen".[10][11]

Male consorts

Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, the husband of Queen Victoria, is the only male consort to be awarded the title Prince Consort.

The husband of a reigning queen does not share the regal title and style of his wife, and the three men who served as consort held various titles.

Coronation

The Coronation of King George V: King George V and Queen Mary Enthroned by Laurits Tuxen, 1912

Queens consort participate in the coronation ceremony, undertaking many of the same ceremonies as the monarch. Queens traditionally wear elaborate robes and walk in the procession under a canopy. They have also been anointed with holy oil and been crowned. Traditionally, male consorts are not crowned or anointed during the coronation ceremony.[12]

An unusual case was Caroline of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, who had separated from her husband, George IV, before his accession, became queen consort by law but had no position at court and was forcibly barred from attending his coronation and being crowned.[13]

Regalia

The earliest surviving consort's crown is that created in 1685 for Mary of Modena. In the early-20th century, new crowns were created for each queen consort in turn. However, Queen Camilla did not have a new crown created for her coronation in 2023 and she was crowned using the 1911 Crown of Queen Mary.[14]

The Queen Consort's Ring was first created for the coronation of Queen Adelaide in 1831, and has been used by queens consort ever since.[14]

The Queen Consort's Rod with Dove represents 'equity and mercy' and the dove, with its folded wings, is symbolic of the Holy Ghost. The Queen Consort's Sceptre with Cross, originally made for the coronation of Mary of Modena in 1685, is inlaid with rock crystals.[14]

List of consorts

Picture Name Arms Birth Marriage Became consort Coronation Ceased to be consort Death Grave site Tenure Spouse
George of Denmark and Norway 2 April 1653
Son of
Frederick III of Denmark and Norway
and
Sophie Amalie of Brunswick-Calenberg
28 July 1683 1 May 1707

Creation of the Kingdom of Great Britain; became consort to the monarch of England and Scotland upon spouse's accession 8 March 1702
Not crowned 28 October 1708

55 years, 209 days
Westminster Abbey 1 year, 180 days Anne
Wilhelmina Charlotte Caroline of Brandenburg-Ansbach 1 March 1683
Daughter of
John Frederick, Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach
and
Eleonore Erdmuthe of Saxe-Eisenach
22 August 1705 11 June 1727

Spouse's accession
11 October 1727 20 November 1737

54 years, 172 days
10 years, 162 days George II
Sophia Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz

19 May 1744
Daughter of
Duke Charles Louis Frederick of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Prince of Mirow
and
Elisabeth Albertine of Saxe-Hildburghausen
8 September 1761

Marriage to the monarch
22 September 1761 17 November 1818

74 years, 126 days
St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle 57 years, 70 days George III
Caroline Amelia Elizabeth of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel 17 May 1768
Daughter of
Charles William Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
and
Augusta of Great Britain
8 April 1795 29 January 1820

Spouse's accession
Not crowned 7 August 1821

53 years, 72 days
Brunswick Cathedral 1 year, 190 days George IV
Adelaide Amelia Louise Theresa Caroline of Saxe-Meiningen 13 August 1792
Daughter of
Georg I, Duke of Saxe-Meiningen
and
Louise Eleanore of Hohenlohe-Langenburg
13 July 1818 26 June 1830

Spouse's accession
8 September 1831 20 June 1837

Spouse's death
2 December 1849

56 years, 311 days
St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle 6 years, 359 days William IV
Franz August Karl Albert Emanuel of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha 26 August 1819
Son of
Ernest I, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
and
Louise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg
10 February 1840

Marriage to the monarch
Not crowned 14 December 1861

42 years, 110 days
St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, then Frogmore Royal Mausoleum 21 years, 307 days Victoria
Alexandra Caroline Marie Charlotte Louise Julia of Denmark 1 December 1844
Daughter of
Christian IX of Denmark
and
Louise of Hesse-Kassel
10 March 1863 22 January 1901

Spouse's accession
9 August 1902 6 May 1910

Spouse's death
20 November 1925

80 years, 354 days
St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle 9 years, 104 days Edward VII
Victoria Mary Louise Olga Pauline Claudine Agnes of Teck 26 May 1867
Daughter of
Francis, Duke of Teck
and
Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge
6 July 1893 6 May 1910

Spouse's accession
22 June 1911 20 January 1936

Spouse's death
24 March 1953

85 years, 302 days
25 years, 259 days George V
Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon 4 August 1900
Daughter of
Claude Bowes-Lyon, 14th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne
and
Cecilia Cavendish-Bentinck
26 April 1923 11 December 1936

Spouse's accession
12 May 1937 6 February 1952

Spouse's death
30 March 2002

101 years, 238 days
15 years, 57 days George VI
Philip of Greece and Denmark 10 June 1921
Son of
Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark
and
Princess Alice of Battenberg
20 November 1947 6 February 1952

Spouse's accession
Not crowned 9 April 2021

99 years, 303 days
69 years, 62 days Elizabeth II
Camilla Rosemary Shand 17 July 1947
Daughter of
Bruce Shand
and
The Honourable Rosalind Cubitt
9 April 2005 8 September 2022

Spouse's accession
6 May 2023 Incumbent

Age: 76 years, 292 days
Living 1 year, 240 days Charles III

Timeline

Queen CamillaPrince Philip, Duke of EdinburghQueen Elizabeth The Queen MotherMary of TeckAlexandra of DenmarkPrince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and GothaAdelaide of Saxe-MeiningenCaroline of BrunswickCharlotte of Mecklenburg-StrelitzCaroline of AnsbachPrince George of DenmarkHouse of WindsorHouse of Saxe-Coburg and GothaHouse of HanoverHouse of Stuart

References

  1. ^ Tudor and Stuart consorts : power, influence, and dynasty. Aidan Norrie. Cham, Switzerland. 2022. ISBN 978-3-030-95197-9. OCLC 1336986822.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link) CS1 maint: others (link); Bogdanor, Vernon (1995). The monarchy and the constitution. Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN 978-0-19-152089-1. OCLC 344061919.; Queens & power in medieval and early modern England. Carole Levin, R. O. Bucholz. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. 2009. ISBN 978-0-8032-2278-6. OCLC 316765760.((cite book)): CS1 maint: others (link)
  2. ^ "Camilla, the new Queen Consort". BBC News. Retrieved 8 June 2023.
  3. ^ "Monarch award, Consort category". Merry Christmas. Retrieved 2 November 2022.
  4. ^ Kirsty.Oram (30 December 2015). "The Hanoverians". The Royal Family. Retrieved 2 November 2022.
  5. ^ "Marie, Queen of Hanover. She was the wife of King George V of..." Getty Images. 9 April 2004. Retrieved 2 November 2022.
  6. ^ Emma.Goodey (17 March 2016). "Succession". The Royal Family. Retrieved 2 November 2022.
  7. ^ "Kingdom of Hannover". www.globalsecurity.org. Retrieved 2 November 2022.
  8. ^ "Why was Edward VIII still unmarried at 42 years old? At that time wasn't it customary for royal parents to arrange an engagement or urge ..." Quora. Retrieved 2 November 2022.
  9. ^ "Counsellors of State". The Royal Family. Retrieved 13 June 2023.
  10. ^ "The Queen". The Royal Family. 6 May 2023. Retrieved 13 May 2023.
  11. ^ "Is Camilla now Queen Camilla?". Constitution Unit. 9 August 2018.
  12. ^ "What is a queen consort?". Royal Collection Trust. Retrieved 24 May 2023.
  13. ^ "Why Was Queen Caroline Barred From Her Husband's Coronation?". TheCollector. 17 March 2022. Retrieved 2 November 2022.
  14. ^ a b c "The Coronation Regalia". The Royal Family. 9 April 2023.