|Part of the Politics series|
|Part of a series on|
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gentry and chivalric ranks in Europe
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A queen consort is the wife of a reigning king, or an empress consort in the case of an emperor. A queen consort usually shares her spouse's social rank and status. She holds the feminine equivalent of the king's monarchical titles, and is crowned and anointed, but historically, she does not formally share the regnant's political and military powers, unless on occasion acting as regent.
In contrast, a queen regnant is a female monarch who rules in her own right, and usually becomes queen by inheriting the throne upon the death of the previous monarch.
A queen dowager is the widow of a king, and a queen mother is a former queen consort who is the mother of the current monarch.
When a title other than king is held by the sovereign, his wife is referred to by the feminine equivalent, such as princess consort or empress consort.
In monarchies where polygamy has been practiced in the past (such as Morocco and Thailand), or is practiced today (such as the Zulu nation and the various Yoruba polities), the number of wives of the king varies. In Morocco, King Mohammed VI has broken with tradition and given his wife, Lalla Salma, the title of princess. Prior to the reign of King Mohammed VI, the Moroccan monarchy had no such title. In Thailand, the king and queen must both be of royal descent. The king's other consorts are accorded royal titles that confer status. Other cultures maintain different traditions on queenly status. A Zulu chieftain designates one of his wives as "Great Wife", which would be the equivalent to queen consort.
Conversely, in Yorubaland, all of a chief's consorts are essentially of equal rank. Although one of their number, usually the one who has been married to the chief for the longest time, may be given a chieftaincy of her own to highlight her relatively higher status when compared to the other wives, she does not share her husband's ritual power as a chieftain. When a woman is to be vested with an authority similar to that of the chief, she is usually a lady courtier in his service who is not married to him, but who is expected to lead his female subjects on his behalf.
While the wife of a king is usually titled as the queen, there is much less consistency for the husband of a reigning queen. The title of king consort is rare. Examples are Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, in Scotland and Francis, Duke of Cádiz, in Spain. Antoine of Bourbon-Vendôme in Navarre and Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha in Portugal gained the title king, not king consort, and were co-rulers with their reigning queen wives because of the practice of Jure uxoris. The title of prince consort for the husband of a reigning queen is more common. An example is Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, who, upon marrying Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and because of her insistence that he be given a title of his status, became Albert, Prince Consort.
In general, the consorts of monarchs have no official power per se, even when their position is constitutionally or statutorily recognized. They often held an informal sort of power that was dependent on what opportunities were afforded to her. Should she produce a healthy heir, have an amiable personality, and intelligence, then chances were higher for her to gain it. If the court, and even more so, the monarch were in favor of the royal consort, she could gain cultural, social and financial influence over time. There have been many cases of royal consorts being shrewd or ambitious stateswomen and, usually (but not always) unofficially, being among the monarch's most trusted advisors. In some cases, the royal consort has been the chief power behind her husband's throne; e.g. Maria Luisa of Parma, wife of Charles IV of Spain.
Some royal consorts from foreign origins have served roles as transfers of culture. Due to their unique position of being reared in one culture and then, when very young, promised into marriage in another land with a different culture, they have served as a cultural bridge between nations. Based on their journals, diaries and accounts, some exchanged and introduced new forms of art, music, religion and fashion.
Often the royal consort of a deceased monarch (the dowager queen or queen mother) has served as regent if her child, the successor to the throne, was still a minor—for example:
Past queens consort:
Past empresses consort:
Current queens consort:
Current empress consort:
Current queens consort in federal monarchies
Because queens consort lack an ordinal with which to distinguish between them, many historical texts and encyclopedias refer to deceased consorts by their premarital (or maiden) name or title, not by their marital royal title (examples: Queen Mary, consort of George V, is usually called Mary of Teck, and Queen Maria José, consort of Umberto II of Italy, is usually called Marie José of Belgium).