Camilla has faced serious backlash over the years for her marriage to Prince Charles following the death of his first wife Princess Diana, and the prospect of her one day becoming Queen has been met with debate – and hostility from many.
While the Duchess of Cornwall may not have addressed her difficult public image directly, she previously confirmed in a statement via Clarence House that she wished to “use the title HRH The Princess Consort” when her husband takes to the throne.
However, a surprise law may throw cold water on that plan, according to the University of Oxford’s Professor Pavlos Eleftheriadis – who said she’ll be Queen by law, whether she likes it or not.
“Camilla will be a ‘Queen’ in the limited legal sense of being the wife of the sovereign,” he told the Daily Star.
Charles and Camilla were married by the Privy Council in March 2005. According to the site, the Royal Marriages Act 1772 states it is therefore undisputed that she is the wife of a future sovereign. That would make her ‘Queen Consort’ by law when Charles becomes King.
He added that while she can still choose to be known as ‘The Princess Consort’, her official title will be a matter for Charles to decide on. Either way, she’ll be Queen on paper.
However, the pair will not be joint heads of state, and the professor explained that while Camilla will carry out joint roles as ‘Queen’, it will be a limited role and largely only on paper. Essentially, she will be the spouse of the sovereign, rather than a sovereign herself.
“She will be Queen for the purposes of the Treason Act 1351 and she may permitted to take the Coronation Oath, under the Coronation Act 1688, since that explicitly applies to the ‘King and Queen’,” he added to the publication.
Meanwhile, he claimed – along with two others – Camilla will have the power to certify the King’s incapacity to hold office, if she ever needed to.
He concluded: “So in these legal and symbolic senses, Camilla will be ‘Queen’, whether she wants it or not. But this does not entail that she will have a Royal title, which is a separate question.”
Until now, the royal family’s official stance has always been that Charles will be king and Camilla will be Princess Consort. Camilla’s lacklustre approval rating with the public during the early days of their relationship reportedly made the palace wary of giving her too grand a title.
However, she has endeared herself to much of the Commonwealth in recent years and proved her tenacity in the face of harsh criticism from media and fans of the late Princess Diana.
Media has been littered with reports throughout the couple’s marriage that Charles wants Camilla to be shown the upmost respect and awarded the coveted title.
He further fuelled rumours in 2010 when asked by NBC if his wife would one day be Queen. He replied: “We’ll see, won’t we? That could be.”
If Camilla is eventually awarded the title, it’s doubtful it will go down well with the public. Polls have shown Brits aren’t even too keen on Charles being made king and would rather the throne skipped a generation and went straight to his popular son, Prince William.
An Australian poll from 2016 showed similar results with 40 per cent in favour of William being made king and just 25 per cent supporting Charles.
Despite public opinion, The Queen has made every indication she will hand the reins over to her son when the time comes.
The Times reported in January that Charles was rolling back his charitable work to make room for his new “kingly” duties. The paper cited sources from Clarence House who confirmed the prince was adjusting his schedule to help out his mother by lightening the load and balancing his responsibilities.
The source reportedly said to the newspaper that “the approach of the Prince’s 70th birthday provided a sensible opportunity to review his charities to ensure that they continue to deliver the maximum benefit for those people they were set up to help.”