Unraveling the Mystery: Why Prince Philip Never Became King of England
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It's known that Prince Philip, husband of the late Queen Elizabeth II and father of King Charles III, was not king during his wife's reign. Instead, he held the title of Prince Philip, also known as the Duke of Edinburgh. Following Queen Elizabeth's death, Charles ascended to the throne, and his wife Camilla Parker Bowles is now known as Queen Consort Camilla for as long as Charles lives.
Many people wonder why Camilla is queen consort while Prince Philip was not king. The answer lies in British Parliamentary law, which determines the next in line for the throne and the title of their spouse. The law looks only to blood, not gender, for succession. This makes the royal family tree seem complicated, but it's easily explained. However, the law treats men and women differently when it comes to the spouses of royalty.
When a male in the royal bloodline marries, his wife takes the female form of his title. For example, when Prince William married Kate Middleton and became the Duke of Cambridge, Kate became the Duchess of Cambridge. When he became the Prince of Wales, Kate also became Princess of Wales, the title synonymous with the late Princess Diana. So, when Prince William becomes king, Kate's title will change to match his.
Camilla's title is queen consort because she is married to King Charles, now a reigning male monarch. When they wed in 2005, it was thought that she would be called princess consort when Charles became king. However, in February 2022, Queen Elizabeth announced that she wished for Camilla to have the queen consort title once Charles ascended to the throne. This announcement caused confusion and made the term "queen consort" one of Merriam Webster's words of the year.
Exploring the male and female lineage of the Royal Family illuminates some interesting traditions and protocols. When Queen Elizabeth II's father, George VI, was crowned king, his wife's title was referred to as "queen consort" even though she was known as "Queen Elizabeth." This nickname differentiated her from the previous Queen Elizabeth who was the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. When George VI passed, Elizabeth II became queen and her mother was subsequently titled "queen mother."
When a female member of the Royal Family marries, her husband is not eligible to receive her titled surname. This tradition extends to Princess Eugenie's husband Jack Brooksbank who remains known as "Mr. Jack Brooksbank." Similarly, Philip Mountbatten, who married then-Princess Elizabeth in 1947, did not become a prince until 1957 when Elizabeth II bestowed the title upon him through letters patent. Philip had already renounced his right to the Greek and Danish royal families, and became known as "His Royal Highness, the Duke of Edinburgh" when he married Elizabeth. This title remained with him throughout his life until his passing in April 2021.
Town and Country: "Will Princess Eugenie's Fiancé Jack Brooksbank Receive a Royal Title on His Wedding Day?"
Britannica: "Philip, duke of Edinburgh"
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