Could Kate Middleton become Queen before Camilla Parker Bowles? Plus, will Camilla be Queen at all and what is her title now King Charles III has ascended to the throne?
Following the Queen's death (opens in new tab), many are asking questions about what's next for the royal family. King Charles III is the new monarch because he was next in line for the throne (opens in new tab), but many are unsure as to what this means for his wife, Camilla, previously Duchess of Cornwall.
Royal experts revealed that Kate Middleton is already preparing to become Queen (opens in new tab), and she has only just become Princess of Wales - a title Camilla never held. The change in status is confusing for many who are unsure if Camilla will be Queen at all, and wondering if Kate Middleton could become Queen before her.
Could Kate Middleton become Queen before Camilla?
Now that Queen Elizabeth II has died and her eldest son Charles is King, Camilla is Queen Consort (opens in new tab), while Kate Middleton has taken on the title on Princess of Wales.
Camilla is married to a King rather than reigning in her own right, so she is not Queen in the same way that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II (opens in new tab) was. This means if anything were to happen to Charles whilst King, she would not take over as monarch - that honour will fall to Prince William. The same is true of Kate Middleton, who will be Queen Consort when her husband, the Prince of Wales, ascends to the throne.
TRHs The Prince and Princess of Wales, titles conferred on the couple by HM King Charles III today. pic.twitter.com/63FBG5eCKfSeptember 9, 2022
Now Prince Charles is King, is Camilla Queen?
Camilla is now Queen Consort, a title which Queen Elizabeth II confirmed that the former Duchess of Cornwall would take on in an announcement ahead of the Platinum Jubilee (opens in new tab) celebrations.
A Queen can be a Queen Consort (married to a King), a Queen Regnant (reigning in her own right) or a Queen Dowager (mother of the reigning Monarch). Camilla, who has two children (opens in new tab) from her previous relationship, is therefore Queen by marriage.
Camilla was originally not going to receive the title at all. This is because when Prince Charles married Camilla in 2005, it was announced that she would instead be known as 'Princess Consort'.
It was thought that the alternative was agreed upon due to the controversial nature of their relationship following the death of Diana (opens in new tab), Princess of Wales.
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The title was even confirmed in a Clarence House statement in March 2020:
"The intention is for the Duchess to be known as Princess Consort when the Prince accedes to the throne," it read. "This was announced at the time of the marriage and there has been absolutely no change at all."
However, in 2022 the late Queen made it clear in her 70th Accession day message (opens in new tab) that it was her "sincere wish that, when that time comes, Camilla will be known as Queen Consort as she continues her own loyal service."
Reacting to the news, a Clarence House spokesman said the then Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall were "touched and honoured".
Who will be the next King?
Prince William, King Charles' eldest son, is next in line to the throne. He will become King when his father dies or if he decides to abdicate or retire.
When Prince William becomes King, his eldest son Prince George will be second in line to the throne. A change to the Succession to the Crown Act in 2013 means that a royal female who is in line to the throne and is older than her male siblings can become Queen before them. Before, younger male heirs would be considered for the throne before their older, female siblings.
This means that Princess Charlotte is next in line to the throne after her older brother, Prince George, and before their younger sibling, Prince Louis. However, when and if Prince George has children, they will be before Princess Charlotte in the line of succession.
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Has anyone ever abdicated from the throne before?
Most famously, Edward VIII abdicated the throne in 1936 after ruling for less than one year. He became the first English monarch to abdicate after the British government and the Church of England condemned his decision to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson.
Announcing his decision, he said, “I have found it impossible to carry on the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge the duties of king, as I would wish to do, without the help and support of the woman I love.”
A day later, on 12 December, his younger brother was crowned King George VI. He was the father of the late Queen Elizabeth II, and upon his death in 1952 she ascended to the throne. Her coronation (opens in new tab) took place almost a year and a half later.
Who is next in line to the British throne after King Charles and Prince William?
After Prince Charles and Prince William, it is the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s eldest son, Prince George, who is next in line to the throne. He will be a King Regnant, as he was born into the royal family and so can reign as a monarch.
🎂 Wishing a very Happy 9th Birthday to Prince George! pic.twitter.com/RenASYiAsUJuly 22, 2022
Should Prince George abdicate then Princess Charlotte can take the throne, as fourth in line. And if she declines it, then the honour goes to her brother Prince Louis.
Despite stepping back as a senior royal (opens in new tab) and moving to the USA, Prince Harry can still become King (opens in new tab). But only if all three of Kate and Prince William's children decide not to take the throne.
Who will be the next Queen?
The next royal family member who could feasibly become Queen of England is Princess Charlotte. This is because in order for a monarch to reign as King or Queen they have to be born into the family.
This is why Camilla Parker Bowles and Kate Middleton will never be Queen Regnant.
Though Charlotte is the next possible Queen by birth she may not ever take the throne. This is because if Prince George has children of his own, they will move above her in the line of succession. Then again if Prince George does not produce an heir, or abdicates, Princess Charlotte will become Queen.
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Emily Stedman is the Features Editor for GoodTo covering all things TV, entertainment, royal, lifestyle, health and wellbeing. Boasting an encyclopaedic knowledge on all things TV, celebrity and royals, career highlights include working at HELLO! Magazine and as a royal researcher to Diana biographer Andrew Morton on his book Meghan: A Hollywood Princess. In her spare time, Emily can be found eating her way around London, swimming at her local Lido or curled up on the sofa binging the next best Netflix show.
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