A prince consort is the husband of a queen regnant who is not himself a king in his own right. In recognition of his status, a prince consort may be given a formal title, such as prince or prince consort, with prince being the most common. However, most monarchies do not have formal rules on the styling of princes consort, thus they may have no special title. Few monarchies use the title of king consort for the same role.
Usage in Europe
Prince Albert is the only spouse of a British queen to have held the title "Prince Consort". The title was awarded to him in 1857 by his wife, Queen Victoria (reigned 1837–1901). In 2005, Prince Henrik, the spouse of Margrethe II of Denmark, was awarded the title, but in 2016, he announced that he objected to it and would not be using it. Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (prince consort of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth realms) is a Prince of the United Kingdom but is not titled as Prince Consort.
The distinction between the positions of prince consort and king is important in the British patriarchal hierarchical system. Within this hierarchy, the king holds a higher position in the British social hierarchy. Thus, more power is attributed to him. In cases where the hereditary monarch is female, such as Queen Victoria, who ascended to the throne in 1837, power is attributed to the queen, for she holds the highest position in the absence of a king.
Clarence House has announced that when Charles, Prince of Wales becomes monarch of the United Kingdom, his second wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall would have the title of princess consort rather than queen, however the Duchess of Cornwall will automatically take on the title and style pertaining to the queen consort unless legislation is passed to the contrary, and as of summer 2018 all references to "princess consort" have been removed by both Buckingham Palace and Clarence House on their respective websites.
Usage in imperial China
The imperial Chinese title of fuma (simplified Chinese: 驸马; traditional Chinese: 駙馬; pinyin: fùmǎ), and its Manchu equivalent e'fu (simplified Chinese: 额驸; traditional Chinese: 額駙; pinyin: é'fù), are sometimes translated as "prince consort". This was originally an office of the imperial household, later evolving into the title reserved for husbands of imperial princesses. These princes consort could hold other offices and titles in their own right.
A king consort or emperor consort is a rarely used (or disputed) title to describe the husband of a queen regnant. Examples include:
- Mary, Queen of Scots (reigned 1542–1567) married Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, the eldest son of the Earl and Countess of Lennox in July 1565. Darnley was a great-grandson of King Henry VII of England and Mary's first cousin, and he was considered to have a strong claim to the Scottish throne. On the evening before their marriage, Mary proclaimed Darnley "King of Scots", a title that she could not legally grant him without the consent of Parliament, but which was never formally challenged. However, this title did not grant him any automatic right of rule or of succession to the throne should Mary die. For that to happen, it was necessary that Mary grant him the Crown Matrimonial of Scotland, which never happened.
- Queen Victoria (reigned 1837–1901) wanted to make her husband Albert "king consort" but the British government refused to introduce a bill allowing it, as Albert was a foreigner. She instead gave him the title of prince consort in 1857.
- Francis, Duke of Cádiz remained king even after his wife's reign was over.
- Klein, P. (2017). Kings & Queens. Library Journal, 142(8), 37-39.
- "Announcement of the marriage of HRH The Prince of Wales and Mrs Camilla Parker Bowles". www.princeofwales.gov.uk. TRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall. February 10, 2005. Retrieved July 15, 2017.
Mrs Parker Bowles will use the title HRH The Duchess of Cornwall after marriage. It is intended that Mrs Parker Bowles should use the title HRH The Princess Consort when The Prince of Wales accedes to The Throne.
- Furness, Hannah (10 March 2018). "Could Camilla become Queen after all? Clarence House quietly removes statement about Duchess of Cornwall's future role". The Telegraph. Retrieved 11 March 2018.