Queen consort

Queen consort

A queen consort is the title given to the wife of a reigning king. Queen consorts usually share their husbands' rank (in salic or semi-salic law monarchies) and hold the feminine equivalent of their husbands' monarchical titles. Most of the time, however, they have no real power.


The wife of a reigning king is called a queen . By contrast, the husband of a reigning queen is usually not called "king consort", although it was more common in Europe's past for husbands of queens regnant to take the title of King (e.g. Francisco de Asis of Bourbon-Cadiz in Spain, Philip II of Spain in England, Antoine of Bourbon-Vendôme in Navarre and King Consort Ferdinand of Portugal). Rather, he is normally called a Prince or Prince Consort, as with the husband of Queen Victoria.

Where some title other than that of king is held by the sovereign, his wife is referred to by the feminine equivalent, such as "empress consort" or "princess consort". In monarchies where polygamy has been practiced (such as Morocco, Thailand) or is still practiced (such as the Zulu nation) none or only some of the wives of the king may bear the title of queen. In Morocco, no king's wife enjoys a queenly title, although the present king Mohammed VI has broken with tradition and given his wife Lalla Salma the title of princess. In Thailand, traditionally a wife of the king only became queen if she was of royal birth herself (a practice also common in Europe until well into the 20th century), and there are several gradations of the queenly title to which a consort can be elevated. Among the Zulus, although all of the king's wives are accorded the title queen and the style of "Royal Highness", only the "Great Wife" is considered "the" queen consort.

Role of the queen consort

In general, however, the consorts of monarchs have no power "per se", even when their position is constitutionally or statutorily recognized. However, often the queen consort of a deceased king (the queen dowager or queen mother) has served as regent while her child, the successor to the throne, was still a minor—for example:
*Anne of Kiev, wife of Henry I of France
*Marie de Medicis, mother of Louis XIII of France
*Mary of Guise, mother of Mary, Queen of Scots
*Maria Christina of Austria mother of Alfonso XIII of Spain
*Helen of Greece, mother of King Michael of Romania

Besides these examples, there have been many cases of queens consort being shrewd or ambitious stateswomen and, albeit unofficially, being among the King's major advisors. In some cases, the queen consort has been the chief power behind her husband's throne; e.g. Maria Luisa of Parma, wife of Carlos IV of Spain, and Alexandra Fyodorovna (Alix of Hesse), wife and Empress Consort of Nicholas II of Russia.

A potential exception to the rule of referring to the wife of the monarch as queen consort may be Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, spouse of Charles, Prince of Wales. When their wedding was announced it was declared that, in the event of Charles's ascent to the British throne, Camilla would assume the title of Princess Consort and not that of Queen. Subsequent British ministerial comment during Parliamentary discussion confirmed, however, that she would necessarily retain the legal prerogatives reserved for, and the legal title of, a British queen consort. In the other Realms such as Australia, Canada and New Zealand, there is no constitutional position as queen consort. It is merely a courtesy title.

Joint rule

There are a few cases in which a married couple has ruled a kingdom jointly. Ferdinand II of Aragon and his wife Isabella, a Queen in her own right, Isabella I of Castile, ruled their kingdoms as one dominion. Ferdinand was also called Ferdinand V of Castile. However, the two kingdoms would not be legally united until the monarchs' grandson Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, acceded to both thrones as Charles I of Spain.

The joint reign of William III and Mary II of England resulted from a unique and "extra-legal" change by the Parliament of England to the law of succession. When Mary Stuart, Protestant daughter and heiress presumptive of James II, was displaced in the order of succession by the birth of a son to his Catholic queen consort, Protestant fears were legitimately provoked. Mary's husband, William of Orange, Stadtholder of the Protestant Netherlands and also a descendant of James I, was invited by the leaders of Parliament to ascend the throne of his deposed father-in-law. After James II fled the country, Parliament offered the crown to William and Mary jointly, as neither the Whigs nor the Tories would accept Mary's ascension alone. The couple remained childless, and William ruled alone after Mary's death in 1694. The future Queen Anne's claims had been deferred by Parliament until his death.

Examples of royal consorts

Past queens consort:
* Queen Mary, consort of George V
* Queen Alexandra, consort of Edward VII
* Queen Elizabeth, consort of George VI
* Queen Fabiola, consort of Baudouin I of the Belgians
* Queen Marie José, consort of Umberto II of Italy
* Queen Kapiolani, consort of King Kalākaua of Hawaiokinai
* Queen Soraya Tarzi, consort of King Amanullah Khan of Afghanistan
* Tsaritsa Ioanna, consort of Tsar Boris III of Bulgaria
* Empress Farah Pahlavi, consort of Mohammad Reza Shah of Iran
* Queen Fawzia, consort of Mohammad Reza Shah of Persia
* Panapillai Amma (queen consort) Srimathi Lakshmi Pilla Kochamma Chempakaraman Arumana Ammaveedu, wife of Visakham Thirunal Maharajah of Travancore.

See Royal Consorts of the United Kingdom and its predecessor realms for a more complete list of queens consort of the United Kingdom.

Present queens consort:
* Queen Paola, consort of Albert II of the Belgians
* Queen Rania, consort of Abdullah II of Jordan
* Queen Silvia, consort of Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden
* Queen Sirikit, consort of Rama IX of Thailand
* Queen Sofia, consort of Juan Carlos I of Spain
* Queen Sonja, consort of Harald V of Norway
* Queen 'Masenate, consort of Letsie III of Lesotho
* Empress Michiko, consort of Akihito of Japan
* Queen Sylvia, consort of Muwenda Mutebi II of Buganda. Her official title is Nnabagereka of Buganda

Because queens consort lack an ordinal with which to distinguish between them, many historical texts and encyclopedias refer to deceased consorts by their pre-marital or maiden name or title, not by their marital royal title.


* Queen Mary, consort of George V, is usually called Mary of Teck
* Queen Maria José, consort of Umberto II of Italy, is usually called Marie José of Belgium
* Queen Philippa, consort of John I of Portugal, is usually called Philippa of Lancaster
* Queen Catherine, first consort of Henry VIII, is called Catherine of Aragon
* Queen Catherine, consort of Charles II, is called Catherine of Braganza.

ee also

*List of Holy Roman Empresses and German queens
*Queens and Empresses of France
*Royal Consorts of the United Kingdom, Great Britain and England
*Royal Consorts of Portugal
*Royal Consorts of Spain
*Royal Consorts of Bohemia
*Royal Consorts of Hawaii
*Swedish Queens

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Queen consort — Consort Con sort (k[o^]n s[^o]rt), n. [L. consore, sortis; con + sors lot, fate, share. See {Sort}.] 1. One who shares the lot of another; a companion; a partner; especially, a wife or husband. Milton. [1913 Webster] He single chose to live, and… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Queen consort — Queen Queen, n. [OE. quen, quene, queen, quean, AS. cw[=e]n wife, queen, woman; akin to OS. qu[=a]n wife, woman, Icel. kv[=a]n wife, queen, Goth. q[=e]ns. [root]221. See {Quean}.] 1. The wife of a king. [1913 Webster] 2. A woman who is the… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • queen consort — n. the wife of a reigning king …   English World dictionary

  • Queen Consort — Als queen consort (dt. Königsgemahlin, Gemahlin des Königs) bezeichnet man im englischen Sprachgebrauch im Gegensatz zur queen regnant (dt. regierende Königin) eine Königin bzw. Queen, welche diesen Status nicht aus eigenem Recht, sondern… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Queen consort — Als queen consort (dt. Königsgemahlin, Gemahlin des Königs) bezeichnet man im englischen Sprachgebrauch im Gegensatz zur queen regnant (dt. regierende Königin) eine Königin bzw. Queen, welche diesen Status nicht aus eigenem Recht, sondern… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • queen consort — The wife of the reigning king of England. As queen consort, by virtue of her marriage, she possesses various prerogatives above all other women of the kingdom. See 1 Bl Comm 218 …   Ballentine's law dictionary

  • queen consort — queen′ con′sort n. gov the wife of a reigning monarch • Etymology: 1755–65 …   From formal English to slang

  • queen consort — noun (plural queens consort) Date: 1765 the wife of a reigning king …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • queen consort — noun the wife of a reigning king • Hypernyms: ↑queen …   Useful english dictionary

  • queen consort — the wife of a ruling king. [1755 65] * * * …   Universalium

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