What Will Happen To Camilla If She Outlives Charles

    Camilla Parker Bowles — Queen Consort — has had a rollercoaster of a journey within the royal family. For a long time, no one thought she would get close to the throne, let alone become Queen. But she made it. So what comes next? Her husband, King Charles III, is already in his seventies, which raises the question: what happens if Camilla outlives Charles? Does she retain her title? Does she get to keep all the privileges she currently enjoys?

    Rules of succession

    There are lots of rules and protocols that govern the British royal family. So when Charles does eventually die— although chances are that just like his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, he’ll live to a ripe old age — there will be lots of cogs turning behind the scenes. One thing is for sure, though: Camilla won’t get to rule the United Kingdom solo if Charles dies before her. That’s because she’s a royal by marriage, rather than by birth.

    But as it stands, Camilla isn’t technically ruling at the moment either. She’s not Queen in the way that Elizabeth was: she’s meant to be a support for her husband rather than a monarch in her own right. Being crowned alongside Charles didn’t actually change her life as a royal spouse all that much. She still has many of the same duties — just a different status.

    Equal status

    Charles very much wanted his wife to have equal status with him at the actual coronation, though. When the invitations for the event went out, they announced the couple as “King Charles III and Queen Camilla” rather than Queen Consort Camilla as many people had expected. But even getting that “consort” title had been a long and difficult journey for Camilla.

    Love triangle

    Camilla’s status as Charles’ second wife — and the woman with whom he’d cheated on Princess Diana — made things complicated. At the beginning of her relationship with Charles, she was very unpopular, and Diana’s death in a car crash made things much worse. For a while, the general public were not her biggest fans at all, and there seemed no chance she’d ever be queen.

    Public relations

    And yet Camilla stuck it out. As time passed, Charles’ P.R. team worked hard to try and establish her as someone who wasn’t a threat to the establishment or to the memory of Diana. Slowly people seemed to come around. It helped, of course, that Charles really did seem very much in love with her and wanted her to have all the privileges he did.

    But the idea of Camilla being Queen took an even longer time. Titles are, after, all one of the most important things about being royal. Camilla didn’t even call herself the Princess of Wales after marrying Charles, because that title had once been Diana’s. And for a long time, it was agreed that Camilla would call herself Princess Consort once Charles became King, not Queen Consort.

    “No change”

    This was the case as late in the game as 2020. That year, rumors started spreading that Camilla would become Queen Consort after all, leading Clarence House to release a statement saying, “The intention is for the duchess to be known as Princess Consort when the prince accedes to the throne. This was announced at the time of the marriage and there has been absolutely no change at all.”

    Many opinions

    Royal experts gave their opinions to the media at the same time. An anonymous person from the University College London’s constitutional unit told The Times, “Prince Charles will no doubt have regard to public opinion at the time of his accession, in deciding whether Camilla should become Queen; and he may also want to seek the advice of the government of the day.”

    “Interesting documentaries”

    Even Camilla’s own son, Tom Parker Bowles, stepped in to offer an opinion on the matter. In May 2021 he told The Times in an interview, “I honestly don’t know if Mom will be called ‘Queen.’ That hasn’t been decided. There are a lot of interesting Sky documentaries about that I’m sure, but I honestly don’t know if that’s true.”

    “The fullness of time”

    However, in the end, it was Elizabeth who changed everything: in February 2022 she made a statement that few were expecting. She informed the world that it was her “most sincere wish” that “in the fullness of time, Camilla will be known as the Queen Consort as she continues her own loyal service.” And before the year was out, that came to pass.


    Before the coronation, the “Queen Consort Camilla” title was shortened to just “Queen Camilla.” An anonymous insider told the Daily Mail in February, “There’s a view in the Palace that ‘Queen Consort’ is cumbersome and it might be simpler for Camilla to be known just as ‘the Queen’ when the time is right. Her Majesty is the Queen after all. Prince Philip was Prince Consort officially, but he wasn’t known as Prince Consort.”

    People on the street

    The “cumbersome” issue is one to which the royal family seems to have given a lot of thought. In 2022, after Elizabeth died, royal blogger Kinsey Schofield told Insider, “The royal class system does not exist in the way that it used to, so its significance is much less. The royals we watch and admire today don’t necessarily marry for politics or to ‘secure’ power anymore. Queen Consort, Queen Regent, Queen Regnant. Ask a person on the street to tell you the difference and they likely can’t… and don’t care.”

    The definition

    The official British royal family website once had a quick guide to what a Queen Consort actually is. It stated, “Unless decided otherwise, a Queen Consort is crowned with the King, in a similar but simple ceremony. If the new Sovereign is a Queen, her Consort is not crowned or anointed at the coronation ceremony.” That’s why Prince Philip wasn’t.


    The reason for a male Consort not being crowned is all to do with historic sexism. A king had to outrank a queen no matter what, so that naturally presented problems when a married woman found her way onto the throne. So instead of getting to become king to match his wife’s title of queen, Philip was stuck with prince.

    Menai Bridge

    As you can see, transitioning the United Kingdom from Elizabeth and Philip to Charles and Camilla was a long process that required lots of planning in advance. And now, those same plans are being drawn up for Charles’ eventual death. This is called “Operation Menai Bridge,” named after the bridge that connects Anglesey and Wales.

    London Bridge

    Similar plans were put in place before Elizabeth’s death. In fact, preparations for her passing began long before it actually happened: decades in advance, in fact. This was called “Operation London Bridge” and it involved a long list of British institutions, including the Church of England and the British armed forces. Apparently, Elizabeth herself collaborated in the plan, as did Charles.

    The media

    Operation London Bridge was so detailed it even dictated how the British media should behave after Elizabeth’s death. Radio stations were supposed to switch to the news right away and then begin playing music already prepared in advance. On TV, newsreaders had to instantly start wearing black suits and ties. Chances are, the exact same things will happen when Charles passes away.

    Careful planning

    Planning for a death so far in advance seems a little ghoulish, but that’s just how it is when it comes to the royal family. In 2022 former royal protection officer Simon Morgan spoke to 9News just after Elizabeth’s death. He said, “Unfortunately, as of tomorrow morning, planning for Operation Menai Bridge will start in earnest… [Charles] is 73 years of age, it’s got to be in the back of your mind, and from the police, we’ve got to start planning again for the future.”


    Operation Menai Bridge covers everything involving the period of mourning, the State Funeral, and of course the details of who will follow after Charles. This will almost certainly be William, but on the tiniest off-chance something happens to him, the crown would go to his oldest son George. But since George is still a child, Prince Harry would probably have to step in as Regent until he was of age.

    Rules of regency

    Unfortunately, the Regent Harry possibility most likely wouldn’t be good for anybody. After all, Harry stopped being a working royal in 2020 and since then there’s been nothing but reports of feuds between him and the rest of the family. But he is still very much the next adult heir in line after young George.

    Big change

    But the most likely option is, William becomes King. That will mean another big change for the United Kingdom and, of course, for the royal family. George will become the direct heir and Kate, who’s currently the Princess of Wales, will become Queen Consort just like Camilla before her. And again, just like Camilla, most people will simply call her “Queen” instead.

    Not the Queen Mother

    Would Camilla then become the Queen Mother, as Elizabeth’s mother had after outliving her own spouse? Nope! Since Camilla is the stepmother to William and Harry, not the biological mother, she’s not actually entitled to use that title. Instead, she would most likely be known from that point on as the Queen Dowager.

    Diana’s titles

    This probably wouldn’t have been the case if Diana had stayed married to Charles and lived to see William take the throne. She would have been entitled to be called “Queen Mother” then, as she would have been the mother of the monarch. But of course, sadly, that never happened. And Charles actually marrying Camilla shook everything up.


    Another interesting question is, could Camilla marry again if she outlives Charles, and what would happen then? Well, yes she could, as could any widow of a monarch. Yet if she did, she would lose her status within the royal family, unless the monarch stepped in and allowed her to keep her titles. In that case, though, the British government would have to agree on what those titles were.

    Love story

    It’s hard to picture Camilla marrying someone else, though. Her romance with Charles may have started out controversially, but it’s clear that they love each other very much. They’ve certainly proved the naysayers wrong, in any case. If they’d been allowed to be married from the start, instead of Charles being pushed to marry Diana, everyone might have been saved a lot of heartache.

    An unlikely matchmaker

    It may come as a surprise, then, that it was actually with Camilla’s help that Charles and Diana got together in the first place. After some cajoling, he finally settled on a suitable spouse in the form of Lady Diana Spencer. But despite their fairytale wedding ceremony at St. Paul’s Cathedral in 1981, many still claimed that his heart was left longing for his former flame. The course of true love never did run smooth! But after defying all the odds and making it as a couple, it would seem a tragedy for Camilla to become a widow. But were it to happen, she’d receive yet another title.

    Queen Dowagers

    A Queen Dowager is the title generally given to the widow of a king. But there hasn’t been a British Queen Dowager, as opposed to a Queen Mother, for quite a while now. There have been plenty of them throughout history, though. Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen, the wife of William IV, ended up becoming one after all her own children died in infancy. Like Camilla, she had also been a stepmother to her royal husband’s kids.

    Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen

    Adelaide had a pretty sad life, all things considered. Not only did she lose all her children, she lost her husband too, before dying at the age of 57 after spending 12 years as Queen Dowager. But her niece was none other than Queen Victoria, who named one of her children after Adelaide and made her the godmother. And when Adelaide died, she was buried in the same chapel as her husband. Camilla’s story isn’t so sad, luckily. But will she also be buried with her husband when the time comes?

    Royal burials

    The most likely answer is a simple: yes. Most members of the royal family are buried at the King George VI Memorial Chapel at Windsor Castle. When Elizabeth died, for example, Philip was moved from a temporary resting place in the Royal Vault below St George’s Chapel to lie next to her. King George VI and his wife are likewise buried together there. Of course, Camilla isn’t the first in British history to hold the title of Queen Consort.

    The elite eight

    In fact, Camilla is one of a very elite eight who have donned a crown and gained the title. There have also been three male Consorts in British history: Prince George, Prince Albert, and most recently, Prince Philip. But who was the first Queen Consort? Back in the early 1700s, there was Caroline of Brandenburg-Ansbach, or Queen Caroline, who ascended to the throne when she married King George II. Then came Queen Charlotte, but perhaps the saddest tale of all the queen consorts in British royal history belongs to Caroline of Brunswick.

    A marriage of convenience

    Like her two predecessors in the ceremonial role, Queen Caroline was born in Germany, meaning it was her marriage to the man who would later become King George IV that tied her to the British royal family. Unfortunately, their relationship was not a happy one. The union was arranged for one reason. George — who had enjoyed an illicit marriage to a Roman Catholic woman for 11 years — had gotten himself horribly into debt, and desperately needed to pay it off. Caroline would ultimately leave Britain and be barred from her own husband’s coronation.

    The succession of consorts

    The other women to hold the title included Queen Adelaide, who enjoyed a tenure of almost exactly seven years alongside King William IV. Next up there was Princess Alexandra of Denmark who would finally break the chain of German-born queen consorts in the British royal family. Princess Mary of Teck — later to become Queen Mary (pictured) — followed on. And the final female consort before Camilla was Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. Or, as most people know her, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.

    Most hated woman in Britain

    And while according to NBC, Camilla — the eighth Queen Consort in British history — has now reached “national treasure status,” she hasn’t always been the most popular figure with the British public. The lowest point for Camilla probably came when Diana died in August 1997. The British media labeled her “the most hated woman in Britain” as mourning for Diana reached a fever pitch. Sources even suggest that she fell out of favor with perhaps the most important woman in Camilla’s life at the time — her mother-in-law, Queen Elizabeth II.

    “That wicked woman”

    One biographer allegedly quoted her as calling Camilla “that wicked woman,” after all. But was there really any tension? Well, as a traditionalist, Queen Elizabeth II didn’t approve of Charles’ unconventional relationship with Camilla. And in 1998 she even snubbed Charles’ 50th birthday party because of Camilla’s attendance. The couple married in 2005 — sans the Queen, who attended the reception instead.

    Tides of change

    All signs seem to point to the fact that Queen Elizabeth was reportedly not fond of Camilla at all in the early days, but as the new millennium got going and Charles and Camilla made more public appearances, that started to change. She seemed to realize that Charles was with Camilla for the long haul and, according to royal insiders, started to warm to her.

    A royal statement

    But no matter what, it was hard to get the general public to accept Camilla, especially with Diana’s tragic death lingering on in the world’s collective memory. When Charles and Camilla moved into Clarence House together, for example, the royal family even had to release a statement saying that no British taxpayer money would be used to house Camilla. That’s how much she was loathed.

    Popularity score

    Thankfully, Camilla has largely been able to rebuild her reputation and earn the nation’s trust in the years since her and Charles’ ill-timed affair. Her loyal companionship of her spouse — especially when he lost his beloved mother — has gone a long way in rebuilding Camilla’s reputation. And that’s reflected in Camilla’s popularity score among Britons, too. All in all, 40 percent of people like the Queen Consort. She has, after all, proven her loyalty to both King Charles and the people of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth.

    “Long live Queen Camilla”

    And when coronation day rolled around, Camilla’s tarnished name seemed to have been buried in the past. And as it happened — reputation or not — she had a much more public part in proceedings than any other monarch’s spouse who had come before her. Not only was Camilla’s portion of the ceremony televised and seemingly of equal importance to her husband’s crowning, but when she entered Westminster Abbey, the choir sang “Vivat Regina Camilla.” The line means “long live Queen Camilla.”

    Modernizing the crown

    Some have theorized this respect for Queen Camilla doesn’t just represent the end of people seeing her as “the other woman” in Charles’ life, but also as a modernization of the royal family. You see, the royal family’s traditions are in desperate need of an update, and a coronation is one of the most important (and public) times when these much-needed updates can happen.

    The future

    Who knows what changes will come during Charles and Camilla’s reign? In spite of all that they’ve been through over the years, their bond seems unbreakable, and no doubt ruling alongside each other will only bring them closer together. As for “Operation Menai Bridge,” though everything has all been planned in advance, it’s still probably a long way off. Hopefully, Camilla will enjoy getting to be Queen Consort with Charles for a while before she ever has to think about a future as a Queen Dowager.


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