What is a Queen Consort?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A Queen Consort is a woman who earns the title of queen because she is married to a king. She typically has no official political power, and she may not legally hold the throne in many nations after her husband's death, although she may act as regent to care for the kingdom until her children grow up. The male counterpart of a Queen Consort is a King Consort.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

Typically, a Queen Consort is of royal blood, but she is not entitled to rule her country by birthright like her husband, the King Regnant. In the case of a King Consort, the Queen rules the country by right. In both cases, the title is given as a courtesy, recognizing the important role of the Queen or King Consort in the life of the monarch. The Queen Consort is also typically entitled to the same titles as her husband, and she must be treated with the same gravity and respect to which her husband is accustomed.

In addition to Queens Consort, it is also possible to find Princesses Consort and Empresses Consort, along with Princes Consort and so forth. As a general rule, when someone marries a King, the King and his advisers confer the title of Consort upon her. However, in some cases she may be given a different title, for political or social reasons. For example, it is rumored that Camilla Parker-Bowles, the Duchess of Cornwall, will be known as Princess Consort when her husband takes the throne of England.

Although a Queen Consort does not officially have political power, she is often a very powerful and prominent social figure. Many Kings take advice from their Consorts and consider their input into the running of the nation, so although the woman is not officially the monarch, she does in some sense act as one.

The Queen Consort is also an important public figure for the monarchy. She participates in social events, sponsors charities, and engages in various social and political issues in her nation, and often becomes a prominent and well-loved figure. Many have famously supported specific causes, ranging from children's welfare to votes for women. She is also, of course, the mother of the heirs to the throne.

In rare cases, Kings and Queens have ruled their nations and holdings equally, with neither partner being considered a consort. In general, this has occurred when a King Regnant and a Queen Regnant marry, uniting two empires.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


When we learned about ancient Egypt, it was mentioned that the Egyptian queen consorts had a lot of political power. But since the Egyptian Kings married many woman, some queen consorts were more powerful than others.

If a queen consort's son became King, she had political say and even ruled until her son grew up. But queen consorts who did not have children that took the throne, did not have any power.

This system I think is sort of similar to Ottoman wives. They also did not have official roles but could rule the empire, or could influence their husbands, especially if they had sons in line for the throne.

I think that giving birth to an heir has actually been really important for queen consorts in history.


The authority and power of the Queen Consort is unofficial. But am I right in understanding that how influential the Queen Consort is on the political and social affairs of the country depends on the Queen and the King?

If the King disliked his Queen to interfere in important matters, the Queen would not be able to. Likewise, if the Queen is disinterested in the affairs that her husband is dealing with, no one will ask or force her to partake in it.

The Queen consort is really a self-defined and somewhat flexible role I think. Am I right?


In the case of Britain, I think that the wife of the King automatically becomes Queen.

I have also heard the rumors that Camilla Parker-Bowles will not be given the title of queen consort because she had a relationship with Prince Charles when he was married to Princess Diana and both have been divorced and now are married.

I don't think that this is true. I doubt that the Royal family in Britain would change their long-standing tradition. If Camilla becomes Princess Consort instead of Queen Consort when Charles becomes King, it should be because that's what she wants.

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