Finally Buckingham Palace accepts the reality that the wife of a king is a queen, writes Peter Hunt

5 April 2023, 13:32 | Updated: 5 April 2023, 13:33

The wife of a king is a queen, writes Peter Hunt for LBC
The wife of a king is a queen, writes Peter Hunt for LBC. Picture: LBC
Peter Hunt

By Peter Hunt

Queen Camilla. Finally. It’s taken 18 years for Buckingham Palace to accept publicly the reality of centuries of precedent. The wife of a king is a queen.

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Public opinion is what has caused the royals to tiptoe towards this moment. When the engagement of Charles and Camilla was announced in 2005, it was made clear that Camilla ‘intended’ to be known as Princess Consort when her husband fulfilled his destiny.

I once saw a planning document in which the palace tried out the use of King’s Consort as a possible way of referring to the future queen.

Significant progress, but not a complete breakthrough, came at the start of Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee. She knew the question of whether Camilla would be crowned would dominate the start of her son’s reign if it wasn’t resolved in advance.

So she acted decisively, declaring it was her ‘sincere wish’ that Camilla be known as Queen Consort when the time came.

And it has. What could be called, Operation Don’t Scare the Horses, has been behind the approach to Camilla’s title. The Windsors have been terrified of getting ahead of public opinion, rather than keeping in step with it.

Their caution is born of the bruises inflicted on them by recent history. Such was the antipathy to the then Camilla Parker-Bowles in the Nineties, that a totally made-up story about someone throwing a bread roll at her in a supermarket car park succeeded in gaining traction.

And Diana’s “there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded” was brutally effective. The rejected wife was the People’s Princess. Her replacement was the prince’s mistress.

The former lover is now Queen.

Camilla has played a royal blinder. Hearty and human in public. Ruthless, when necessary, in private.

A canny Camilla and the passage of time mean Buckingham Palace can finally relax and jettison Princess Consort and Queen Consort.

Next month, the wife of the King will be anointed with holy oil and crowned during a solemn religious ceremony in an ancient abbey.

It’ll be a pinch-yourself moment. Queen Camilla’s transformation will be complete.