If Queen Camilla Outlives King Charles, What Will Her Role Be?

As the stepmother of the future king, the title of Queen Mother is obviously out.

King Charles and Queen Camilla laugh while cutting a crown shaped cake
(Image credit: Getty)

There is historical precedent for when a Queen outlives a King—Queen Elizabeth’s mother, the Queen Mother, lived for another 50 years after her husband, King George VI, died in 1952—but what happens when the Queen is a stepmother to the future king? If Queen Camilla should outlive her husband, King Charles, what happens then?

Well, first of all, as The Mirror correctly points out, “she would not become the monarch, as that is passed down the bloodline, and so the Prince of Wales is the heir to the throne.” Okay, then what? Her new title would be Queen Dowager as the widow of the King, a title first used by Queen Adelaide in 1830. 

Queen Camilla's official Coronation portrait

(Image credit: Getty)

Camilla’s title has been the fodder of much speculation since she married Charles in 2005. Back then, it was said she would only ever be Princess Consort when her husband ascended to the throne. She also never went publicly by the Princess of Wales title (even though she was married to the Prince of Wales) because of that title’s deep association with Charles’ ex-wife Princess Diana, who died in 1997. She instead went by the Duchess of Cornwall, a partner title to Charles’ secondary title of Duke of Cornwall.

King Charles and Queen Camilla's official Coronation portrait

(Image credit: Getty)

Then, in 2022, Her late Majesty publicly requested that, when the time came that Camilla would be known as Queen Consort. After the late Queen died in September, Camilla was known as just that, but by the Coronation earlier this month Charles issued a royal warrant that Camilla be known simply as Queen Camilla.

Queen Camilla at a reading event with children

(Image credit: Getty)

“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,” a royal insider said earlier this year, per The Mirror. Camilla has adopted the Queen title since her crowning on May 6.

Rachel Burchfield
Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor

Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.