In Depth

Will Camilla ever be queen?

Jewellery experts value Duchess of Cornwall’s engagement ring at staggering £78,000

While the Duchess of Cornwall may never be addressed as queen, she will certainly wear jewellery fit for a monarch.

Formerly known as Camillar Parker-Bowles, the Duchess's title has been contentious since before her wedding to Prince Charles.

But there was no question about the pedigree of her engagement ring, which a jewellery expert has revealed to be worth £78,000. That makes it one of the most valuable rings owned by the royal family.

Given to the Duchess by Prince Charles in 2005, the art deco style ring features a five-carat emerald-cut diamond with three diamond baguettes on each side.

According to Kathryn Money of the jewellery designers Brilliant Earth, it would have cost about £78,000.

While this undercuts the engagement ring given to former royal Meghan Markle - which is worth about £90,000 - its “extensive family heritage goes so far back that it is probably even more valuable than recent royal engagement rings”, including Kate Middleton’s, says the Daily Express.

According to the paper, the ring once belonged to the Queen Mother, Prince Charles' grandmother. However, it was not her engagement ring from King George VI and it is unknown where she acquired the now-famous heirloom.

Though the Duchess of Cornwall is now an established member of the royal family, it was recently revealed that she will not take the title of queen when Prince Charles becomes king.

Why won't she be queen Camilla?

Camilla has been formally known as Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall since she married Prince Charles in 2005.

As the wife of the Prince of Wales, she is entitled to take the name Princess of Wales, but has never used the title because of its association with the late Princess Diana.

What happens when Prince Charles becomes king?

The official line from Clarence House is that Camilla would adopt the title of princess consort when her husband assumes the throne.

However, according to Oxford University law professor Pavlos Eleftheriadis, the Duchess of Cornwall should be queen under the Treason Act 1351 and also as the sovereign’s wife under section two of the Regency Act 1937.

The wives of male royal family members typically obtain the equivalent title to their spouse when they marry. When Charles became a Duke, Camilla received the title Duchess - so when Charles becomes king, convention suggests she will become queen consort.

“The wife of a head of state is not a joint head of state, however. The sovereign reigns on his or her own. In that sense Camilla will be a ‘Queen’ in the limited legal sense of being the wife of the sovereign,” he told the Daily Star.

The Daily Express says “she will be the queen in the legal and symbolic sense, but this does not mean that she will be given the royal title”.

Could public opinion change?

Some commentators suggest the royal family is playing a long game, hoping to win over the public in time for Prince Charles to make her queen when he ascends to the throne.

Camilla has cemented her place in the royal family in recent years and was made a member of the Privy Council in 2016.

The Queen’s promotion of Camilla “was seen by many as possible signal that her son and heir intends to make her Queen Camilla”, says the Express.

The Spectator argues that Diana, Princess of Wales, “was and is, the great impediment to the Queen Camilla project”.

A recent YouGov poll found that Camilla was the 11th most popular royal, with 29% of those polled saying they had a positive opinion of her. She was only four places above Prince Andrew, who has a 17% approval - making him the least popular royal.

What is the precedent?

A new title would go against historical precedent, as the wives of ruling kings have traditionally become queen consorts - although the husbands of sovereign queens do not have the right to a royal title.

Following in the footsteps of Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria, the Duke of Edinburgh was given the title of Prince Philip in 1957, five years after the Queen took the throne. Her mother, who was married to King George VI, was known as Queen Elizabeth and then, after his death, the Queen Mother.

Though women traditionally receive an equivalent title to the male royal they marry, men are not honoured with an equivalent title to their wives. That’s why Prince Philip, 98, didn’t receive the title of king when he married Queen Elizabeth II.

This is because there are more variations of queen than there are of king.

“A queen can be a queen consort (married to a king), a queen regnant (reigning in her own right), or a queen dowager (mother of the reigning monarch),” says the Daily Express.

“Kings, however, only exist as kings regnant…Camilla will be a queen consort when Charles succeeds his mother. Philip, on the other hand, can’t be a king, since it’s his wife (the Queen Regnant) doing the reigning.”

So what about Kate?

Given the historical precedent, and more importantly the public standing enjoyed by William and Kate, it is unlikely that she will face public opposition when Prince William ascends to the throne.

While there will be no formal announcement until his coronation, it is widely assumed she will take the title of Queen Consort Katherine - or, informally, Queen Katherine.

And George, Charlotte and Louis?

The 1701 Act of Settlement laid out the line the succession to exclude Roman Catholics and prioritise male primogeniture, meaning royal sons took precedence over their female siblings, including first-born royal daughters.

This is why the Queen’s second eldest child, Princess Anne, is behind her younger brothers Prince Andrew and Edward in line to the throne.

Ahead of the birth of William and Kate’s first child, a public outcry over the antiquated law led to Parliament passing the Succession to the Throne Act 2013.

It states that for any royal births after 29 October 2011, the succession will be decided by birth order, regardless of gender. This means that Prince William’s second child, Princess Charlotte, will remain fourth line to the throne behind her brother, with Kate Middleton’s third child, Prince Louis, now fifth in line.

Although the bill was rushed through parliament ahead of the birth of Prince George in 2013, it did not formally become law until two years later, as it had to be ratified by all countries in the Commonwealth.

As well as changes to the succession, the act also allowed for members of the royal family to marry a Roman Catholic and become king or queen, and replaced he Royal Marriages Act 1772, meaning now only the first six in line to the throne need the Queen's consent to marry.

It did not, however, change the law to allow a Roman Catholic to become monarch.

What title can Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s children take?

The children of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry will not inherit the title of prince or princess.

Even before stepping down as royals, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex had decided their son would be styled as Master Archie Mountbatten-Windsor rather than taking a title, in accordance with their wish that he grow up as a private citizen.

And changes to the law brought in by Prince Harry’s great-great grandfather King George V limited titles within in the royal family.

The 1917 Letters Patent stipulated that “...the grandchildren of the sons of any such Sovereign in the direct male line (save only the eldest living son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales) shall have and enjoy in all occasions the style and title enjoyed by the children of Dukes of these Our Realms.”

But the Queen could have intervened and issued an exemption, just as she did with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s children, granting Charlotte and Louis the title Princess and Prince respectively.

Instead, the Queen has intervened in the opposite direction. Since Harry and Meghan’s decision to step down as royals, the Queen has stripped the couple of their titles and banned them from using their “SussexRoyal” brand.

Prince Harry is sixth in line to the throne, with baby Archie one place behind him.

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