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What will Prince Charles’s succession be like?

For over 60 years now, Elizabeth II has reigned over the United Kingdom as Queen. Most people alive now have known no other Monarch and as a result, have never experienced a succession. Prince Charles, now 65, is the oldest male heir in history and one of the longest serving Princes of Wales – just what will his succession be like, and how will it affect the United Kingdom and the world.


For me, this article has been something long-in-the-making. I have never experienced a succession and because it’s been such a long time since the last one, I have found it very difficult to find the relevant information relating to it, such as people’s reactions and what changed, though using a variety of sources I hope to be able to piece together at least some insight into how the Prince of Wales’s succession may look.

To start with, it is highly unlikely that Her Majesty will abdicate – I think this much is clear to anyone who knows about Monarchy so, like for most successions in the British Monarchy, it will be upon the death of the Sovereign.

The Queen’s accession happened when King George VI died during the night of 5th-6th February 1952 at Sandringham House whilst Princess Elizabeth (now The Queen) was in Kenya. He was found by the King’s valet in the morning and the alarm was raised – Elizabeth found out 4 hours later that she was now Queen.

As morbid as it may sound, the Royal Household has plans fully laid out for deaths of members of the Royal Family – The Queen’s is codenamed Operation London Bridge and includes detailed plans for her funeral, laid out by her personally.

After members of the Royal Family, the first people to be informed of Her Majesty’s death would be the Prime Minister and the Government; Parliament is required to return to Parliament (if in recess) and to hold a sitting of the house. During this brief sitting, the house will express its condolences at the death of the Sovereign and also to arrange for oaths of allegiance to be taken to the new Monarch by the house.

The Prince of Wales will be urgently informed of his accession, either directly or through his private secretary. A meeting of the Accession Council will then be called to arrange for the proclamation of the new King’s accession to be made and also confirm the new King’s choice of regnal name (Charles III, George VII or another name).

By this point, the public would have been made aware of the accession through special news bulletins interrupting programmes on BBC and possibly other channels – the BBC, like the royal household, also have set procedures for reporting on royal deaths.

Public reaction will be the most interesting factor in the accession. In 1952, the public found out about the King’s death through radio and newspaper – the reaction was one of shock, disbelief but also interestingly – uncertainty, which one would suppose comes with a Monarchy. Monarchy is supposed to represent continuity and a succession is one of the most bizarre occurrences for all concerned.

The following weeks would consist of the lying-in-state of the Sovereign, beginning planning for the Coronation in a year’s time and reorganising the Royal Household for the new King.

It is worth noting though that the Monarchy will not end at the death of Her Majesty (as republicans would have you believe). Many countries’ Monarchies have experienced successions in recent years and whilst it’s not something you’d say was an easy experience and whilst of course it can come as a shock to nations, it is certainly not something new and the Royal Household and Government will ensure the transition is as careful as possible, however inconceivable it may seem to us now, having only known one Monarch.


  • Prince William would automatically assume the title of Duke of Cornwall (and be entitled to income from the Duchy) upon Prince Charles’s accession (becoming HRH The Duke of Cornwall and Cambridge), Catherine would become HRH The Duchess of Cornwall and Cambridge, they may choose just to go by one of these titles however.
  • The title of Prince of Wales must be granted to Prince William, it is not automatic (nor does it mean Catherine would become ‘Princess Catherine’ – which she will probably never become, for the record).
  • Prince Harry would become HRH The Prince Henry ‘Harry’ (and lose the designation ‘of Wales’).
  • Automatically, the Duchess of Cornwall would become Her Majesty Queen Camilla upon the Prince of Wales’s succession, though according to Clarence House she will be known as HRH The Princess Consort, many experts dispute this will happen.
  • Flags would fly at half mast until the funeral in the UK and likely across the world.
  • The Royal Mint and Bank of England would be looking to start putting Prince Charles’s head on new banknotes and coins, likewise for stamps at Royal Mail.
  • The national anthem would become God Save the King.

If you have any comments or questions relating to the Prince of Wales’s succession, or indeed this article, please leave them in the comments box below.

photo credit: tamara.craiu via photopin cc

  • Karen119

    I have been fortunate enough to have attended the Ceremony of the Keys at The Tower of London on two separate occasions. I think it must be extremely sad when the participants must change the dialogue from “Queen Elizabeth’s keys” to “King Charles’ keys”.

    • gareth

      it will never be king Charles ….
      he will choose his own name and charles is considered unlucky for a king

      • simhedges

        He have only had two Charleses. One was beheaded, the other died peacefully in his bed. George could be considered an unlucky name, given that George III went mad, and George IV had his only child die before him; Henry could be considered an unlucky name because Henry VI was deposed, and then died in suspicious circumstances; then there’s Richard I (killed in battle), II (deposed), and III (bad rep, chronic illness, and died in battle ), William II (shot with an arrow) and III (thrown off his horse). In fact, when it comes to Kings of England, and Scotland, and the UK, there aren’t that many names which are unsullied by an unfortunate reign or death.

        • YoKasta Martinez

          You’re forgetting Prince Charles’ grandfather, George VI, who led the UK through WWII, as well as his great-grandfather George V. It’s highly unlikely that he would choose Arthur as his regnal name for obvious reasons, just like it’s doubtful he would choose Philip (in addition to there already being a ruling monarch named Philip, aka King Felipe of Spain.) My money is on him becoming George VII.

          • simhedges

            What makes you think I am forgetting the late King, or George V? I didn’t mention a large number of British monarchs (good, bad, unfortunate) that I am perfect well aware of.

          • Anne Williams

            Yokasta Martinez: Re: Battenberg title: Ludwig II of Hesse & Rhine married Wilhelmina of Baden.She had 4 children , Louis, who became the 3rd of Hesse & Rhine and the younger two were Alexander and Marie. Wilhemina had a long time lover with whom she lived called Baron August Senarclens de Grancy her Chamberlain so the last two were not supposed to to his.. When Alexander’s brother succeeded as Louis 3rd, He gave the title of Battenberg to his brother Alexander , who also caused a scandal as he married Julia Hauke, a lady in waiting? to Tsarina Marie, his sister against the wishes of Tzar Alexander

        • Anne Williams

          How about King Alfred,(the Great)my hero!! or Phillip,altho not a British King, is another.You are so right Yokasta, King George VI was the monarch who battled against the odds with his stammer etc but lead his country with Churchill and saved us from a fate worse than death.The name, George is what is rumoured. or Llewllyn the Welsh Chieftan ir Owain Glyndwr. High time the Princes of Wales took a good Welsh name Guess they already have being named David or Daffyd in Welsh..

          • Ricky

            David was one of the last Prince of Wales’ names, the late King Edward VIII / Duke of Windsor. He was always called “David” by his family, too.

      • Given that we live in the 21st century, I doubt very seriously that Charles would choose a name other than his own. That would be archaic and confusing.

  • Robert English

    What happens say if the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall are on a state visit and HM The Queen dies ????

    • Royal Central

      This is a similar scenario to what happened when The Queen acceded to the throne. She was in Kenya when her father died and she became Queen. Should this happen with the Prince of Wales, he would be informed immediately and return to the UK at the earliest possible time to deal with accession business.

      Hope this helps 🙂

      • Robert


    • Sandra Mettler

      The same thing that happened when Elizabeth became Queen. Her dad (George VI) died while she was on a State Visit to Kenya with her husband.

      • simhedges

        The only difference is that she immediately became the head of state of the country she was in at the time, whereas Charles may not be. It would make little difference in reality.

  • Robert English

    Could the New King move to Windsor Castle ???

    • Royal Central

      It’s been discussed that Prince Charles would like to move the court to Windsor Castle when he becomes King, though I don’t think it’s likely – the court needs to be based in central London for operational reasons really. Not impossible, though highly unlikely.

  • Gloriana

    Really enjoyed the article. I wanted to keep reading and reading.
    After such a great Monarch, I’m sure this succession will also be a time of uncertainty.
    I ave a spanish blog about the british monarchy and know the opinion latinamericans have of Prince Charles is not very positive. Of course the opinion that counts is the one of the UK, but I really wish the entire world can embrace him as a new monarch when the time comes (hopefully not soon).

    This article had very interesting comments in our Fb page. Wanted to share it, if your are interested. Google translate it or something 🙂


    • Ricky

      This really is addictive, isn’t it? When I saw that your comment was the last one on this thread, it made me a little sad, since I enjoy it so much. Thanks for providing the link; I’m going to check it out right now!

  • Tahira Nawaz

    “Long may she reign
    May she defend our law
    and ever give us cause to sing
    with heart and voice
    God save the Queen”

    My best thoughts and wishes for the Prince of Wales.

  • Robert English

    Why does the Royal Household have to stay in central London????

    • Royal Central

      Not that it has to, just it’s unlikely that anything else would work as effectively because London’s where the main business of state is conducted from. It’s accessible and at the heart of the country.

  • Robert English

    Could the Duchess of Cornwall chance her name when The Prince of Wales becomes King

    • Royal Central

      There’s nothing that says she couldn’t, though it’s unlikely, consorts don’t tend to change their names upon their spouses succession.

      • Sacto John

        Queen Mary did. George V did not like double names so she changed her name from Victoria Mary

        • Julia Murray

          Actually I believe she was known by her middle name from childhood, or rather a nickname for it; before her marriage she was known as Princess May of Teck.

  • Robert English

    Would the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge become the Prince and Princess of Wales ( when HM The Queen dies and the Prince of Wales becomes King???

    • Royal Central

      This title would have to be issued to Prince William at the will of the new King, though there’s no reason why not.

  • Robert English

    Where would the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge also Prince Henry live as ( at the moment the Cambridges live at KP ( also Prince Henry lives at KP ) .The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall live at Clarence House when HM The Queen dies where would the Cambridges and Prince Henry live ???, what would happen to Clarence House?? also KP??. I have heard that The Prince of Wales wants a more smaller Royal Family what would happen to the Duke of York,??, and the other members of the Royal Family ???

    • Royal Central

      They would likely remain at Kensington Palace. There’s nothing that says the heir has to live at Clarence House – Prince Charles has lived at Kensington Palace and St James’s Palace before.

      In the ‘smaller’ Royal Family idea that’s supposedly attributed to the Prince of Wales, there’d be less working royals and more focus on the core members of the Royal Family.

    • Nick

      It might be that Prince Philip would move into Clarence House, and the Cambridges and Prince Harry would stay at KP. That is what has happened in the past, and what will probably happen in the future. It is also said that Prince Philip might move into Frogmore house, Windsor, if he were to outlive the Queen.

      • Ricky

        Before the death of King George VI, Prince Philip and then-Princess Elizabeth lived at Clarence House, after having it extensively redecorated. I’ve read that he and his young family were very comfortable there, and that he wanted it to be the royal family’s home. He proposed using Buckingham Palace as “the office,” but that Winston Churchill was quite shocked at the idea, and told him that was out of the question.

        Maybe Prince Philip would like the idea of returning to Clarence House?

        • Royal Central

          That’s true, it’s quite possible. The Queen Mother moved to Clarence House shortly after the death of George VI.

          • Kenneth C Stalsworth

            Well, if you consider a year to be a short time, then yes The Queen Mother moved from Buckingham Palace to Clarence House shortly after husband’s death. Poor lady, she did not want to leave Buckingham Palace. This story makes me smile because it reminds me how the late Queen Mother lived her life pretty much as she pleased, a few gin and tonics and the racing form!

        • Eric Hufford

          Frogmore House is being prepped for Prince Philip

    • Ricky

      Doesn’t Prince Harry live at Clarence House now?

      • Royal Central

        He lives at Kensington Palace.

  • Robert English

    When would the new King and new Queen crowned ??? a

    • Royal Central

      About a year after acceding.

  • Expat in Canada

    If Prince Philip never became ‘King’ and Kate would most likely not become ‘Princess’ then why would Camilla be allowed the title ‘Queen’? There is only one Queen and no one can follow in her footsteps. Just sayin’…

    • Royal Central

      Prince Philip didn’t become King because in the UK, a wife takes their husbands style unless theirs is higher, but not the other way around. Kate won’t be a princess because it’s a title reserved for royalty-by-birth and Camilla will be Queen because she’ll take the female form of her husband’s title, though she’ll possibly be known by a different title, like she is now ‘Duchess of Cornwall’.

      • Ricky

        Wasn’t the elder Duchess of Gloucester given the title “Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester” after her husband’s death?

        Forgive me if I’m a bit confused, but then I’m an American and have been wrong about royal titles before.

      • Ted Thomas Martin

        It was… might say “sexist” really; that Phillip was not “King” .

        • Jamie Middleditch

          Not sexist its how it has always been in the Uk and will stay like it. if Phillipp became king he would be the highest but a male brought into the family cant over crown their wife because she is Royal by blood

          • Ted Thomas Martin

            LOL always been that way or not it IS sexist. I do understand the why, but it is because he was a man. Women will be named queen, blood or not, but a man NO. That is called sexist.

          • Rachael

            King is a higher title than Queen. Phillip is not the sovereign, his wife is. His title can’t trump hers. Not sexist at all.

          • Actually, the fact that a King is higher than a Queen simply because a king is male, IS sexist. I don’t feel strongly about it one way or the other, but it is by definition sexist.

          • Ricky

            Not necessarily, Anna. In countries where the title is used, King Consort is a lesser title than Queen Regnant. There aren’t too many examples of this, but there have been a few.

          • Douglas Stuart

            But isn’t Prince Phillip also a Royal by blood? His Grandmother was a daughter of Queen Victoria, who is his G-Grandmother. Doesn’t he also have the title of HRH? As far as Camilla, wouldn’t she only be a Consort without a royal tidal ? Also, Duchess Catherine is not a Royal so what would her title be? And would Harry now be Prince Henry of Windsor? Me think it is all confusing , glad I am only now a Texas boy having lost his Royal status because on no prodestant Stuart after Queen Anne. Poor Arabella.

          • Ricky

            Philip was born with the title “Prince of Greece and Denmark.” But he renounced his foreign royal titles when he became a British subject, as all foreign princes and princesses must do when marrying into the Royal Family.

            When he married then-Princess Elizabeth in 1947, he was ennobled with the title “Duke of Edinburgh” by his new father-in-law, King George VI.

            He wasn’t a prince again until The Queen issued a Letters Patent in 1957, giving him the designation, “Prince of the United Kingdom.”

          • Laura Deagler

            Harry will become the Prince Harry as the son of the King. Noone in the family has Windsor as title is their surname when one is used for titled royals his Moubatten Windsor. Do research.

            Here’s an example, Tbe Queen
            21 April 1926 – 11 December 1936: Her Royal Highness Princess Elizabeth of York
            11 December 1936 – 20 November 1947: Her Royal Highness The Princess Elizabeth
            20 November 1947 – 6 February 1952: Her Royal Highness The Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh
            6 February 1952 – present: Her Majesty The Queen

      • Frank Graham

        Might William not proclaim Catherine a princess with that title? The Queen proclaimed Philip a prince in 1957.

        • YoKasta Martinez

          Actually, Prince Philip was already a Prince, albeit a Greek one. In order for her to marry him he had to give up his claim to the Greek throne and swear allegiance to the UK and the then-Princess Elizabeth.

          • simhedges

            Yes, but the point is that he was not a Prince of the United Kingdom, but the Queen chose to make him one, and did it. The new King could, if he chose, make her the Princess Catherine if he chose to do so.

          • YoKasta Martinez

            Technically speaking, she is the Princess William via her marriage. If he predeceased her before becoming King, she would simply be the Dowager Duchess of Cambridge. When William becomes King, she will be the Queen Consort, not a Princess.

            You should be embarrassed that an American knows more about how the nobility and titles work than you do.

          • Ricky

            If William was to die whilst Queen Elizabeth II is still on the throne, Catherine would be known as HRH Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.

            The only way she would be the Dowager Duchess of Cambridge would be if Prince George was to marry while the Queen and Prince Charles were still living following William’s death. If that happened, Her Majesty would be at least 110 years old, so this is highly unlikely.

            She is not the Princess William, and never could be. Only a child of the sovereign is entitled to the word “the” in front of their name.

            I’m an American, too! 😉

          • simhedges

            My point was that titles are at the discretion of the monarch. Nothing that you have said alters that. I am not at all embarrassed for, accurately, pointing out the truth.

          • Suzan Smith

            You don’t know everything dearie; there is no such title as Queen Consort. The Duchess of Cambridge will become Queen Catherine

          • Ricky

            When William becomes King, Catherine’s title will be Her Majesty the Queen, and her role will be that of Queen Consort. If King William V predeceases her, she would be known as HM Queen Catherine.

          • Suzan Smith

            Yes her role will be Queen Consort, not her title

          • Ricky

            If Catherine predeceased William now, she would continue to be what she is now; the Duchess of Cambridge. If Prince George married while he still carried the title Duke of Cambridge, his wife would take Catherine’s present title. Only then would Catherine become Dowager Duchess of Cambridge.

          • Jamie Middleditch

            You do know Geek throne was taken away from the Greek royal family years and years before he married the Queen

          • YoKasta Martinez

            Yes, I DO know that; however, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any living members of the Greek royal family still living and hoping for a restoration of the monarchy there. Prince Philip was also a Prince of Denmark through his mother’s blood too; he also had to renounce ANY claim he may have had too that throne as well, however distant the claim. Didn’t YOU know all the members of the royal houses of Europe are ALL related to each other from centuries of intermarriage and inbreeding with each other???

          • Anne Williams

            Hurrah for you YoKasta Martinez you do know your stuff.Prince Phillip was also of the House of Battenberg ,a title his ancestor was given as there was a problem there which was why that title was given. The Prince’s surname was Sonderberg Glucksberg and he is related to the Queen as Queen Victoria had so many children married to European Royals.As you know our present Royal family keep being denigrated for being ‘Germans’ and you may know why that is and why we had Hanoverian Kings?Also I expect that so many ethnic English folk who are so insulting are themselves GERMAN from Saxony and Angeln all in Germania or Deutschland!! The Greek Royal family were NOT GREEK at all as you will know also. I expect to have a lot of hat air blown in my direction soon!!

          • YoKasta Martinez

            Of course I do – the Hanoverian monarchs were the monarchs that were restored after Cromwell and the Roundheads were removed from power (unfortunately, those were the Puritans that basically fucked up America from the beginning during colonization.) The Stuart line was exiled previous to that. The House of Windsor was formerly called the House of Saxe-Coburg (isn’t that where Prince Albert came from when he married Queen Victoria?) until World War I, and got changed to prevent anyone thinking they had German sympathies (they also all stopped speaking German too.)

          • Anne Williams

            After King Chas. 1st was beheaded as you will know , his bro . King James followed but was found to be too Roman Catholic for most so was exiled to France after which his daughter Queen Anne and her hubby Wm. of Orange were invited to reign and the battle of the Boyne followed in Ireland.Hence the Orange day marches. By coincidence today we saw the TV program, “Who do you think you are” which I rarely miss. The subject was Sir Derek Jacobi the well known actor , who I thought looked of mixed heritage. .I was right as he was surprised to learn that his ancestors were not only French but Huguenots just like mine who were silk weavers who worked long hours in their tiny lofts in Spitalfields pictured. One of them/Armand le Bastide had fought in a Royal regt. in that battle , the other a De La pleigne was a wealthy lawyer who worked for the Sun King and kept his beliefs secret. For this he was bunged in jail and had his food put out just outside the bars , he could not reach .Dead animals were thrown into his cell to rot. Being rich he bribed his way out . Pics of the tortures of the Hugenots were shown a la ISIS. Hugenot babes thrown out of windows and the usual burnings at the stake! Nothing changes!! I note mine took the hint earlier, left Paris and sought refuge in London in 1682!!Their Huguenot chapels became synagogues when the Russians Jews fled the progroms . And this is obviously how Sir Dereks parents met in the East End. His Pa(Jacoby) of Jewish heritage married a Huguenot Protestant!!. Now Brick Lane,Bethnal Green ,where my silk weaver ancestor lived and worked is called Bangla Town after all the Bangladeshi migration.They have turned the synagogues into Mosques!!! Sir Derek himself has noted the mayhem that religions cause and remains neutral .. I don’t know what my 2 G Huguenot Grandma would think , as, altho brought up a Protestant , I feel the same but am an ardent environmentalist. What kind of life will my gt grandkids have if they remain in the UK??Might it be an even tinier island in a great ocean due to rising seas? With this in mind , I am a great admirer of our GREEN Prince Charles( whose Pa , Prince Phillip must have some input re: his env.beliefs ), whatever name he takes. For if we destroy our environment at the rate we are and a great calamity occurs, who will be left to reign or worship?Yes, Queen Victoria’s descendants were of the house of Saxe Coburg Gotha changed to Windsor . After the marriage of the Queen to Pr. Phillip , Lord Louis Mountbattten( changed from Battenburg for same reasons )campaigned to have the present Royals take that surname but was not successful! There is quite a bit of Danish blood in the present Royal family, the lovely Queen Alexandra was Danish and her sis Marie became the Tsarina which is why I think the tragic Tsar Nicholas looked quite a bit like our King George the 5th , his cousin.

          • Guest

            Paragraphs are your friends.

          • BW

            actually…..after Cromwell died, he was succeeded by his son, Richard, also known as Lord Protector as Oliver had been. That didn’t last long and Charles 1’s eldest son, Charles the 2nd was restored. He reigned from 1660-1685 and then his younger brother, James the II and VII became king, previously he was known as the Duke of York (for whom New York City was named). He was deposed in the Glorious Revolution of 1688 because he married a Catholic princess and had his son and heir baptized as a Catholic. His Elder daughter from his first marriage, Mary, and her husband, William the Prince of Orange, became co-monarchs as William and Mary. Mary predeceased William and he continued to reign until about 1702(?) he died without an heir and so his sister-in-law, Mary’s younger sister, and James II and VII’s younger daughter, Anne, became Queen. When she died in 1714 or 1715, without surviving issue, THEN and only then did the Hanoverians assume the throne. George I was the son of Sophia, Electress of Hanover. Sophia was a grandaugter of James I and VI who was the father of both Charles I and the grandfather of Charles II and James II and VII. Therefore Sophia was a first cousin to Charles and James, making George I a 2nd cousin to Anne. Not too distant a connection. Compare, for example how the Stuarts assumed the throne after Elizabeth I died childless. James was also a cousin.
            Did you get all that?

          • Suzan Smith

            Not So, as ex-King Constantine will attest

          • Ricky

            Philip had to completely renounce all his non-British titles before his marriage, so he was no longer a prince of any kind until the 1957 Letters Patent.

            He never swore allegiance to his wife until her Coronation in 1953; any oath before that would’ve been to his father-in-law, King George VI.

        • Ricky

          Catherine will always take the female form of William’s title, which is why she’s HRH the Duchess of Cambridge, Countess of Strathearn, Baroness Carrickfergus and Princess William now.

          The only way William would give her another title would be if he didn’t want her to be the Queen when he is King, and there’s practically no chance of that.

          In the extremely unlikely event of King William V having divorced Catherine, he could give her whatever title he liked through a Letters Patent.

          • Frank Graham

            Thank you, Ricky.

      • Ted

        I thought Catherine is entitled to the title Princess of Wales because it is the equivalent of what her husband’s title would be. Diana, Princess of Wales was not royal by birth, nor a princess in her own right (house she came from a noble household), yet she enjoyed the title Princess of Wales during and after her marriage. Catherine would be entitled to Princess of Wales by marriage, just as she is entitled to Duchess of Cambridge and eventually Duchess of Cornwall now.

        • Ricky

          Catherine will be the Princess of Wales if/when her husband becomes Prince of Wales, but until then she will remain Duchess of Cambridge.

          When Prince Charles becomes King, it is expected (but not automatic) that he will give William the title Prince of Wales. However, William and Catherine will automatically become the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall when Prince Charles accedes.

          Diana became Princess of Wales (and Duchess of Cornwall) when she married Prince Charles because he was already the Prince of Wales.

        • Haley

          Why are people saying that Catherine wouldn’t be given the title princess of Wales? Diana got it, Camillia decided to use something else or was advised to use something else because of the association with that title but that does not apply to Catherine.

    • Ted Thomas Martin

      I agree……Camilla should never be HM The Queen, that is wrong, just wrong.

    • Suzan Smith

      The Queen’s mother was Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her grandmother Her Majesty Queen Mary and her great-grandmother Her Majesty Queen Alexandra

    • bearzy123

      She will become Princess Consort…. as Phillip is Consort..’

  • Mark Arbeen

    So my question is about Catherine not becoming Princess Catherine. When HM Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother passed away, the Garter Principal King of Arms read a list of her titles and started with: “Princess Elizabeth, Queen Dowager and Queen Mother…” Now, we all know that prior to her marriage to The Duke of York (later King George VI), she was Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyons, youngest daughter of an Earl. Why was she called Princess, if she was never a princess in her own right? Does this change upon her accession as Queen Consort? If so, would not Catherine become, upon her accession as Queen Consort become a Princess of the United Kingdom in her own right? Would not the same hold true for Camilla? Please let us know.

    • Loraine Innes

      Wasn’t the Duke of York also Prince George? That would be why the Queen Mother was Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of York?

      • Mark Arbeen

        If that was the case, then Catherine would be Princess Catherine instead of HRH The Duchess of Cambridge. The Palace was very specific on that issue.

      • Ricky

        When the Queen Mother married her husband in 1923, he was Prince Albert, Duke of York. She was then known as HRH the Duchess of York. If he had died before he became King at the time of Edward VIII’s abdication in 1936, she would probably been given the title of HRH Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of York.

        The Duke of York’s younger brother was Prince George, Duke of Kent, who died in an airplane crash in the early 1940’s.

        • Royal Central

          When Prince George, Duke of Kent died, his wife continued to be known as HRH The Duchess of Kent until her son married in 1961. Conventionally, she would have become HRH The Dowager Duchess of Kent, though The Queen gave her permission to use the title Princess Marina – this is rare and the title was never officially granted. I don’t envisage any sort of situation arising with the present Duchess of Cambridge.

          • Julia Murray

            The Dowager Duchess of Kent was born a princess, though – Princess Marina of Greece. Although it was somewhat ubnconventional, the Queen didn’t actually make her a princess, she just allowed her to revert to a former title (which she had actually been entitled to use during her marriage as well, since a wife is allowed to retain her title if it is higher or equal to her husband’s).

      • Frank Graham

        The Duke of York’s name was Albert and he was known in the family as Bertie.

      • simhedges

        Good point. When she married him, she would have been Duchess of York, but if there had been no such title, she would have been referred to as “Princess Albert” (just as Princess Michael of Kent is Princess Michael and not Princess Marie Christine).

      • Anne Williams

        Not George , Lorraine Innes!, but Prince Albert, called ‘Bertie He was Duke of York and his wife Elizabeth nee Bowes Lyon was the Duchess. When he became King he took the name George and reigned as King George 6th.

      • He was a prince, yes, but he was Prince Albert.

    • Ricky

      Catherine is already a Princess of the United Kingdom. As a royal duchess, she already carries the rank of Princess, and this was entered on Prince George’s birth certificate has his mother’s occupation.

      If William should die now, she would probably be given the title HRH Princess Catherine of Cambridge.

      If William died after Prince Charles became King, and if he had not yet given William the title of Prince of Wales (which would be a very short window of time, I’m sure), she would be HRH Princess Catherine of Cornwall and Cambridge.

      If William died while he was Prince of Wales, she would almost be known as HRH Princess Catherine of Wales.

      However, if he dies while King, which is much more likely than the other situations I listed above, she would be HM Queen Catherine.

      Please correct me if I’m wrong.

      • Royal Central

        She’s a Princess by Marriage, in other words she is Princess William. This is why she was referred to as a Princess of Prince George’s birth certificate. If William died, she’d formally become HRH The Dowager Duchess of Cambridge.

        She would not become Princess Catherine of Cambridge/Wales/Cornwall because she’s not the daughter of the Duke of Cambridge/Prince of Wales/ Duke of Cornwall. Put simply; she’ll never be ‘Princess Catherine’.

        She will become Her Majesty The Queen (Queen Catherine) upon Prince William’s accession.

        • Ricky

          I suppose what confused me were the titles of the dowager royal duchesses of Gloucester (Alice) and Kent (Marina) after their husbands had died.

          Didn’t the Queen give them “courtesy titles” that included the word “princess” in their widowhood? Would Catherine not be given a similar title if William was to die now?

          I know these situations are very sad, and I don’t mean to dwell on them for that particular reason. I just find the issue of titles very interesting. And thank you for the feedback on the posts I made earlier.

          • Julia Murray

            Princess Alice was granted a courtesy title by the Queen after her husband’s death, but Princess Marina’s title is her own (as a princess of Greece).

          • Patrick

            Princess Marina was a princess by birth. Princess Alice was not, but Queen Elizabeth II granted her the style of princess due to her long years of service. I read somewhere that Princess Alice petitioned HM for the princess style, but I’m not sure.

          • Ricky

            When foreign-born royals marry into the Windsor dynasty, they can’t use their non-British titles anymore. Princess Marina was known as such after the death of the Duke of Kent in 1942, but it was a courtesy title and not officially bestowed on her by a letters patent. It was the same with Princess Alice, the (dowager) Duchess of Gloucester.

            Another example of this is when Prince Philip had to renounce his title of Prince of Greece and Denmark, and take the name Philip Mountbatten. Technically, he wasn’t a prince again until the Queen issued a letters patent in 1957 giving him the title of a Prince of the United Kingdom. From 1947-1957 his title was HRH Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

            I’m pretty certain about this, but I’d like Royal Central to comment so we can be sure.

          • Julia Murray

            I think Prince Philip had to renounce his Greek citizenship and title because he was a man, marrying the eventual sovereign, and could have no other allegiances before that one. Although he wasn’t in direct line of succession for the Greek throne, there could be no chances taken that the two crowns might be merged.
            I don’t believe they required foreign princesses to renounce their titles though, particularly prior to WWII, since that was (to put it bluntly) a good part of their worth as royal brides.

        • Eric Hufford

          As mother of the heir she is legally a princess in her own right, but HRH Princess X is reserved for Blood Royal, even Diana said that.

          • Royal Central

            Her title has nothing to do with her being the mother of an heir and she’s not a Princess in her own right. She is Princess William through marriage, but you’re right that the title of Princess [NAME] is reserved for those of the blood royal.

          • eric hufford

            No The Queen allowed the Royal Standard on her coffin and issues a press release at the Death of Diana stating she was a member of the royal family with all the rights and privileges of the mother of the king. She also received Civil List and apartment at Kensington Palace after the divorce. She was in legal theory a princess of the UK, using transference of logic the same for Kate. However not being Blood Royal she isn’t HRH Princess

          • Royal Central

            I’m not really sure what your point is? Diana was never a Princess in her own right either – when married, she was a Princess by marriage (Princess Charles) and after her divorce, under the 1996 letters patent she simply lost the style HRH, never a princess in her own right, and neither is the Duchess of Cambridge.

          • Ricky

            Royal Central;
            Did the Queen issue a press release saying that Diana was a member of the Royal Family at the time of her death? I wasn’t aware of any such announcement.

          • Royal Central

            As far as I’m aware there was no such announcement – her ceremonial funeral was accorded in respect of her popularity, she was divorced from Prince Charles at the time of her death so wasn’t a member of the family.

          • simhedges

            It’s very vague as to what a “member of the Royal Family” is. Is Zara Phllips (or whatever her surname is now) one? If so, what about her husband? Her children? If so, where is this laid down?

          • Amanda

            Diana was a Princess twice-over (during her marriage), since Charles was a Prince twice-over. He was born Royal – giving him the title of Prince… but he was also made Prince of Wales via an investiture. I believe these are two different ‘Prince/Princess’ titles. The Duchess of Cambridge is Prince William via her marriage to a blood Royal, but I believe she will still become Princess of Wales when William is invested as Prince of Wales in place of his father.

          • Royal Central

            Yep, I think that’s a fair summary ^

          • Amanda

            Thank you for the speedy response. This stuff can be so confusing. I really appreciate this website and all of the information I get from it. 🙂

          • Amanda

            Diana retaining the title of ‘Princess’ after her divorce from Charles was done as part of their divorce negotiations. She had HRH stripped, but retained Princess because Charles, Diana, and the Palace felt that as the mother of the future King, she deserved some distinction.

          • Amy

            As Diana, princess of Wales
            Not princess diana

        • DuchessLazy

          Assuming the marriage lasts.

  • Ricky

    Thank you for your offer to take questions, and I have one!

    You said that upon the Prince of Wales’ accession to the Throne, Prince Harry would become “HRH the Prince Henry/”Harry.”

    Isn’t he already HRH the Prince Henry? Or did you mean that the only change would be that he would lose his present designation “of Wales?”

    Please forgive a brash American if I have already answered my own question, but I (like many Americans) find the intricacies of all things Royal fascinating! Thanks in advance.

    • Royal Central

      Hello. He is HRH Prince Henry of Wales at the moment. The word ‘The’ in the name denotes a child of the Sovereign, so when Prince Charles accedes he’ll become HRH The Prince Henry and lose the ‘of Wales’ part.

      Hope this helps.

  • Ricky

    I have a question for Royal Central. Is there any truth to the stories that Prince Charles will use the regnal name “King George VII” to honour his grandfather? I know that George is one of Prince Charles’ other names, and that this would be possible. But it sounds like something a tabloid reporter would make up to sell newspapers, IMHO.

    Personally, I like the sound of King Charles III. There have already been two Georges and two Edwards in the last 100 years or so, and something different would be nice.

    • Julia Murray

      I’d say it’s kind of a toss-up which would be the better choice. Charles II was popular, but Charles I was deposed and executed. On the other hand, Georges 1-4 were disasters, but 5 and 6 were very admiarable monarchs.

      • Ricky

        Yes, they were! If I was to choose a favourite royal it would be King George VI. He was exactly what his country needed at the time, following the abdication of Edward VIII and during the war. Some historians call him “George the Good,” which describes him perfectly.

    • Chloe here is the article published jsut after Prince George’s birth becuase of such confusion with this.

      • Ricky

        Thanks for sharing the link, Chloe. I enjoyed reading the article, which I hope will end the speculation.

        However, if Prince Charles wanted to take a different regnal name based on one of his other names, I rather like the idea of a “King Arthur.”

        I’ve read that when Prince William was born, Charles and Diana couldn’t agree on what his first name would be; hence the long wait before it was announced. Supposedly, Charles wanted to give him the name “Prince Arthur,” but Diana wouldn’t go along with the idea. So they compromised on “William Arthur Philip Louis,” according to the article. So if Prince Charles had gotten his way, there might have been a King Arthur someday!

        • I’ve read that Charles chose William as a tribute to his second cousin (or first once removed?) Prince William of Gloucester, who had been killed in a plane crash in 1972.

          • Ricky

            It’s possible that Charles had that in mind, but I remember Diana telling a journalist that her son was named after William the Conqueror.

  • Ricky

    Another question for Royal Central. The article above mentions the issue of new stamps, coins, and banknotes at the time of an accession.

    There has been a change to a more modern image of the Queen on British coins, but the same portrait of the Queen on banknotes for the last 20+ years, and the same Machin portrait on stamps since the 1970’s. Why haven’t the stamps and banknotes been updated with a more contemporary image of the Queen?

    • Ricky

      Does anyone have any information about this? Thanks in advance.

    • Royal Central

      I think it’s simply a question of whether it’s needed. The overall look of banknotes and stamps has changed little since over the years and it’s not considered necessary really. I doubt The Queen’s image will be changed again now.

  • Zebulon

    In respect of flags would fly at half staff “likely across the world” – that’s a tenuous suggestion. In the U.S., on the death of George, Truman sent a telegram of condolence and the Senate ceremonially adjourned (a formality as it wasn’t meeting to begin with), but only U.S. flags at the U.S.’ Supreme Headquarters in Europe (in Paris), in the occupation zone of Berlin, at Gen. Van Fleet’s 8th Army Headquarters (in Seoul), and at the UN building in New York were lowered. Also, India declared 24 hours of mourning but did not lower their flags. Stalin ordered the lowering of Soviet flags in Berlin, but not in the USSR.

    We should expect a similar situation when ERII dies – there will be public displays of official grief and hysteria in states controlled by the ruling family, while others will observe the minimum customs expected on the death of any head of state, whether that of the UK or Bolivia.

    • Ricky

      I’m sure you’re correct about lowering of flags in the United Kingdom, but I wonder why you’re predicting hysteria?

      • Zebulon

        The past royal deaths, like the old king’s wife, have involved the requisite amount of people rending their hair and sobbing … I mean I know most people shrugged and said “oh, interesting” when the old lady kicked it, but at least the images Auntie Beeb shows are of the required public grief, a la North Korea.

  • Would the Prayer for the Royal Family at the end of Morning and Evening Prayer in the Prayer Book automatically be updated to “(Philip Duke of Edinburgh(?),) Queen Camilla, William Duke of Cornwall and Cambridge, the Duchess of Cornwall and Cambridge”, or would this require action?

  • scott smith

    Camilla will never be accepted as queen. On condition of charles being allowed to marry this woman it was stated she would not be queen. She would only be princess consort. Me personally charles should not get to be king as he married a divorcee. it should be given to prince william

  • Long live the queen.. Long may she reign.. She’s gonna be around for about 20 years, I think.

  • Alex Patnick

    I also believe that convention dictates that upon announcing the news the GM The Queen has died, and as Charles IMMEDIATELY becomes King, “The Queen is dead, long live the King”

  • Alejandra Suez

    why queen elizabeth does not abdicate

    • Ricky

      The Windsors see abdication as a shameful thing, and there is almost no chance of it happening again. If The Queen becomes incapacitated and is unable to perform her duties, Prince Charles could be named Regent, but she will never abdicate.

  • Isn’t Catherine already The Princess William?

    • Ricky

      One of her titles is Princess William, but only a child of the monarch is entitled to the word “the” in front of their name.

  • Charles Straub

    Prince William’s middle name is Arthur, is there any chance that when he becomes King, that he might use the name King Arthur?

    • Ricky

      He could use any of his names if he wanted to, and the same goes for Prince Charles, since Arthur is also one of his names. I like the idea of a King Arthur; it’s very romantic, but I doubt it will happen.

  • Michelle Lawless

    It’s kind of complicated, the logic, but as a descendant of Sophia of Hanover, Philip was actually technically a British Royal Highness from the moment of his birth.

    • Ricky

      That might have been possible, but I think that would’ve been nullified by King George V’s Letters Patent of 1917 that renounced all German titles and honours for British royals.

      But I admit that’s a very interesting point!

  • Frank Graham

    But not a British prince. He didn’t marry the present Queen as Prince Philip. He was Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten.

    • Ricky

      Lt. Mountbatten’s name changed the day before his wedding. He knelt before King George VI, who ennobled him with several titles and the style of Royal Highness.

      When he and Princess Elizabeth stood before the Archbishop of Canterbury, he was HRH Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

      I read that when the King made Philip a Garter Knight on the day before the wedding, he invested Princess Elizabeth into the order first so she’d have precedence over her new husband at the Garter ceremonies.

  • Frank Graham

    I have asked the following before but no-one has commented. Apparently when Andrew was born in 1960 (the first of the Queen’s children to be born after the coronation, a minor courtier pointed out that the child would be illegitimate unless the family name was changed to embody Philip’s, thus: Mountbatten-Windsor.
    Please, Royal Central, or Ricky – or anybody who knows!

  • Ricky


  • Ricky

    There are firm rules for the succession, and no one can be “named” King. Prince Charles will be the next monarch, and William’s time will come in due course; be patient!

    The Duchess of Cornwall has converted to the Church of England, so religion is not an issue. The Church of England was originally established so King Henry VIII could get a divorce; he stayed on the throne afterwards. Divorce won’t be an issue that could bar Camilla from becoming Queen.

  • john varin

    If Prince Charles dies before his Mother, forget William and Harry. The line of successions goes to his brother Andrew.

    • Ricky

      Not so, John. If Prince Charles predeceases The Queen, Prince William would take his father’s place in succession to the throne. Her Majesty would almost certainly create him Prince of Wales, but this is not automatic.

      Next in line after William would be Prince George, then Princess Charlotte, and then Prince Harry. After them comes Prince Andrew, Princess Beatrice, and Princess Eugenie.

  • Kenneth C Stalsworth

    I would imagine that life peers would invest in a coronet and robe if it meant having a front row seat at the coronation. I understand the costs are exorbitant, but considering the hot ticket the coronation will presumable be they might be willing to shell out the funds. I have heard that the robes can be hired, I would suppose the coronets would not be something available for hire, but I could be wrong. Thank you for your post, this is an interesting subject.

  • Melanie Piscia

    If Charles -> then the public choose to refer to Camilla as the “Queen” I personally would seriously doubt his (Charles) moral compass. Consort is far more then she deserves! Did the Queen make a statement that Prince Philip would not be referred
    to as a King?

  • Anne Williams

    The wife of our monarchs automatically becomes a Queen but not vice versa , unless the husband of the monarch is already a King. Its a long held tradition as far as I know . ‘Royal Central’ Editor . Why then did Elizabeth Woodville, the wife of Edward IV become Queen. She was not Royal??? Perhaps these ‘rules’ you mention came into use after his reign??

  • Cliff Taylor

    The prince of another in another country though

    • Anne Williams

      We have ALWAYS referred to the Duke of Edinburgh as a PRINCE and so do many we know..He must have had a sad and traumatic childhood, being sent into exile from Greece.He had no home and was sent from pillar to post amongst his rellies.His Mother , Princess Alice was a very beautiful lady indeed, guess that’s where he got is looks from.

  • Anne Williams

    Constitutional Monarchies as we have now , give us a sense of security because of their unchanging nature.We acn sometimes look back to our own family genealogy and trace it back to some monarch’s reign and learn much of life as it was then.. Whereas, so much in our lives have changed we know that one thing has NOT and has endured from generation.

  • Camilla would not remain Queen, as she would never have been the reigning Queen. William would succeed, and I’m not sure what Camilla would be then, as she wouldn’t be Queen Mother, not being William’s mother.

    • Ricky

      Camilla would continue to be who she already is; the Duchess of Cornwall.

      King William V could allow her to use a courtesy title like Princess Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall if he chose to.

      There is precedent for this, in the cases of Princesses Alice and Marina in their widowhood, whose husbands were royal dukes (Gloucester and Kent). Camilla is also the Duchess of Rothesay, so it’s a possibility.

      • Orchard 10

        If Camilla is already styled Queen Camilla. on the death of her husband the King, I think it is likely that she continue to be called Queen Camilla [rather than Dowager Queen],just as Queen Mary continued to use that style, after the death of both her husband and son.

        • Ricky

          Exactly. Queen Mary was entitled to be known as The Queen Mother, since she was the mother of two Kings. Although she was a Dowager Queen, she was always known as just Queen Mary.

          While King Charles III is on the throne Camilla’s title would be HM The Queen, and in her widowhood, she would be known as HM Queen Camilla.

        • Amy

          How if she is not the mother of Charles son?

          • Ricky

            That would have nothing to do with it.

            If Diana was still living after William was on the throne, her title would be “HM Queen Diana” or “HM the Queen Mother.”

            If Charles predeceased Camilla after becoming King, she would be known as “HM Queen Camilla.”

            She couldn’t be called “Queen Mother,” as Diana could have, for the reason you mentioned.

          • Amy

            Charles when he got married. Said she will be called by the public
            Princess consent instead.
            I know she will be by paper Queen camlila by paper.
            But what her title will be if Charles dies as King or before becoming king?
            As she not the mother of the heir.

          • Ricky

            No, Prince Charles never said that. The press office at Clarence House said “it was the understanding” that Camilla would be known as HRH the Princess Consort when Charles becomes King.

            This was mostly to quell some of the public’s hostility toward the couple at the time they married. Since then, polls have shown a steady increase in support for Camilla being Queen when the time comes.

            To answer your question, if Charles dies before becoming King, she would continue to be what she is now; HRH the Duchess of Cornwall.

            As I said earlier, she couldn’t be called the Queen Mother because she will never be the mother of a sovereign. As the King’s widow, she would be known as HM Queen Camilla.

          • Ricky

            That “princess consort” statement was made by someone in the press office at Clarence House, not by Prince Charles himself.

            The intention was to quell some of the public’s hostility to the marriage at the time. Since then, polls show a steady rise in the number of people who approve of Camilla being Queen when the time comes.

            Not being the mother of the heir only means that she couldn’t be called “Queen Mother.”

            But she can — and will — be Queen at the moment when Elizabeth II draws her last breath. King Charles III and Queen Camilla will then move into Buckingham Palace and in about a year they’ll be crowned in Westminster Abbey.

        • Ricky

          When the Prince of Wales becomes King Charles III, the Duchess of Cornwall will be known as “Her Majesty the Queen.”

          In her widowhood, she would be styled “Her Majesty Queen Camilla.” A small difference, but that’s what it would be.

  • I put this in the category of monarchy modernization. It would be perceived as a gesture of kindness if CIII restored the HRH to Diana AND created Catherine a Royal Princess of the United Kingdom in her own right. A mother of the future monarch should be a HRH. It removes Catherine from the category of royal womb. If QEII had done this, there would have been no acrimony from the people post mortem.

    • Ricky

      It is extremely unlikely that Prince Charles will issue a Letters Patent to restore his late wife’s style of HRH. It’s worth remembering that Diana voluntarily agreed to give it up during the divorce negotiations, then tried unsuccessfuly to get it back later on.

      There’s no precedent for a monarch doing this that I’m aware of. There is a possibility that Prince William may do this when he becomes King, since he did make such a promise his mother. But he was a child at the time, so who knows?

      As for creating the title “Royal Princess of the United Kingdom,” this rather bombastic title has never been bestowed upon anyone, ever.

  • William Kaisla

    As an American… I understand perfectly why Phillip was not titled King… but if William was to become the Prince of Wales… would Catherine not become HRH, Catherine, The Princess of Wales… is that not what Diana’s title was? She was never Officially Princess Diana… she just became known as that? Correct?

    • Ricky

      If Prince William is created Prince of Wales, as he surely will be when Prince Charles becomes King, his wife will become the Princess Of Wales.

      Diana became the Princess of Wales when she married Prince Charles, the present Prince of Wales. This is automatic, as it has been for all the other Princesses of Wales over the centuries.

      As for being a princess, she was Princess Charles and Princess of Wales upon her marriage, but she was never “Princess Diana.”

  • Patty

    The Queen’s father became King because his brother wanted to marry a divorcee and therefore could not reign as King. Charles divorced and married a divorcee so is the royals changing the rules so Charles can reign.

    • Ricky

      No. It was the prevailing attitude that saw divorce as shameful, and a social disgrace 80 years ago. Obviously, much has changed since 1936.

      There was no rule to prevent Edward VIII from marrying Wallis Simpson. He could’ve married her and remained King, but the entire cabinet had threatened to resign if he did. He had choices, and he chose to abdicate.

  • John Moskal

    It would seem but not necessarily the best option as time would tell that William should accede and Charles step aside because of acceptability and longevity. The King would become head of the Church of England as well. A point of contention that would resonate throughout the Anglican Church worldwide. Of course, that might mean that the Bishop of Canterbury would have to weigh in on the matter. People fail to recognize the relevance of the Church in international relations. Only time will tell of course but William would seem the better person to accede …

  • Friend in Wagga

    If Chales and Camilla did have a son in 1966 as recently published by New Idea Yahoo 7
    Dated March 21 :2016 Simon Dorante -Day claims he is the son of Them.

    • Ricky

      Don’t believe tabloid gossip. Prince Charles and Camilla didn’t meet until 1971, so it’s impossible for Mr. Dorante-Day to be their son.

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