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Queen consort

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A queen consort is the wife of a reigning king, and usually shares her spouse's social rank and status. She holds the feminine equivalent of the king's monarchical titles and may be crowned and anointed, but historically she does not formally share the king's political and military powers, unless on occasion acting as regent.[1][2]

In contrast, a queen regnant is a female monarch who rules suo jure (Latin for, "in her own right") and usually becomes queen by inheriting the throne upon the death of the previous monarch.

A queen dowager is a widowed queen consort, and a queen mother is a queen dowager who is the mother of the current monarch.


When a title other than king is held by the sovereign, his wife can be referred to by the feminine equivalent, such as princess consort or empress consort.

In monarchies where polygamy has been practised in the past (such as Morocco and Thailand), or is practised today (such as the Zulu nation and the various Yoruba polities), the number of the king’s wives and their status varies. In Morocco, King Mohammed VI has broken with tradition and given his wife, Lalla Salma, the title of princess; prior to his reign, the Moroccan monarchy had no such title. In Thailand, the king and queen must both be of royal descent; his other consorts need not be royal before marriage to him but are accorded royal titles that confer status. A Zulu chieftain designates one of his wives as "Great Wife", an equivalent to queen consort.

The situation is more complex in Yorubaland. All of a chief's consorts are essentially of equal rank. Although one wife, usually the one married to the chief for the longest time, may be given a chieftaincy of her own to highlight her relatively higher status compared to the other wives, she does not share her husband's ritual power as a chieftain. When a woman is to be vested with an authority similar to that of the chief, she is usually a lady courtier in his service who, although not married to him, is expected to lead his female subjects on his behalf.

In the Ottoman Empire, haseki sultan (Ottoman Turkish: حاصكي سلطان; Ḫāṣekī Sulṭān; Turkish pronunciation: [haseˈci suɫˈtaːn]) was the title held by the lawful wife and imperial consort of the sultan.[3] The title was first used in the 16th century by Hurrem Sultan, wife of Suleiman the Magnificent, replacing the previous title of "Baş Kadın ("Head Lady").[3] The bearer of the title occupied the second most important position in the Ottoman Empire for a female after valide sultan (queen mother).

While the wife of a king is usually given the title of queen, there is much less consistency for the husband of a reigning queen. The title of king consort is rare. Examples are Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, in Scotland and Francis, Duke of Cádiz, in Spain. Antoine of Bourbon-Vendôme in Navarre and Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha in Portugal also gained the title. In Portugal, because of the practice of jure uxoris, both King Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburgo-Gotha and his predecessor, King Pedro of Portugal, were treated as ruling kings in protocol and were thus symbolically co-rulers with their wives, but both really had only the same power of a consort and the queen was the real ruler.

The title of prince consort for the husband of a reigning queen is more common. The monarchies that adopted this title did so because the title of king is usually historically higher than queen, so when the sovereign is female, her husband should never have a higher title than her. An example is Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. He married Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom; because she insisted that he be given a title identifying his status, he became Albert, Prince Consort.[4]


The traditional historiography on queenship has created an image of a queen who is a king's "helpmate"[5] and provider of heirs.[6][7][8] They had power within the royal household and partially within the court. Their duty was running the royal household smoothly, such as directing the children's education, supervising the staff, and managing the private royal treasury.[9] They unofficially acted as hostesses, ensuring the royal family was not involved in scandals and giving gifts to high-ranking officials in a society where this was important to maintain bonds. As a result, consorts were expected to act as wise, loyal, and chaste women.[10]

Some royal consorts of foreign origin have served as cultural transmitters. Due to their unique position of being reared in one culture and then, when very young, promised into marriage in another land with a different culture, they have served as a cultural bridge between nations. Based on their journals, diaries, and other autobiographical or historical accounts, some exchanged and introduced new forms of art, music, religion, and fashion.[11]

However, the consorts of monarchs have no official political power per se, even when their position is constitutionally or statutorily recognized. They often held an informal sort of power dependent on the opportunities afforded to them. Should a queen consort have had an amiable personality and high intelligence, produced a healthy heir, and gained the favor of the court, then chances were higher she would gain more power over time.[12] Many royal consorts have been shrewd or ambitious stateswomen and, usually (but not always) unofficially, among the monarch's most trusted advisors. In some cases, the royal consort has been the chief power behind her husband's throne, e.g., Maria Luisa of Parma, wife of Charles IV of Spain. At other times the consort of a deceased monarch (the dowager queen or queen mother) has served as regent if her child, the successor to the throne, was still a minor:

Similarly, in several cases in Siam (now Thailand) the queen consort was named regent during an extended absence of the king:

Examples of queens and empresses consort[edit]

Anne of Bohemia and Hungary, consort of Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor
Margaret I of Denmark (1353–1412), was first the consort of King Haakon of Norway and Sweden and later ruled Denmark, Norway and Sweden in her own right
Queen Sophia Magdalene wearing the crown of the Queen of Sweden.
Empress Nam Phương on her wedding day, 1934. Royal portrait by unknown Nguyen Dynasty photographer, taken as a wedding photo of Nam Phương and was widely used right after in French Indochina
Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun married his half-sister Ankhesenamun
Empress Carlota of Mexico as a regent was the first woman to rule in the Americas.[13]
Teresa Cristina, Empress consort of Brazil

Past queens consort:

Past empresses consort:

Current queens consort:

Current empress consort:

Current queens consort in federal monarchies

Because queens consort lack an ordinal with which to distinguish between them, many historical texts and encyclopedias refer to deceased consorts by their premarital (or maiden) name or title, not by their marital royal title (examples: Queen Mary, consort of George V, is usually called Mary of Teck, and Queen Maria José, consort of Umberto II of Italy, is usually called Marie José of Belgium).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "What is Queen Consort? What will be the role of Camilla?". The Economic Times. 9 September 2022. Retrieved 14 September 2022.
  2. ^ Hilton, Lisa (2009). Queens consort : the autobiography. London: Phoenix. ISBN 978-0-7538-2611-9. OCLC 359673870.
  3. ^ a b Davis, Fanny (1986). "The Valide". The Ottoman Lady: A Social History from 1718 to 1918. Bloomsbury Academic. ISBN 0-313-24811-7.
  4. ^ Chancellor, Frank B. (1931). Prince Consort. New York: The Dial Press. pp. 215–218.
  5. ^ Stafford, P (1983). Queens, Concubines and Dowagers: The King's Wife in the Early Middle Ages. London. p. 100.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  6. ^ Nelson, J (1986). Politics and Ritual in Early Medieval Europe. London. pp. 7. ISBN 9780907628590.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  7. ^ Mistry, Zubin (2019). "Ermentrude's consecration (866): queen-making rites and biblical templates for Carolingian fertility". Early Medieval Europe. 27 (4): 567–588. doi:10.1111/emed.12373. hdl:20.500.11820/141896e9-d116-4fc3-b50a-b9094ca0e8c0. ISSN 1468-0254. S2CID 213816257.
  8. ^ Stafford, P (1983). Queens, Concubines and Dowagers: The King's Wife in the Early Middle Ages. London. p. 86.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  9. ^ Stafford, P (1983). Queens, Concubines and Dowagers: The King's Wife in the Early Middle Ages. London. p. 112.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  10. ^ Stafford, P (1983). Queens, Concubines and Dowagers: The King's Wife in the Early Middle Ages. London. p. 99.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  11. ^ Watanabe-O'Kelly, Helen (2016). "Cultural Transfer and the Eighteenth-Century Queen Consort". German History. 34 (2): 279–292. doi:10.1093/gerhis/ghw002.
  12. ^ Orr, Clarissa Campbell (2004). Queenship in Europe 1660–1815: The Role of the Consort. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 1–9. ISBN 0521814227.
  13. ^ "Carlota, The Belgian Princess Who Went Mad When She Became A Mexican Empress". Cultura Colectiva. Retrieved 2 October 2022.
  14. ^ "Marie-Antoinette | Facts, Biography, & French Revolution". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 22 March 2020.
  15. ^ Phillips, Lawrence Barnett (1871). The Dictionary of Biographical Reference: Containing One Hundred Thousand Names, Together with a Classed Index of the Biographical Literature of Europe and America. S. Low, Son, & Marston. p. 900.