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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.
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 wives of the king varies. In Morocco, King Mohammed VI has broken with tradition and given his wife, Lalla Salma, the title of princess. Prior to the reign of King Mohammed VI, the Moroccan monarchy had no such title. In Thailand, the king and queen must both be of royal descent. The king's other consorts are accorded royal titles that confer status. Other cultures maintain different traditions on queenly status. A Zulu chieftain designates one of his wives as "Great Wife", which would be the equivalent to queen consort.
Conversely, in Yorubaland, all of a chief's consorts are essentially of equal rank. Although one of their number, usually the one who has been married to the chief for the longest time, may be given a chieftaincy of her own to highlight her relatively higher status when 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 is not married to him, but who is expected to lead his female subjects on his behalf.
While the wife of a king is usually titled as the 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 gained the title king, not king consort, and were co-rulers with their reigning queen wives because of the practice of Jure uxoris.
The title of prince consort for the husband of a reigning queen is more common. An example is Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. He married Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland; because she insisted that he be given a title identifying his status, he became Albert, Prince Consort.
The traditional historiography on queenship has created an image of a queen who is a king's "helpmate" and provider of heirs. 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. 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.
Some royal consorts from foreign origins have served roles as transfers of culture. 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 accounts, some exchanged and introduced new forms of art, music, religion, and fashion.
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 that was dependent on what opportunities were afforded to her. Should she have an amiable personality and high intelligence, produce a healthy heir and gain the favor of the court (especially the monarch's), then chances were higher for her to gain it over time. There have been many cases of royal consorts being shrewd or ambitious stateswomen and, usually (but not always) unofficially, being 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. Often 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—for example:
- Queen Regent Anne of Kiev, wife of Philip I of France
- Queen Regent Munjeong, mother of King Myeongjong of Korea
- Grand Princess Regent Olga of Kiev, mother of Sviatoslav I of Kiev
- Grand Princess Regent Elena Glinskaya, mother of Ivan IV of Russia
- Queen Regent Mary of Guise, mother of Mary I of Scotland
- Queen Regent Catherine of Austria, grandmother of Sebastian I of Portugal
- Queen Regent Marie de Medici, mother of Louis XIII of France
- Valide Sultan Kösem Sultan, mother of Sultan Murad IV of the Ottoman Empire
- Queen Regent Luisa de Guzmán, mother of Afonso VI of Portugal
- Rani Lakshmi Bai, mother of Raja Damodar Rao of Jhansi
- Queen Regent Maria Christina of Austria, mother of Alfonso XIII of Spain
- Queen Regent Emma of Waldeck and Pyrmont, mother of Wilhelmina I of the Netherlands
- Queen Regent Anna Khanum, mother of Abbas II of Persia
- Queen Regent Helen of Greece, mother of King Michael I of Romania
- Queen Regent Saovabha Phongsri, mother of King Vajiravudh of Siam
Examples of queens and empresses consort
Past queens consort:
- Queen Jang, principal consort to Sukjong of Joseon. Demoted back in 1694 to the rank of hui-bin, Royal Noble Consort Joseon rank 1
- Queen Marie Antoinette, consort to Louis XVI of France
- Queen Charlotte was George III's consort for 57 years, 70 days, between 1761 and 1818, making her Britain's longest-tenured queen consort.
- Queen Alexandra, consort of Edward VII
- Queen Mary, consort of George V
- Queen Elizabeth, consort of George VI
- Queen Louise, consort of Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden
- Queen Ingrid, consort of Frederick IX of Denmark
- Queen Fabiola, consort of Baudouin I of the Belgians
- Queen Paola, consort of Albert II of Belgium
- Queen Anne Marie, consort of Constantine II of Greece
- Queen Geraldine, consort of Zog I of Albania
- Queen Marie José, consort of Umberto II of Italy
- Queen Kapiolani, consort of King Kalākaua of Hawaiʻi
- Queen Soraya Tarzi, principal consort of King Amanullah Khan of Afghanistan
- Tsaritsa Ioanna, consort of Tsar Boris III of Bulgaria
- Queen Catherine, first consort of Henry VIII of England. She was also regent in times of war.
- Queen Halaevalu Mata'aho, consort of Tāufa'āhau Tupou IV, Tu'i of Tonga.
- Queen Hortense, consort of Louis Bonaparte, King of Holland
- Queen Norodom Monineath, consort of King Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia
- Queen Wilhelmine, consort of William I of the Netherlands
- Queen Anna Pavlovna, consort of William II of the Netherlands
- Queen Sophie, first consort of William III of the Netherlands
- Queen Emma, second consort of William III of the Netherlands: When William died on 23 November 1890, Emma became regent (1890–1898) for her underaged daughter, Wilhelmina, the late king's only surviving child.
- Queen Ratna, second consort of Mahendra of Nepal
- Queen Sirikit, consort of King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand
- Queen Ruth, consort (or Mohumagadi) of Seretse Khama, King of the Bamangwato Tswanas of Botswana
- Queen Mantfombi, principal consort (or Inkosikazi Enkhulu) of Goodwill Zwelithini of Zululand, South Africa. She was also simultaneously a princess of Eswatini.
Past empresses consort:
- Empress Theodora, consort of Justinian I, East Roman Emperor
- Empress Aelia Sophia, consort of Justin II of the Byzantine Empire
- Empress Xiaocigao, principal consort of Hongwu Emperor from the Ming dynasty
- Empress Mariam-uz-Zamani, principal consort of Akbar the Great, the third Mughal Emperor
- Empress Taj Bibi Bilqis Makani, principal consort of Jahangir, the fourth Mughal Emperor
- Empress Nur Jahan, chief consort of Jahangir, the fourth Mughal Emperor
- Empress Mumtaz Mahal, principal consort of Shah Jahan, the fifth Mughal Emperor
- Empress Isabella of Portugal, consort of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. She was the regent of the Spanish Empire.
- Haseki Sultan Hürrem Sultan, principal consort of Suleiman the Magnificent, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire.
- Haseki Sultan Nurbanu Sultan, principal consort of Selim II, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire.
- Haseki Sultan Safiye Sultan, principal consort of Murad III, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire.
- Haseki Sultan Kösem Sultan, chief consort and legal wife of Ahmed I, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire.
- Haseki Sultan Turhan Hatice Sultan principal consort of Ibrahim I, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire.
- Haseki Sultan Emetullah Rabia Gülnuş Sultan, chief consort of Mehmed IV, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire.
- Haseki Sultan Perestu Kadın, principal consort of Abdulmejid I, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire.
- Kadınefendi Müşfika Kadın, principal consort of Abdul Hamid II, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire.
- Hanımefendi Saliha Naciye Hanım, principal consort of Abdul Hamid II, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire.
- Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, consort of Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor
- Empress Ana María Huarte, consort of Agustín I of Mexico, Emperor of Mexico.
- Titular Empress Carlota Joaquina of Spain, consort of John VI of Portugal, Titular Emperor of Brazil
- Empress Carlota of Mexico, consort of Maximilian I of Mexico, Emperor of Mexico.
- Empress Maria Leopoldina, consort of Pedro I, Emperor of Brazil
- Empress Myeongseong, first principal wife of Gojong, the first emperor of the Korean Empire
- Empress Eugénie, consort of Napoléon III, Emperor of the French
- Empress Augusta Victoria, consort of Wilhelm II
- Empress Xiao Zhen Xian, principal consort of Xianfeng, Qing Emperor
- Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, consort of Nicholas II, Emperor and Autocrat of All Russia
- Empress Durdhara, principal consort of Chandragupta Maurya, first Mauryan emperor
- Empress Shubhadrangi, principal consort of Bindusara, Mauryan emperor
- Empress Asandhimitra, principal consort (or Agramahishi) of Ashoka, third Mauryan emperor
- Empress Devi, first principal consort of Ashoka, third Mauryan emperor
- Empress Karuvaki, principal consort of Ashoka, third Mauryan emperor
- Empress Padmavati, principal consort of Ashoka, third Mauryan emperor
- Empress Tishyaraksha, principal consort of Ashoka, third Mauryan emperor
- Empress Michiko, consort of Emperor Akihito of Japan
Current queens consort:
- Queen Camilla, consort of Charles III of the United Kingdom
- Queen Azizah, consort of Abdullah of Malaysia
- Queen Nanasipauʻu Tukuʻaho, consort of Tupou VI of Tonga
- Queen 'Masenate, consort of Letsie III of Lesotho
- Queen Jetsun Pema, consort of Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck of Bhutan
- Queen Saleha, consort of Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei Darussalam
- Queen Máxima, consort of Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands
- Queen Mathilde, consort of Philippe of Belgium
- Queen Rania, consort of Abdullah II of Jordan
- Queen Silvia, consort of Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden
- Queen Suthida, consort of Vajiralongkorn of Thailand
- Queen Letizia, consort of Felipe VI of Spain
- Queen Sonja, consort of Harald V of Norway
Current empress consort:
Current queens consort in federal monarchies
- Queen Nur Zahirah, consort of Mizan Zainal Abidin of Terengganu
- Queen Fauziah, consort of Sirajuddin of Perlis
- Queen Norashikin, consort of Sharafuddin of Selangor
- Queen Aishah Rohani, consort of Muhriz of Negeri Sembilan
- Queen Zarith Sofiah, consort of Ibrahim Ismail of Johor
- Queen Nur Diana Petra, consort of Muhammad V of Kelantan
- Queen Zara Salim, consort of Nazrin Shah of Perak
- Queen Maliha, consort of Sallehuddin of Kedah
- Queen Azizah, consort of Abdullah of Pahang
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).
- First Lady
- Consort crown
- Prince consort
- Princess consort
- Haseki Sultan
- Royal Noble Consort (Korea)
- List of Bohemian consorts
- List of Burmese consorts
- List of British royal consorts
- List of Bulgarian consorts
- List of royal consorts of Canada
- List of Danish royal consorts
- List of Dutch royal consorts
- List of Queens and Empresses of France
- List of Georgian consorts
- List of Hawaiian royal consorts
- List of Hungarian consorts
- List of Japanese imperial consorts
- List of Norwegian royal consorts
- List of Persian consorts
- List of Pre-colonial Filipino Consorts
- List of Portuguese queens
- List of Spanish royal consorts
- List of Swedish royal consorts
- List of Thai royal consorts
- List of Tongan royal consorts
- "What is Queen Consort? What will be the role of Camilla?". The Economic Times. 9 September 2022. Retrieved 14 September 2022.
- Chancellor, Frank B. (1931). Prince Consort. New York: The Dial Press. pp. 215–218.
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- Nelson, J (1986). Politics and Ritual in Early Medieval Europe. London. pp. 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. ISSN 1468-0254.
- Stafford, P (1983). Queens, Concubines and Dowagers: The King's Wife in the Early Middle Ages. London. p. 86.
- Stafford, P (1983). Queens, Concubines and Dowagers: The King's Wife in the Early Middle Ages. London. p. 112.
- Stafford, P (1983). Queens, Concubines and Dowagers: The King's Wife in the Early Middle Ages. London. p. 99.
- Watanabe-O'Kelly, Helen (2016). "Cultural Transfer and the Eighteenth-Century Queen Consort". German History. 34 (2): 279–292. doi:10.1093/gerhis/ghw002.
- Orr, Clarissa Campbell (2004). Queenship in Europe 1660–1815: The Role of the Consort. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 1–9. ISBN 0521814227.
- "Carlota, The Belgian Princess Who Went Mad When She Became A Mexican Empress". Cultura Colectiva. Retrieved 2 October 2022.
- "Marie-Antoinette | Facts, Biography, & French Revolution". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 22 March 2020.
- 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.