The dogs get me up at oh-five-hundred hours every day. I let them out to do their business, then pad into the kitchen to prepare their breakfast. As I filled their bowls with kibble yesterday, I remembered the coronation and turned on the TV to watch. Good on you, Charles, king at last. And you too, Camilla.
But “Queen Camilla”? What happened to “Queen Consort Camilla”? Wasn’t that what everyone was saying she’d be just a few weeks ago? Did Charles put his foot down with the archbishop and insist she be queen, not a mere consort? A couple of hours later I posted my half-baked thought to Facebook: “Interesting how the title ‘queen consort,’ on everyones’ lips a few weeks ago, has vanished into the memory hole.”
Late in the afternoon I got a direct message from a friend, a man I once flew with overseas, whom I’ll call Mike. Mike had gone on to become an air attaché, and during his final tour of duty was posted to the American Embassy in Helsinki. I reconnected with him just before I retired from the Air Force at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, where he’d come with a visiting Finnish delegation, and we’ve stayed in touch since. So when Mike corrected my misunderstanding regarding Camilla’s title, I paid attention — he worked the diplomatic circuit in Europe, after all, and knows his stuff.
I’ll paraphrase his explanation: Camilla is in fact the queen consort. She’s also Queen Camilla. The female spouse of a reigning male monarch is always the queen consort, also correctly referred to as the queen. It’s different when the reigning monarch is a woman. In that case she’s also queen, but her male spouse is not a consort but a prince (as in Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth’s husband). So I’d been barking up a tree that wasn’t there. I was wrong. It’s Queen Camilla, queen consort to King Charles III.
I added an apology and clarification to my original Facebook comment, which in the meantime had unfortunately drawn a couple of mean comments about Charles and Camilla being sluts. I can think of hundreds of political and celebrity couples in America, and lots of everyday couples as well, who’ve played around, sometimes divorcing over it and sometimes not, whom we are not inclined to call sluts. But of course it’s different when it comes to Charles and Camilla, the difference being Diana, beloved by millions around the world. Well, we all loved Jackie too, but you hardly ever hear anyone calling JFK a slut. Anyway, on that subject, I think it’s best we all mind our own business.
Now you probably think I’m a royalist or something. I’m not. But I’m near to Charles in age, and can vaguely feel what he must have felt, having to wait an entire lifespan — the full three score and ten (and then some) — to assume an inheritance he’d been promised from birth, which is why I say good on you, Charles. But note the photo I chose to go with this post: King Charles III (with Queen Camilla at his side) wearing the “coronation gauntlet,” and if that isn’t the silliest fucking thing you’ve ever seen you must have taken the pledge. We Americans fought a revolution to free ourselves from all that nonsense (actually, I think we fought that revolution to protect the institution of slavery, the British being well on the road to abolition at the time, the thinking being that if they outlawed slavery at home they’d soon outlaw it here as well).
Here’s another half-baked thought on the matter: what if, some day, a man or woman in a same-sex marriage assumes the throne? Will the king have a prince, the queen a princess?