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Who is Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and why is her surname not Wales?

When a woman marries a member of the British royal family, she traditionally gets the female version of her husband’s title.

BRAEMAR, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 03: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall attend the Braemar Highland Gathering on September 03, 2022 in Braemar, Scotland. The Braemar Gathering is the most famous of the Highland Games and is known worldwide. Each year thousands of visitors descend on this small Scottish village on the first Saturday in September to watch one of the more colourful Scottish traditions. The Gathering has a long history and in its modern form it stretches back nearly 200 years  (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
Samir HusseinGetty

Born Camilla Rosemary Shand on 17 July 1947, in London, England, to Bruce and Rosalind Shand, her parents grew up on an estate in Plumpton, Sussex. Her father was Vice Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex and a successful wine merchant.

She married her first husband Andrew Parker-Bowles in 1973 and had two children, Tom and Laura. Camilla and her husband divorced in 1995 after 21 years of marriage. Her second marriage to Prince Charles in 2005 saw her name changed to the Duchess of Cornwall.

Traditionally, when a woman marries a member of the British royal family, she gets the female version of her husband’s title. Meghan Markle became the Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry was given the title of Duke of Sussex when they got married in 2018.

Why is Camilla’s surname not Wales?

Similarly, when Lady Diana Spencer married the former Prince of Wales, Prince Charles, she became the Princess of Wales. Now that Prince Charles is married to Camilla, it’s Camilla who should be referred to as HRH (Her Royal Highness) The Princess of Wales. But instead, she goes by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, the feminine version of one of Charles’s other titles. The title of Duke of Cornwall is traditionally held by the eldest son of the reigning British monarch.

What is Camilla’s name with Charles as King?

Even before Charles married Camilla in 2005, he was reported to regard her as Princess Consort, not Queen, when he ascended to the throne, even though she would legally be Queen consort. However, in 2018, Clarence House removed the statement about Camilla being styled as Princess consort. When asked by a member of Parliament, Constitutional Affairs Minister Christopher Leslie said that, “This is absolutely unequivocal that she automatically becomes queen when he becomes king.”


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