Will Kate Middleton Become Queen: Why Prince Phillip Isn't King

by AlexandriaIngham

The titles in the monarchy can be so confusing. Why is Prince Phillip not king when Mary I's husband of the same name was? Here's a brief look into the convention of titles.

There is much confusion over royalty titles for the monarch’s spouse. This is understanding, considering consorts of the kings have always been known as Queen Consorts, yet consorts of queens aren’t necessarily given the title king. This depends on a number of factors and the title that the consort may have from another country.

In short, a Queen of Great Britain in her own right will never have a King Consort. King is automatically a higher “rank” and so will be more powerful than the Queen. Considering she is queen in her own right, she has to have the most power. Prince Phillip can never be King Phillip because Queen Elizabeth II is the rightful Head of State.

Women Take the Title of Their Husbands

When you actually look at all the titles in Great Britain, you'll find that there is a convention that stretches to the monarchy.

Men don't automatically take their wives' titlesWomen automatically take the title of their husbands. This has been seen throughout history and is not just connected to the royal family. For example, women who married the King of England through history, automatically became Queen of England. The wives of Dukes, Earls and Lords would automatically become Duchesses, Countesses and Ladies.


The same does not apply to men. They do not automatically gain the title of their wives. This has also been seen throughout history, although in most cases the men have been granted the title. For the reasons already stated, this cannot happen when it comes to those who marry a queen in her own right.

Kings and Queens in History

When consorts of queen regents have become king consort, making it very confusing for present day titles.

Mary I allowed her husband to become King of EnglandIt is understanding why this is such a confusing subject. In history, there have been kings rule with their wives, despite the queen being queen in her own right. There are two most notable queen who had kings: Queen Mary I and Queen Mary II, who ruled with King Philip II of Spain and King William III of England respectively.

There are reasons for their title “king”. The first is that they were already kings in their own country. Philip was the King of Spain and other countries after the death of Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor. William was already King of Orange. They had to be known as King of England and Ireland (and Scotland in William’s case, where he was William II).

The monarchs ruled together over England, Ireland and Scotland (in William and Mary II’s case). Queen Mary I had her parliament draw up an Act, which stated that Philip would be styled the King of England and official documents would need to include both names. However, she also imposed strict conditions. England would not need to offer support to Philip’s military operations and Mary had to approve any foreign appointments into the English office.

The conditions were not the case when it came to William and Mary. Despite Mary being queen in her own right because she was the elder daughter of James II of England (James VII of Scotland), the English people wanted William to become king. In fact, William came to England to depose James II because he was an unfavourable monarch due to his catholic views.

Lady Jane Grey Refused to Make Her Husband King

Lady Jane Grey wouldn't sign the letters patent to make her husband King Consort of England. She wanted her parliament to decide that factor.

Guildford Dudley had no opportunity to become King of EnglandDespite being Queen of England for just 13 days, Lady Jane Grey did make it clear that a consort of a queen in her own right did not automatically gain the title king consort. After her coronation, Jane refused to allow her husband, Guildford Dudley, be styled as King Guildford. This was something that she would need her parliament to allow, presumably knowing that they would not allow it.

As consolation, she did offer to make him the Duke of Clarence. This was a title originally created for Lionel of Antwerp and was then passed to the second son of Henry IV, Thomas of Lancaster, who died young. The last time the title has ever used was during Edward IV’s reign when it was given to George Plantagenet. It became extinct after George’s execution. It has been used as a mixture of titles since then (Duke of Clarence and St. Andrews and the Duke of Clarence and Avondale). However, Jane was deposed before she could style her husband Duke of Clarence.

Similarly, George VI of Great Britain, father of Elizabeth II, made it clear that Prince Phillip could not become king with his daughter. After their marriage, Phillip was given the title Prince and Duke of Edinburgh.

Prince Phillip Gave Up His Own Titles

Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh, could have become king in his own right but he gave up those rights for the love of Elizabeth Windsor.

Prince Phillip was an heir to European thrones—of Greece and Denmark. However, so that he could marry Elizabeth, he agreed to give up his own rights. Personally, I love that he did this since it is clear that he loved Elizabeth and didn’t care that much about the title of king. His new father-in-law created new titles for Phillip so he didn’t miss out on too much.

Rumours have it that Prince Phillip doesn’t want his daughter-in-law to become queen consort. Instead, he wants the crown to skip over Charles and Camilla and go to William and Kate (Catherine as she is more likely to be styled after William’s coronation). That is something for a different piece though!

Kate Middleton will become Queen Catherine
Kate Middleton will become Queen Cath...

Will Kate Middleton Become Queen of England?

When William becomes king, Kate will likely become Queen Catherine. Let's hope she doesn't follow the fate of the Catherines before her.

When William becomes King William V of Great Britain (presuming he keeps the name William and doesn’t use one of his middle names), Kate will become Queen Catherine. However, she will be Queen Consort of Great Britain, just like those before her—Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (wife of George VI) and Mary of Teck (wife of George V) as examples.


She is technically Princess Catherine now since she takes the title of her husband, however she is known as Duchess of Cambridge, taking William’s title created after his marriage to Kate.

When she does become Queen Consort of Great Britain, she will have no powers that her mother-in-law has. Those powers will be William’s and William’s alone. This is the case with all queen consorts throughout history. The only time she may be given the powers of the regent is if she is acting regent. These powers were given to Catherine of Aragon and Katherine Parr during Henry VIII’s reign when he was at war in France.

That’s a very brief reasoning why Prince Phillip is not King of Great Britain but why Kate Middleton will become queen. I hope it helps to understand the way the monarchy and titles work.

Updated: 10/23/2013, AlexandriaIngham
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AlexandriaIngham on 10/23/2013

You're welcome. I recently saw someone say that Kate Middleton would never automatically become Queen since Prince Philip wasn't King. I knew it wasn't right but I wanted to explain why in detail.

JoHarrington on 10/23/2013

That's a really good run through of the titles. Thanks!

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