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The British system is familiar to most people and in that system there is a clear demarcation between royalty and the nobility. The person in whom sovereignty is vested is a King if a male and a Queen if a female. Although a queen invested in sovereignty is a Queen Regnant and a queen that is the wife of a King is a Queen Consort but both are generally just called the Queen. The husband of a Queen Regnant does not generally adopt the title King Consort.

There are a couple of exceptions though. Felipe II of Spain (Philip) was King of England as the wife of Queen Mary I, England’s first Queen Regnant. The Act of legislation passed by Parliament for the marriage of Queen Mary to Philip of Spain, stated that Philip was to enjoy Mary I’s titles for as long as their marriage should last. All official documents, including Acts of Parliament, were dated with both their names and Parliament was to be called under the joint authority of the couple. However, Philip is not generally listed among the Kings and Queens of England and is treated more as a consort than a sovereign. As I said in another blog post it will be interesting to see if another King Philip of the United Kingdom were to reign in England would he be called Philip II? Queen Elizabeth I never married so this issue did not arise.

The next Queen Regnant, Marry II, is a different situation. She was married to her cousin, Prince Willem III of Orange, Stadholder of the Netherlands. He held a claim to the throne but only after his wife, her sister, Anne, and their brother Prince James, The Prince of Wales, son of the deposed King James II – VII of England and Scotland, whom -Willem helped depose. With King James II-VII having fled the country in the Glorious Revolution of 1688, Parliament declared the throne vacant. The infant Prince of Wales was not acceptable due to his Catholicism so his eldest Protestant daughter, Mary, was the legal heir. Mary refused to rule without her husband therefore Parliament offered the throne and sovereignty to both Willem and Mary who became William III- II and Mary II of England and Scotland. Unlike the situation with Mary I and Felipe II of Spain, William held sovereignty even after Mary’s death in 1694and therefore was king in his own right. Anne, the next in line, relinquished her place in the succession in favor of her brother-in-law. William III died in 1702 and Anne became the next Queen Regnant.

Anne was married to Prince George of Denmark & Norway and was made a Peer of the Realm with the title Duke of Cumberland. Queen Anne died in 1714 and the crown passed to the German House of Hanover. The issue of the title of the husband of a Queen Regnant would not arise until 1840 when Queen Victoria married.

Queen Victoria’s desperately wanted her husband, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, the title of King Consort but Parliament would not have it. Prince Albert refused a peerage title but was granted the title Prince Consort in 1857. By granting the title Prince Consort his status did not really change so I have always questioned the significance of this title.

Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark was made a peer the day before his marriage to Princess Elizabeth by his soon to be father-in-law, George VI, who created him HRH the Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich. He had been born a Prince of Greece and Denmark and although he renounced his Greek and Danish titles and became Lt. Philip Mountbatten, the press still incorrectly referred to him as Prince Philip. He did not officially become a Prince again until 1957 when Her Majesty created her husband Prince of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.