As we count down the final days until The Coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla, we shift the emphasis for a moment from the Monarch to the Consort!
Since the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the untimely death of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997, much has been made of what role Camilla might play in Charles’ life. Their subsequent marriage on 8 April 2005 concreted Camilla’s position in an official capacity. Nevertheless, speculation remained rife as to whether she would ever become Queen. The idea of the title of Princess Consort was toyed with for years, until Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II announced on 6th February 2022 – 70 years to the day since her own accession to the throne – her wish that Camilla should be known as Queen Consort. And so it has been the case, at least until The Coronation this coming Saturday (6th May 2023). From then onwards, she will simply be known as Queen Camilla.
So with the subject of Royal Consorts forward in our minds, we have compiled a list of 8 of the most attractive and photogenic protagonists who have performed the function. Some are still with us, while others sadly, have passed their royal responsibilities onto the next generation.
Countdown of 8 Royal Consorts, Past and Present
1. Princess Grace of Monaco
It would be difficult to contest that Grace Kelly were anything but the most beautiful royal consort the world has ever known. Elegance personified, the American Hollywood actress met Prince Rainier III of Monaco while attending the Cannes Film Festival in April 1955, the same year as she won the Oscar for Best Actress for her role in The Country Girl. After a year-long engagement, they married in April 1956. Tragically, Princess Grace died in 1982 at the age of just 54 from injuries sustained in a car accident.
2. Queen Rania of Jordan
Just like Princess Grace of Monaco, Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan, underwent a huge career-change when she married the then Prince Abdullah bin Al Hussein in 1993. Having graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the American University of Cairo, she had embarked on a successful business career in both the banking and IT sector. Since going on to become Queen Consort 6 years after her marriage, Rania has been committed to enhancing the quality and accessibility of state education in Jordan, as well as working hard to improve child and family protection services within the country.
3. Queen Suthida of Thailand
The story of beautiful Queen Suthida of Thailand is like a fairytale come true, albeit for her varied career before becoming the 4th Queen Consort to King Vajiralongkorn in 2019! After graduating, Suthida worked as a flight attendant for a number of years with Thai Airways, before joining the Royal Thai Army, where she rose to the rank of General. Also serving as part of the Royal Security Command, Suthida soon became romantically linked to the future King. They were married on 1 May 2019 and her Coronation as Queen Consort took place 3 days later.
4. Queen Jetsun Pema of Bhutan
The natural beauty and charm of world’s youngest Queen Consort made made huge impression when she and her husband King Jigme Khesar attended the funeral of HM Queen Elizabeth II in London on 19th September 2022. The couple were married in October 2011 at a traditional Buddhist ceremony that combined both Coronation and wedding nuptials. They had both studied in the UK and share a passion for art and all things creative.
5. Queen Máxima of The Netherlands
Argentinian-born Queen Máxima of The Netherlands grew up in Buenos Aires. She graduated and worked in the USA for a few years in the 1990s. Then Máxima met Dutch Crown Prince Willem-Alexander at a party in Seville, Spain. A year leter, she moved to Brussels and their marriage took place on 2 February 2002. Máxima became Queen Consort on 30 April 2013, when her husband succeeded, Queen Beatrix, who had abdicated in his favour.
6. Queen Letizia of Spain
Queen Letizia of Spain came into the spotlight at the funeral of HM Queen Elizabeth II. There, her presence very much ignited public interest in the Spanish Royal Family. Letizia background is very much a middle-class one, as she has no aristocratic blood to speak of. Before marring King Felipe VI in May 2004, her career had been solidly based in journalism. She had worked for several news and media outlets, including both Bloomberg and CNN+. Since becoming Queen Consort after the abdication of King Juan Carlos I in 2014, Queen Letizia’s work has been primarily around social issues such as children’s rights, culture, and education.
7. Prince Philip of The United Kingdom
Nobody said this had to be an all-female list. All reigning monarchs have a Royal Consort, be they male or female! Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark became HRH The Duke on Edinburgh on his marriage to the late Queen Elizabeth II in 1947. He remained loyally by her side for the next 75 years, until his death in 2022 at the age of 99.
8. Queen Alexandra of The United Kingdom
To end on an historical note, we’ve included the beautifully elegant Queen Alexandra who had the reputation of being kind and generous to a fault. This Danish Queen Consort to King Edward VII of The United Kingdom had a charming habit. She would gift priceless items from the royal palaces which didn’t actually belong to her. Royal courtiers then had to discreetly and diplomatically try and retrieve them from the not-so-grateful recipients!
(featured photo: Getty Images)