Theoretical question about British monarchy

Say King Cecil is on the throne. He is married to Queen Cecilia and they have a son, Prince Adam. King Cecil dies. Prince Adam becomes King and Queen Cecilia becomes the dowager queen mother.

Now say a wealthy foreigner (il conte Eduardo Tozzi) marries Queen Cecilia. Does he get any automatic titles for being the Queen’s husband?


Parliament would probably grant a title to him, as a recognition and honour, but he would have no inherent right to a title simply by marrying the Queen Dowager.

In your example, of course, he is already a count (British: earl), so already has a title on his own.

This has actually happened on two occasions in the distant past that I know of. On both occasions, the husband was not granted a separate title.

The first was the marriage of Dowager Queen Katherine, widow of Henry V, and mother of Henry VI (Emma Thompson played her in the Branagh movie.) She married Edmund Tudor, the ancestor of Henry Tudor, who became Hnery VII. I don’t think Edmund was granted a new title as a result; not sure what title he held.

The second case was Dowager Queen Katherine Parr, the only one of Henry VIII’s six wives to survive him. She married the Earl of Seymour, and later died in childbirth. He was executed in the reign of Queen Mary I (Bloody Mary), under the usual suspicions of treachery and treason. Again, as far as I know, he wasn’t given a separate title.

There is also the issue of whether a man who marries a queen who reigns in her own right should be given only a courtesy title, or be called King (the crown matrimonial), with joint ruling powers. When Mary I married Philip of Spain, he argued for the Crown matrimonial. I don’t think he got the formal recognition, but he was proclaimed as King Philip of England, in the consort sense. This whole issue of the Crown matrimonial was one of the reasons Elizabeth I stayed single.

(She also had the bad example of her cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots, who married Lord Darnley and gave him the Crown matrimonial. He was a complete dolt, and the existewnce of two monarchs at the same time caused various crises in Scottish politics - until Lord Darnley was conveniently blown up at Kirk’o’Fields.)

William and Mary was not an example of the Crown matrimonial, as they both had a claim to the throne and were proclaimed as joint monarchs.

It’s early in the morning for me, and I may have got some of the details wrong - will poke about a bit.

jti writes:

Mmmm, a couple, I think.

Actually, I believe that Katherine married Owen Tudor, Edmund’s father (and Henry’s grandfather). Owen did not hold a peerage, and, SFAIK, was never granted one. Edmund was later made Earl of Richmond, and his younger brother, Jasper, Earl of Pembroke (after the accession of – or seizure of the crown by – his nephew, he was created duke). Their creations can probably be traced to the fact that they were half-brothers of Henry VI.

No, that was the Lord High Admiral Seymour (Thomas, I think his given name was), who again, I believe, never held a peerage, although his brother, Earl of Hertford and Duke of Somerset, did. FWIW, the Seymours wer brothers of Henry’s third wife, Jane Seymour.

Victoria, I believe, wanted Albert to have the title of “king consort”, but “prince” was as far as Parliament was willing to go. Elizabeth II, SFAIK, didn’t make an issue of it.
I don’t recall when George of Denmark (husband of Anne Stuart, later Queen Anne) died, but I think it was before Anne’s accession, so the question didn’t arise.

“Kings die, and leave their crowns to their sons. Shmuel HaKatan took all the treasures in the world, and went away.”

Why are you people digging up such old ancient history? It seems clear to me that if the husband of the actual current queen regnant has no special title (ie, Prince Philip) then certainly the husband of the ex- queen consort (as described in the OP) would not get any special title. Am I missing something?

Actually, Keeves, Phillip does have a special title: that of Duke of Edinburgh.

IIRC, this was conferred by George VI after Phillip married his daughter, Elizabeth, while she was a mere Princess Royal (which sounds like a cruise ship, doesn’t it?).

Phillip is also royal in his own right, being a sprig of Greek royalty.

Admittedly, you don’t hear him referred to as “Prince Consort”, or anything like that. I wonder if the Queen were to die in a terrible corgi accident, would we start to refer to Phillip as the “King Father” or “King Dad?”

I’m sure that even a commoner who married a monarch (or monarch-to-be) would get some kind of title. I’ve always liked “Lord of the Isles,” myself. Very Highland and mysterious.

Ok, for my next question. Suppose Sir Cecil defeats King Dan of Savagia and crowns himself King of Savagia. Can he do this if his (Cecil’s) father is still living, or does his father become King instead? If not, what is the father?

Hey, if Sir Cecil’s army is powerful enough to bump Dan off the throne of Savigia, he can do anything he wants. :slight_smile:
More seriously, it all depends on:
[list=a][li]Where Cecil’s the Elder’s domain is;[/li][li]What the laws of that domain and/or its suzerain(s) are;[/li][li]If Cecil the Elder is sovereign, or someone’s vassal or subject.[/list=a][/li]I can’t think of any exact precedent for the situation, largely because the sort of fortification that any rural baron was capable of throwing up in a matter of weeks was capable, in a pre-gunpowder age, of ressting a besieging army for months, years, or until every in the besieging army died of cholera. (After gunpowder came into use in Europe, fortresses got much more expensive, but so did siege trains. You had to be playing at least at the Hohenzollern/Savoyard level to afford a decent example of either). The best armies at pre-gunpowder siege, the Assyrians,and Romans, succeeded mostly by carrying out atrocities of such magnitude on resisters that people surrendered at the drop of a fasces.
The best analogy that I can think of off the top of my head would be the conquest of southern Italy and Sicily by the Hauteville brothers. Tancred de Hauteville was certainly alive when he sent out his youngest sons to earn their bread by the sword; I don’t know if he still was when Robert Guiscard made himself duke of Apulia.
Tancred did live and die a poor Norman knight.

“Kings die, and leave their crowns to their sons. Shmuel HaKatan took all the treasures in the world, and went away.”

These are very interesting questions. Being a fan of the Tudor era, I’ve always wondered about this. Elizabeth didn’t want anyone messing with her power, but wasn’t it entirely WITHIN her power to decide how much power her husband did or did not have?

And what the hell does “king CONSORT” really MEAN, anyway? And why do women who marry the king automatically become queens, but not the reverse?

By the way, I know that Elizabeth also didn’t want to play any favorites among countries, there being so much upheaval in the world and all, and marrying would have certainly required she do that. I’m just wondering about the whole consort/real king thing and who decides. Or at least, who decided back then.

I am #1. Everyone else is #2 or lower.

“Consort” refers to the spouse of an aristocrat. Cecil covered this somewhere, but I don’t feel like looking it up. Queen Elizabeth II is the Queen Regent, meaning she is queen by her own right. This is opposed to a Queen Consort, who is only a queen because she is the king’s wife. When Liz 2 dies, her son Charles will become king. If he remarries (let’s assume it’s Camilla Parker-Bowles (sp?)), then Queen Camilla would be a queen consort.

As to the husbands of Mary/Anne/Elizabeth/etc, the reason you don’t have a King Consort is because the Parliment didn’t want to have a king who was subordinate to the queen. (In other words, it was sexism. Not that I disagree with their decision ;)). Thus, you get Prince Consort, and QE2’s main man is Prince Phillip, instead of King Consort Phillip.

“I had a feeling that in Hell there would be mushrooms.” -The Secret of Monkey Island

Phillip is also royal in his own right, being a sprig of Greek royalty.

Not to be picky, but “Greek Royalty” is a myth: The Greek Royal Family is decended exclusively from a German royal house. When Germany unified circa 1871, it left a lot of royal families without kingdoms. Around this time, the Ottomans were driven back, and the resulting newly independant states (under the guise of the Metternichian Conservatism still prevalent at the time) were given Kings, usually German princes who would have been heirs to small German states that no longer existed. Greece was among these; so the Duke of Edinburgh is German Royalty by decent. (incedentally, there was a single country in the post-Ottoman balkans ruled by a native king: Albania and King Zog I. No one cared much about it, or him, and he is merely a footnote to history)

Jason R Remy

“What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate”
Warden in Cool Hand Luke

It would probably depend on how King Cecil made his claim to the Savagian crown. If he was simply conquering it by force of arms, then Cecil himself would be considered to have the authority; ie his victory on the battlefield would show that God favored him as king over Dan. But if Cecil were claiming that he had a hereditary right to the throne (saying, for example, that King Dan’s grandfather, King Ralph, was the illegitimate son of the royal gardener and therefore the kingship should have been passed down via Ralph’s younger brother Raoul, who was Cecil’s grandfather) then Cecil’s father (Raoul’s son) would have first claim before Cecil.

Ummm, Jason, this is, well, wrong.
The Greek monarchical line (and the current pretender, Constantine II (or XIII, depending on whether you buy the Megara Idea)) is of Danish descent, not German (in fact, George I of Greece was the brother of Alexandra, wife to Edward VII). You may be thinking of Otto of Bavaria, who was king of Greece for a couple of decades before George, and who was driven out by a coup.
Very few German monarchs (whatever their title) lost their thrones in the unification of Germany (the only one that I can think of off-hand was George V of Hanover (Victoria’s cousin), and that was some years before the formal declaration of the Empire). The German Empire was a federal monarchy (in theory, at least); the south Germans wouldn’t have adhered to it otherwise.
In 1917, when it looked like Germany might be winning WWI, mediatized German princes and scions of ruling houses were made kings of where-all and whichever by the Germans…and these kings, and all of the ruling houses of Germany, didabdicate after Germany finally lost the war. Some German princelings did end up ruling in the Balkans – and elsewhere (Leopold of Sigmarinen-Hohenzollern (only distantly related to the ruling house of Prussia) was elected king of Spain, although he disavowed the election).
Ahmed Zogu seized power after an election and declared himself Zog I in 1928; post-Ottoman, to be sure, but rather late in the day (Wilhelm of Wied had nominally been king in 1914 - 1918, but he was only in the country for a few months). The Karadjordjevichi (Petrovichi) and Obrenovichi, both native families, had taken turns ruling Serbia for more than a century before that (the feud between was quite decisively decided by the murder of King Alexander Obrenovich in 1903). The current Karadjordjevich pretender, Alexander Karadjordjevich II, is, IIRC, an insurance executive in Chicago.

“Kings die, and leave their crowns to their sons. Shmuel HaKatan took all the treasures in the world, and went away.”

Drat, I knew I shouldn’t try to post royal geneology so early in the morning!

Akatsukami is correct - it was Owen Tudor who married the Dowager Queen Katherine Valois, and the Seymour who married the Dowager Queen Katherine Parr was not an Earl.

With regard to why there is the fuss about “King Consorts”, I agree with Diceman - sexism is the root of it. At that time, the wife came under the legal control of the husband, so when a queen regnant married, there was always the concern that her husband would become the king regnant. Since royalty tended to marry other royalty or high members of the local nobility, this would cause a problem: either the country would come under the control of a foreign monarch (as was the concern about Philip of Spain), or under the control of a domestic noble, elevated above his peers (Lord Darnley’s elevation was a case in point). Either way, a recipe for trouble.

This morning, I’m a bit more wide awake, and I checked the point about George of Denmark that you raised, Akatusukami. He was still alive in 1702 when Anne became Queen; died in 1708. I’ve never seen him referred to as anything but “Prince George of Denmark.” I think he was made a Knight of the Garter, but I don’t know if he ever got any other titles.

With respect to Matt’s follow-up question, my understanding is that in the feudal period, a distinction was made between possessions that a noble inherited from Dad, and those he just went out and conquered. The inherited possessions went to his first-born son, while the conquered possesions went to his second-born son.

For example, William the Conqueror inherited the Duchy of Normandy from his father, and conquered England. When he died, his eldest son Robert of Curthose became Duke of Normandy, and his second son, William Rufus, became William II of England.

One other example, along the lines Mike mentions, was Bonnie Prince Charlie’s invasion of Scotland in 1745. Charlie’s father, the Old Pretender, was still alive. When Charlie unfurled the standard at Glenfinnan in August, 1745 (see my post in MPSIMS of August 18), he stated he was taking possesion as Regent for his father, whom he proclaimed as James VIII (III of England).

jti writes:

Thanx, jti. None of the sources readily available to me assign him any particular official title, either.

It would seem, in reply to the OP, that the queen dowager’s husband, if she re-marries, doesn’t get any kind of (automatic) title. Of English queens regnant, the roster is:
[ul][li]Mary I: her husband, (King) Philip of Spain, was also proclaimed King of England, but it was agreed that he should have no share in the government, and couldn’t succeed her.[/li][li]Elizabeth I: never married.[/li][li]Mary II: her husband, Prince William of Orange, was crowned joint monarch of England as William III – but he was in the queue for the succession, behind Mary, her sister Anne, and their issue (Mary had no children; Anne had 17 (!), but none survived her or had children of their own).[/li][li]Anne: her husband, George of Denmark, seems not to have gotten a title.[/li][li]Victoria: asked for the title “king consort” from Parliament for her husband Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, was refused, eventually gave him the title of “prince consort” by letters patent.[/li][li]Elizabeth II: I believe that Philip has been granted the style of “Prince of the United Kingdom”, but that the title of “prince consort” has not been granted to him.[/ul][/li]

“Kings die, and leave their crowns to their sons. Shmuel HaKatan took all the treasures in the world, and went away.”

One minor quibble: IIRC, Anne had 17 pregnancies, many of which ended in miscarriage.

Williamanmary the Orange, my favorite of all the kings of England.

Honi soit que mal y pense.

Fretful Porpentine quotes me as saying:

and replies:

My source on Queen Anne credits her with seventeen children: five live births, ten stillborn, and three unnamed but not explicitly called stillborn (a pair of stillborn twin boys is counted as one birth). Miscarriages are not explicitly mentioned, although I daresay that they could easily be hidden in the last two categories (the twins are the only ones stated to have appeared less than full term).

“Kings die, and leave their crowns to their sons. Shmuel HaKatan took all the treasures in the world, and went away.”

I have always heard that William III became King because Mary II, as a good Xtian wife, insisted on not being superior to her hubby.

I believe EIIR is “Queen Regnant”, not “Queen Regent”.

John W. Kennedy
“Compact is becoming contract; man only earns and pays.”
– Charles Williams

Isn’t that “Honi soit qui mal y pense?”