Constitution means Camilla will automatically be queen

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Indy Politics

Camilla Parker Bowles will become Queen when Prince Charles is crowned King and will be entitled to be addressed as "Your Majesty", the Government disclosed.

Camilla Parker Bowles will become Queen when Prince Charles is crowned King and will be entitled to be addressed as "Your Majesty", the Government disclosed.

The announcement appeared to fly in the face of the original suggestion that Mrs Parker Bowles, who is to marry the Prince on 8 April, would be known as "HRH Princess Consort" after her husband accedes to the throne. Until then she will be known as the Duchess of Cornwall.

But the Department for Constitutional Affairs confirmed yesterday that the marriage would not be "morganatic", meaning she will automatically become Queen when her future husband succeeds his mother. The only way that could be overturned is through legislation passed in the national parliaments of the 17 countries where the Queen is head of state. Government sources made clear last night that such a move was highly unlikely.

Confirmation of her future title undermines efforts by Clarence House to win over the public, which is split over the merits of the marriage and hostile to Mrs Parker Bowles assuming the title of Queen.

Preparations for the wedding have been mired in controversy since the couple's engagement was announced last month. The Government and Clarence House have been forced to issue statements saying the civil ceremony would be legal and its venue was switched from Windsor Castle to the town's Guildhall. In addition, the Queen's decision not to attend the event was widely interpreted as a snub to her future daughter-in-law.

Details of Mrs Parker Bowles' official status were obtained by Andrew Mackinlay, the Labour MP for Thurrock, in a Commons written answer. He asked the Government whether "the proposed marriage of HRH the Prince of Wales to Camilla Parker Bowles is morganatic" (meaning she would keep her former status).

Christopher Leslie, the Minister for Constitutional Affairs, simply replied: "No."

Mr Mackinlay described the reply as a "bombshell". He said: "The royals knew she would become Queen, but they wanted people to think she wouldn't. Now the truth is out."

Tony Blair's official spokes- man said: "The position at the moment is limited to what the title would be on her marriage. In terms of any future events, let's wait until future events arise."

A spokesman for the Prince said: "The advice we have been given is that the wife of the King is known as Queen only by convention and not by legal statute. Therefore, it is possible for the Duchess of Cornwall to choose to be known as the Princess Consort rather than Queen. However, if the Government of the day felt that legislation were required to clarify the matter, then the renewal of the Civil List Act which is required at every accession would provide the opportunity to clarify the legal position."

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