What Will Camilla's Role in the Royal Family Be if King Charles Dies?

Jennifer Tisdale - Author

Feb. 5 2024, Updated 2:18 p.m. ET

King Charles III and Queen Consort Camilla Parker Bowles
Source: Getty Images

King Charles III and Queen Consort Camilla Parker Bowles have been in each other's lives for decades. There are conflicting stories regarding how they met, with one claiming it was in 1970 at a polo match, and another citing an introduction in 1971 via a mutual friend. Regardless of their origin story, their love affair has been documented in the media, via books, and even in the Netflix drama series The Crown.

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There is certainly a sympathetic bend to a story about two people kept apart by circumstances beyond their control, but it was absolutely marred by Charles's treatment of Princess Diana during their marriage. Like all things in life, it's difficult and nuanced. However, Charles and Camilla are now married and by all accounts are very happy. She is currently the queen consort, but would she be queen if King Charles died? Here's what we know.

Camilla, Queen Consort of the United Kingdom arrives for the Horse Guards Parade during for the welcome ceremony of the President of the Republic of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa.
Source: Getty Images
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If King Charles III dies, will Camilla be queen?

According to USA Today, while Camilla would be queen, she would never be the "reigning queen," if King Charles dies. "Only members of the royal family who are born in the direct line of succession can become the monarch," per the outlet. So if King Charles dies, Prince William would become king and, like Camilla, Kate Middleton would then be known as queen consort.

Next in line after William is his son Prince George, followed by Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis. Believe it or not, Harry is still in the mix as fifth in the line of succession. If you're wondering if Harry and Meghan attended the May 6, 2023 coronation of King Charles, the answer is yes and no. Harry attended sans Meghan. Meghan stayed home in California with their two children, probably having a much better time.

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King Charles was diagnosed with cancer in February 2024, thus pushing the line of succession question forward.

The line of succession is a topic of whispered discussion after King Charles was diagnosed with cancer in February 2024. An emailed statement from Buckingham Palace sent to NBC News said, "During The King’s recent hospital procedure for benign prostate enlargement, a separate issue of concern was noted." It went on to say that "subsequent diagnostic tests have identified a form of cancer."

King Charles III
Source: Getty Images

King Charles III leaves The London Clinic on Jan. 29, 2024 in London.

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Details regarding the exact nature of the cancer diagnosis are being kept under wraps at this time. In light of this diagnosis, King Charles has postponed all public-facing duties while undergoing a "schedule of regular treatments." The statement also touched on King Charles's decision to go public with his cancer diagnosis. It is his hope that doing so "may assist public understanding for all those around the world who are affected by cancer."

Historically, King Charles has not suffered from any serious health issues. He once broke his right arm in two places during a polo match in 1990, per TODAY. Eight years later the then Prince of Wales cracked a rib after falling off his horse while hunting. Eventually he gave up polo in 2005, four years after he was knocked unconscious during a match. King Charles has also had hernia surgery as well as surgery on his right knee in order to repair the cartilage.

A November 2019 trip to New Delhi resulted in several photos of the Prince's swollen hands and feet, which raised concerns about his health, per Metro UK. "Experts say it can be caused by anything from water retention to poor circulation or even arthritis," said the outlet. This has been an ongoing issue that King Charles has never officially addressed.

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