Friday, 4 August 2017

Queens and Prince Corsorts....

Prince Henrik of Denmark, husband of Queen Margrethe II, was in the news this week for saying he did not wish to be buried with his wife in Roskilde Cathedral, traditional burial place of the Danish royals.  He has, for some years, been unhappy at his role and title, even fleeing to southern France in 2002, protesting at being put behind his son, Crown Prince Frederik, in a ceremony.  Clearly, Prince Henrik is, perhaps, more sensitive than most about this issue, but it does highlight a curious anomaly.

When a male monarch, a king, has a wife, she is the queen, more specifically, a queen consort.  However, the husband of a queen in suo jure (in her own right) is not a king.  He is usually made a prince, and can be granted the title of Prince Consort, as Prince Albert had, and Prince Henrik himself enjoyed, resigning this position a couple of years ago.

Queen Mary II of England and Scotland did not want her husband to be a mere Prince, so made him joint monarch as William III - which, given their accession by revolution, and his close claim on the throne, worked well.  But Queen Anne's husband was just Prince George, and, in our own day, the Duke of Edinburgh is Prince Philip.

In the Iberian peninsula, male consorts are generally king consorts.  Isabella II of Spain married her cousin Francisco, and he was King Consort.  Similarly, Ferdinand, husband of Maria II of Portugal, was also King Consort (Isabella I and Maria I had both married men who were kings in their own right).  But this has never caught on elsewhere.

It seems to me that this inequality should be put right.  Furthermore, with more and more European nations adopting absolute primogeniture, where the oldest child, irrespective of sex, inherits, we will be having more queens than in previous history.  Indeed, the heirs to the thrones of Sweden, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Spain are all female.  Prince Henrik has spoken more boldly on this issue than many, but it seems clear that the rules, for once, favour women over men, when they are monarchical consorts.

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