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The Duchess of Cornwall is the title held by the wife of the Duke of Cornwall. Duke of Cornwall is a non-hereditary peerage held by the British Sovereign's eldest son and heir.

The current Duchess of Cornwall is Camilla Parker Bowles, since her 9 April 2005 marriage to Charles, Prince of Wales.

Until then, the title was not often used outside Cornwallmarker as the Sovereign's eldest son and heir is usually created Prince of Wales, and usually his wife is styled the Princess of Wales. In Scotland the couple use the title Duke and Duchess of Rothesay. Since under current succession law the title of Duke of Cornwall can only be held by the eldest son of a monarch who is also heir-apparent, no woman can ever be Duchess of Cornwall in her own right.


The first Duchess of Cornwall was Joan "The Fair Maid of Kent", who, in October 1361, married Edward, the Black Prince.

Before the present Duchess, the most recent Duchess of Cornwall had been Diana, Princess of Wales, from her marriage in 1981 to Charles, Prince of Wales until their divorce in 1996. During this period, she was more usually styled The Princess of Wales, as have been most Duchesses of Cornwall.

Before Camilla the only Duchesses of Cornwall actually to be styled as such were Caroline, wife of the future King George II, who was styled “Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall and Cambridge” from 1 August to 27 September 1714; and Mary, wife of the future King George V, who was styled “Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall and York” from 22 January to 9 November 1901. In both cases they were known by the title for only a few months between their respective father-in-law's accession to the throne and their husband's creation as Prince of Wales.

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall

Prior to the marriage of the Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker Bowles, it was stated that she would be styled Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall. She does not currently use the title Princess of Wales even though she holds this title, because it has been popularly associated with the former wife of the Prince of Wales, Diana, Princess of Wales. At present, it is speculated that upon Charles' accession to the throne (if he survives the present sovereign and is then still married to the Duchess of Cornwall), that she will be styled HRH The Princess Consort, rather than the more usual HM The Queen. Alternatively, she may become Queen Consort if and when Prince Charles becomes King, but it is unknown what will transpire in the future, and whether she will openly take up the Queen Consort title in any realm.

Literary references

  • Shakespeare's King Lear includes the character "Regan, Duchess of Cornwall", Lear's second daughter.

See also

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