Get To Know More About The Current Six Queen Consorts of the European Royal Court

Six Queen consorts in European royal court

With the accession to the throne of King Charles III, Europe now has six Queen consorts and one Queen regnant (Margrethe II of Denmark). The continent has 10 reigning royal houses, seven kingdoms (Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Spain, Sweden, The Netherlands, and The United Kingdom), two principalities (Liechtenstein and Monaco), and one grand duchy (Luxembourg). 

These six current Queen consorts in Europe married into the reigning royal houses when the Succession rules were already relaxed, allowing royal princes to marry commoners. Back in the day, royalty married only within their circle. 

Thus, these six women are the newest breed of Queen consorts in Europe who did not descend from royal blood. Only Queen Mathilde of Belgium is a daughter of a titled aristocrat. Her maternal grandmother was also a princess.

Six Queen consorts in European royal court
The Queen Consorts arranged based on the year of their husband's reign

Let's get to know more about these six Queen consorts, and their personal background before marrying into the royalty. Number is arranged in chronological order based on the year they assumed the title. The correct style of a Queen consort is Her Majesty The Queen.

The three youngest Queen consorts in Europe today

1. Silvia, Queen consort since September 1973. She is the wife of King Carl XVI Gustaf - Silvia Renate Sommerlath was born on December 23, 1943, in Heidelberg, Germany to a German father and a Brazilian mother. When she was three years old, her family moved to Brazil where she spent much of her childhood, learning to speak fluent Portuguese (the national language of Brazil) and Spanish.

They moved back to Germany when she was 14. She studied at the Munich School of Interpreting majoring in Spanish in 1969. After graduation, she worked as an interpreter at the Argentine consulate in Munich and was chosen as one of the guides to promote the Bavarian culture during the 1972 Munich Olympics.

She met Crown Prince Carl Gustaf of Sweden at one of the parties she attended during the 1972 Summer Olympics. She was 28 and the Crown Prince was 26. They reportedly began seeing each other. 

However, they kept their romance a secret because the 1810 Swedish Succession Law prohibited members of the Swedish royal family from marrying commoners. Two uncles and several cousins of Crown Prince Carl Gustaf were already stripped of their royal titles for marrying commoners. 

wedding of King Carl XVI Gustaf and Silvia Sommerlath in 1976

On September 15, 1973, King Gustaf VI Adolf died and Carl Gustaf inherited the throne. The 1810 Swedish Succession Law was eventually repealed, paving the way for the newly-ascended king to marry his commoner girlfriend. 

They announced their official engagement less than three years later, in March 1976, and got married on June 19, 1976. They have three children together: Crown Princess Victoria, Prince Carl Philip, and Princess Madeleine.

2. Sonja, Queen consort since January 1991. She is the wife of King Harald V of Norway - Sonja Haraldsen was born on June 4, 1937, in Oslo Norway. Her father was a clothing merchant which afforded her a comfortable life. She was sent to a finishing school in Lausanne, Switzerland to study fashion design and accounting.

Sonja when she was still the Crown Princess

When she came back to Norway, she studied History at the University of Oslo and became acquainted with Crown Prince Harald who was also a student at the same university. 

They were formally introduced in 1959 and dated for nine years. They kept their romance a secret because Crown Prince Harald's father, King Olaf V, disapproved the romance. He wanted his son and heir to marry a royal. 

There were rumors emerged that Crown Prince Harald was supposed to marry Princess Irene of Greece and Denmark (younger sister of Queen Sofia of Spain), but he rejected the idea and insister to his father that he would only marry Sonja. 

King Olaf refused to give his permission but Crown Prince Harald made it clear that he would decline the throne if he would not secure a permission to marry Sonja. Faced with a dilemma of losing his heir apparent and provoked a succession crisis, King Olaf V was forced to give his approval to the marriage.

The King and Queen of Norway and their only son, Crown Prince Haakon, at the recent State Opening of Parliament

On August 29, 1968, Crown Prince Harald and Sonja Haraldsen got married at the Oslo Cathedral. They have two children together: Princess Martha Louise and Crown Prince Haakon. She became Queen consort in January 1991 when King Olaf V died. She is the first Queen consort of Norway since Queen Maud (born Princess Maud of Wales).

3. Maxima, Queen consort since April 2013. She is the wife of King Willem-Alexander of The Netherlands - Just like most women who were not born aristocrats, Maxima generated interest from the public and the public when her romance with the future Dutch king was revealed. 

Queen Maxima of The Netherlands

She was born Maxima Cerruti Zorregueita on May 17, 1971 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Her father served as an agriculture minister during the regime of Argentinian dictator, Gorge Videla. Maxima's father came from a rich and influential Argentinian family.

She obtained an Economics degree from the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina and went to the United States to obtain a master's degree in business. She then worked in various financial institutions in New York, and in 2000, she moved to Brussels, Belgium to work as an investment banker for Deutsche Bank.

In April 1999 she met the Prince of Orange at a festival in Seville, Spain. According to some accounts, Maxima did not know that the man was a prince. The Prince of Orange introduced himself only as "Alexander". Their relationship began in New York when the Prince of Orange followed her to the Big Apple.

When their romance became known in The Netherlands, it caused controversy after the press revealed her father was one of the cabinet ministers of an Argentinian dictator who committed various crimes against humanity.

Nonetheless, Queen Beatrix and the Counselors of State gave approval to the marriage, but Maxima's father chose not to attend the wedding to spare his daughter from further controversy. They got married in February 2002. The couple shared three daughters, Princess Catharina-Amalia, Princess Alexia, and Princess Arianne.

4. Mathilde, Queen consort since July 2013. She is the wife of King Philippe of Belgium - She was born Baroness Mathilde Marie Christine Ghislaine d'Udekem d'Acoz on January 20, 1973, in Uccle, Belgium. Her father is Count Patrick d'Udekem d'Acoz and her mother is Countess Anna Maria Komorowska, a member of the Polish aristocracy whose mother was a Lithuanian princess.

Mathilde studied Speech Therapy at the Institut Libre Marie Aps in Brussels and graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1994. She was a practicing speech therapist when she met Prince Philippe, the Duke of Brabant. They got married on December 4, 1999, and her father was elevated into a Belgian count from being a baron by King Albert II. 

Mathilde obtained a master's degree in Psychology in 2002. In July 2013, she became Queen consort when her father-in-law, Albert II, abdicated the throne in favor of her husband, Philippe. She is the youngest Queen consort in Europe.

She is the first Belgian-born woman to become Queen consort since the Belgian monarchy was founded in 1831. She shared four children with the king: Elisabeth, Gabriel, Emmanuel, and Eleonore.

5. Letizia, Queen consort since June 2014. She is the wife of King Felipe VI of Spain - Born Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano on September 15, 1972, she is a daughter of a journalist father and a registered nurse mother. Letizia completed a journalism degree from the University of Madrid. She has a master's degree in audiovisual journalism.

Queen Letizia of Spain fashion

She worked as a journalist and traveled to Mexico for a journalism stint. When she came back to Spain she worked in the economic channel of the Spanish version of Bloomberg, then moved to CNN Spain to become a news anchor. She later moved to another television network to anchor another news program. 

Queen Letizia of Spain fashion

Letizia dated Alonzo Guerrero Perez, a Spanish writer, and high school teacher, for 10 years, and they got married in 1998, in a civil ceremony, their marriage ended in divorce a year later, in 1999. 

She first met Prince Felipe, the Prince of Asturias, in 2002 while covering the Prestige tanker oil spill in Galicia, Spain. They soon began dating but details of their relationship were kept hidden from the public.

King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain

In 2003, their official engagement was announced by the Spanish royal court which surprised the public. There were public debates about her suitability to become the wife of the Prince of Asturias due to her past and being a non-aristocratic commoner. 

Nonetheless, their marriage pushed through on May 22, 2004. To date, Queen Letizia's wedding dress is the most expensive wedding dress worn by a royal bride. She bore two daughters, Leonor and Sofia. 

Letizia became Queen consort on June 19, 2014, when King Juan Carlos of Spain abdicated the throne. She is the first Spanish-born woman to become Spain's Queen consort.

6. Camilla, Queen consort since September 2022. She is the wife of King Charles III of the United Kingdom - She was born Camilla Rosemary Shand on July 17, 1947, in London. Her father was Major Bruce Shand, a British army officer, and her mother was The Honorable Rosalind Cubitt, daughter of the 3rd Baron Ashcombe.

Camilla the Queen Consort

She's a great-granddaughter of Alice Keppel, the well-known mistress of King Edward VII, and the great-grandfather of King Charles III. At 16, she was sent to a finishing school in Switzerland and moved to France to study French literature for six months. It was not known however if she ever obtained a college degree.

After France, she moved back to London to work as a receptionist at a decorating company in Mayfair, but did not have formal employment after she quit her job. Her father had a wine business and Camilla developed a passion for horse riding, and regularly attended equestrian events.

Camilla Parker Bowles and her first husband
wedding day of Andrew Parker-Bowles and Camilla Shand, July 1973

Her first recorded meeting with the Prince of Wales was in 1971 after they were introduced by common friends, but by then Camilla was in an off-and-on relationship with Andrew Parker-Bowles, an officer in the Blues and Royals regiment. Parker-Bowles descended from the British nobility. 

It was also reported that Andrew Parker-Bowles ended their relationship in 1970 because he wanted to date Princess Anne, the only daughter of the Queen. Prince Charles and Camilla had the same circle of friends and attended the same party. 

Camilla Parker Bowles and her first husband
Camilla and Andrew Parker-Bowles

They were reportedly in a romantic relationship in the late part of 1971 but abruptly ended the affair in 1972 when Prince Charles was sent overseas for a tour of duty with the Royal NavyRoyal biographers would claim years later that it was Lord Mountbatten, the maternal uncle of Prince Philip, who arranged Prince Charles' posting abroad because "senior members of the royal family" were not in favor of Camilla and that the Queen Mother did not want Charles to end up marrying an untitled commoner.

In 1973, Camilla and Andrew reconciled and got married in July that year. They later shared two children, Tom and Laura. Prince Charles stood as one of Tom's godfathers. Their relationship started to get sour when it was reported Camilla formed an illicit love affair with the Prince of Wales in 1986 (Prince Charles later confirmed in an interview that he and Camilla got back romantically together in 1986 when his marriage to Princess Diana was irretrievably broken). 

King Charles III and Queen Camilla
Civil wedding and service of blessings of Prince Charles and Camilla. In the photo with the couple: Prince Harry, Prince William, Prince Philip, and the Queen

Camilla ultimately became a hated woman in British society and royal fans around the world condemned her for causing Princess Diana's misery. Diana famously called her a "Rottweiler who sucked into our marriage and refused to go". Eventually, Camilla and Andrew Parker-Bowles had a trial separation in 1992, the same year that Charles and Diana announced their official separation.

Camilla and Andrew Parker-Bowles finalized their divorce in 1995. While the Prince and Princes of Wales finalized their divorce in August 1996. In 1997, Prince Charles reportedly planned to make his relationship with Camilla public but halted when Princess Diana died in a car accident in Paris.

King Charles III and Queen Camilla

In 2003, Camilla moved to Clarence House to live permanently with the Prince of Wales. They got married on April 9, 2005, in a civil ceremony. The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh did not attend the ceremony but were present at the service of blessings.

Prior to the civil wedding, it was announced that Camilla would only take the title of Princess Consort when Charles ascends the throne. To prevent attracting anger from the public, it was agreed that she would not take the title of Princess of Wales as this title was very much associated to Diana. Thus, Camilla became known as the Duchess of Cornwall.

King Charles III and Queen Camilla

But things changed. Including public perception. And the Queen's position. In February this year, the Queen publicly announced that she wanted Camilla to be known as Queen Consort when her son ascends the throne. Her intervention finally removed barriers to granting Camilla the title of Queen consort.

King Charles III and Queen Camilla

King Charles III is the first divorced British heir to ascend to the throne and the only divorced sovereign among the reigning Crown Heads in Europe. Queen Camilla is also the only Queen consort in Europe whose heir apparent of her husband is not her child.

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