A Queen Consort is simply a woman who is a queen by virtue of her marriage to whomsoever happens to be king at the time, and to be distinguished from a Queen proper or Queen Regnant, who rules in her own name. By contrast the husband of a Queen Regnant is not known as a 'King Consort' but rather as a Prince Consort.
Herewith is a list of all those wifes who were queen consorts and during their lifetimes merited the title of Queen of England. No attempt is made here to settle the argument as to who indeed was the first king of England, and therefore the list begins with the wife of Alfred the Great in order to ensure that no potential canditates for the title are omitted.
Anglo-Saxon and Danish Monarchs
Of the early Anglo-Saxon Monarchs prior to the Danish Conquest of 1017; neither Athelstan, the Eadred who succeeded Edmund the Magnificent nor Edward the Martyr, son of Edgar appear to have been married. Not all sources agree that Edward the Elder was actually married to Ecgwynn; some argue that she was merely a concubine.
As regards the later Danish rulers; Sigfrid was actually the second wife of Sweyn, but his first wife Gunhilda had died before Sweyn began his brief rule over England. Neither of Canute's successors Harold I nor Hardicanute were ever married. Incidentally Emma of Normandy has the distinction of being the only woman ever to have been married to two different kings of England. Of the last two 'Saxon' rulers they both married ladies by the name of Edith, Edith of Wessex being in fact Harold's sister.
House of Normandy
William I's son and successor William II neglected to marry but his younger brother Henry I made up for this by marrying twice.
Henry's intended successor was his daughter Matilda, who may or may not have been briefly Queen, but the crown was essentially seized by one Stephen.
House of Plantagenet
All the Plantagenet kings were married at least once, and as you can see they tended to prefer French wives, or continental ones at least.
In 1399 Richard II was deposed and replaced by his cousin Henry IV
House of Lancaster
House of York
By usurping the throne in 1399 Henry IV became the first Lancastrian king of England, but his grandson Henry VI proved inadequate for the task and was out-usurped by Edward IV, the founder of the royal House of York. His son and immediate successor Edward V never had the opportunity to marry. Richard III might well have married again after the death of Anne Neville, but was defeated and killed by Henry VII in 1485, who founded the House of Tudor.
House of Tudor
Henry VII married Elizabeth daughter of Edward IV symbolically uniting the divided Houses of York and Lancaster; his son Henry VIII famously had six wives, but his son and successor Edward VI
died before a suitable match could be arranged. Both Edward's half-sisters Mary I and Elizabeth I who succeeded him were Queens in their own right.
House of Stuart
As James I
was also king James VI
of Scotland, all the above were also Queen Consorts of Scotland. James II
was replaced by William and Mary
, and Mary II
was a Queen in her own right as indeed was her successor Anne
To be entirely pendantic, since Scotland and England were united in 1707, none of the following were queens were Queen Consorts of England but rather of Great Britain
House of Hanover
Actually Caroline of Brunswick was George IV's second wife, since he had previously been married to a Maria Smythe (aka Mrs Fitzherbert) in 1785. This marriage was however contrary to the Royal Marriage Act (Maria Smythe was a Roman Catholic) and was therefore declared invalid in 1786, well before he became king in 1820.
House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha
House of Windsor
The House of Winsdor is really only a continuation of the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha under a different name; Alexandra Oldenburg is still more commonly known as Queen Alexandra, Mary of Teck was generally known as Queen Mary and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon was better known as Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother). King Edward VIII had no Queen Consort, as his choice of wife was not deemed acceptable; hence although he did marry the 'notorious' Wallis Simpson nee Warfield, this was not until after he'd abdicated so she had to make do with being plain Duchess of Windsor.
The current monarch is of course Elizabeth II, a Queen in her own right, and although the heir apparent Prince Charles has now remarried his long time companion Camilla Parker Bowles it has been announced that when and if Charles succeeds his mother, his wife intends to adopt the title of Princess Consort rather than Queen.
Compiled from information at;
Fact checking at;
- Royal Genealogy information held at University of Hull see
- RoyaList Online at http://www.royalist.info/royalist/index.html
- Charles Arnold Baker The Companion to British History (Longcross Press, 1996)
Ann Williams, Alfred P. Smyth and D. P. Kirby A Biographical Dictionary of Dark Age Britain (Seaby, 1991)