Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall greet public outside the Millenium Sports Institute on November 12, 2012 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Getty Images)
LONDON -- Even as she charms crowds on tour Down Under, Prince Charles' wife, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, faces an awkward future with an awkward title when her husband becomes king, according to his official website.
An otherwise unnoticed statement on princeofwales.gov.uk, which reiterates what has been said since Charles and Camilla wed in 2005, is suddenly getting attention in the U.K., where the Brits are ever alert to any talk about what happens when the Prince of Wales becomes King Charles III and his wife becomes ... well, what?
"It is intended that The Duchess will be known as HRH The Princess Consort when The Prince of Wales accedes to The Throne," is the bland answer to that question under the FAQ section of the website, which was just redesigned and launched last week.
Some people, notably the Daily Beast's royalist columnist, Tom Sykes, are shocked, shocked. It's a "callous" way to announce this, he writes, and makes "being dumped by text seem positively gracious."
But it's hardly news. Usually, the wife of a king becomes the queen consort, typically shortened to queen, and is crowned alongside him. But Camilla faced fierce resistance becoming Charles' second wife, blamed by many Brits as the other-woman cause of the collapse of his first marriage to the late, beloved Princess Diana.
When they wed, Charles said Camilla would be called Duchess of Cornwall instead of Princess of Wales, and in the future she would not be called queen. But since then he has dropped hints that, well, maybe she might.
It is up to Charles to decide this, but a modern monarch is well advised to consider the views of the people and the government of the day. After all, look what happened to a previous King Charles (off with his head).
Meanwhile, Charles and Camilla have worked hard to improve Camilla's image with the British and have been remarkably successful given the toxic sentiments about her. She has been fully embraced by Diana's sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, as well as Queen Elizabeth II.
She and Charles are wrapping up a successful tour of Papua New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand, where they have been greeted by enthusiastic crowds and pictured cuddling cute critters such as baby kangaroos and koalas.
If she does become Princess Consort instead of Queen Camilla, she would not be the first wife of a monarch to take an unconventional title. But that's another story.