How should we address The late Queen?
Written by William HansonThe English Manner, The UK’s Leading Etiquette and Protocol Training Institute 310 310
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William joined The English Manner in 2008 before taking ownership in 2019. He is widely regarded as the freshest and most trusted authority on etiquette and civility, with his relative youth and old-fashioned values making him an arbiter of modern manners.Connect with William Hanson on LinkedIn Follow William Hanson on Instagram
9 June 2023
During the reign of Elizabeth II (1952 – 2022), we addressed Her Majesty as any Queen regnant would be addressed, ‘The Queen’. But since her death on 8th September 2022, many people do not know what to call Britain’s longest-reigning Monarch. So how should we address the late Queen?
Strap yourselves in, however, as this majestic explanation can get confusing.
Even after Elizabeth II died, Buckingham Palace decided to style Camilla, wife of King Charles III, as ‘The Queen Consort’ until the Coronation on 6th May 2023 to avoid confusion between the late Queen and the new Queen.
Before we go any further, however, let’s clear up the differences between types of Queens, as there are several.
Elizabeth Alexandra Mary (1926 – 2022) was a Queen Regnant. Queens Regnant are female Monarchs who reign over a realm in their own right. Other notable examples are Elizabeth I and Victoria. During their reign, Queens Regnant are called ‘The Queen’ (note no use of their first name).
A Queen Consort is married to a reigning King but does not share their husband’s political or military power. Other examples are Edward VII’s wife, Alexandra, between 1901 and 1910 and George V’s wife, Mary, between 1910 and 1936. During the reign of their husbands, Queen Consorts are known as ‘The Queen’ or ‘Queen FirstName’.
A Queen Dowager is a widowed Queen Consort, such as Queen Alexandra and Queen Mary, respectively, after Edward VII and George V died. Once widowed, Queen Dowagers are referred to as ‘Queen FirstName’ but not ‘The Queen’.
All types of Queens listed above get the ‘Her/Your Majesty’ styling.
With me so far? What follows is where it gets tricky.
Elizabeth II may now be called Queen Elizabeth or Elizabeth II. Informally you can use ‘the late Queen’, which sounds warmer too, but will pass with time.
But by switching to styling Britain’s longest reigning Monarch as ‘Queen Elizabeth’, we now encounter a problem.
After 1952, The late Queen’s mother, who was born Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, was referred to as Queen Elizabeth. During both their lifetimes, to avoid confusing her with her daughter, who – after she acceded to the throne as Queen Regnant – was ‘The Queen’, the Royal Household also attached ‘Queen Mother’ to the title (although this was reportedly never used in front of The Queen Mother). Thus her title was ‘Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother’.
Incidentally, a Queen Mother is a type of Queen Dowager, where the person in question is the mother of a reigning Monarch.
Thus, how do we now distinguish between the two Queen Elizabeths?
Elizabeth II is now referred to as such or ‘Queen Elizabeth’, and her mother should be ‘Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother’.
Find out more about the life and reign of Queen Elizabeth, as well as the current British Royal Family, on their official website.