The Real Reason A Queen's Husband Isn't The King

The royal family follows a lot of rules. These can involve what they wear, how they walk, or what to say, but one of the lesser-known ones has to do with titles. For example, Elizabeth II is Her Majesty the Queen, but her husband remains His Royal Highness, Prince Philip. Why is that?

Husbands of queens do not immediately become kings, particularly if they don't hold the keys to a kingdom themselves. This tradition is based on the idea that no one ranks higher than the reigning monarch. Men marrying into royalty cannot take the male version of their wife's title if it is higher than them. Kings always outrank queens in the patriarchal world of royal titles, as Town & Country Magazine explains. Now, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, was born into royalty. He's the son of Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark and Princess Alice of Battenberg, a granddaughter of his wife's great, great grandmother. His uncle was King Constantine I of Greece. The family fled Greece when he was 18 months old, per the Royal Family website. He became a naturalized British citizen, and renounced his foreign royal titles in order to marry Queen Elizabeth. After their wedding, Philip was given the title Duke of Edinburgh and then made a Prince of the United Kingdom.

Of course, Prince Philip is not the first queen's husband to take a lesser title.

Prince consorts can be made, but king consorts must be born

Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert, a German prince like Philip, was given the title Prince Consort after he married her. Albert supported his wife by pursuing his interests in science and agriculture. Since he grew up in continental Europe, as states, he proved influential in Victoria's foreign policy.

The United Kingdom is not the only country where men married to the queen do not become king. Prince Henrik, the husband of Denmark's Queen Margrethe, was granted the title of Prince Consort. However, he always hated not being called a king, and considered it an insult, writes the BBC. In 2016, he renounced the title of Prince Consort, and the year after declared he did not want to be buried next to the queen.

But sometimes a queen's husband successfully becomes a king. William of Orange became King William III when he became co-ruler with his wife Queen Mary II, the Historic Royal Palaces site says. Mary II was the daughter of the deposed James II, and when she was invited to rule in her father's place, she refused to do so unless her husband was crowned king, too. In Spain, Queen Isabella II named her husband Francis, Duke of Cadiz, her King Consort, according to Encyclopedia Britannicabut their marriage was controversial, and she eventually abdicated in favor of her son.

So while women married to princes become queens, men do not become kings just by marriage.