Online Encyclopedia

CONSORT (Lat. consors, a companion)

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V06, Page 980 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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CONSORT (Lat. consors, a companion), in general, a partner or associate, but more particularly a husband or wife. The word is also used in conjunction with some titles, as " queen consort," " prince consort." Under the law of the United Kingdom, the queen consort is a subject, but has certain privileges. By the Treason Act 1351, the compassing and imagining her death is high treason, as is also the commission of adultery with her. With regard to the acquisition and disposal of property, the incurring of rights and liabilities under contract, suing and being sued, a queen consort is regarded as a feme sole (32 Henry VIII. c. 51, 1540; Private Property of the Sovereign Act x800). The queen consort has her own ceremonial officers and appears in the courts by her attorney- and solicitor-general. At one time she had a revenue out of the demesne lands of the crown and a portion of any sum paid by a subject to the king in return for a grant of any office or franchise; this was termed aurum reginae or queen-gold. Provision is now made for the queen consort by statute. When the husband of a queen consort dies she becomes a queen dowager. A queen dowager is not under the protection of the law of treason. It is said (Blackstone, Commentaries) that she cannot marry without the king's licence, but this is doubtful. A queen regnant, holding the crown in her own right, has all the prerogatives of a sovereign. In the four cases of queens regnant in English history, the husbands' positions have each been different. When Queen Mary I. married Philip of Spain it was provided by every safeguard that words could suggest that the queen alone should exercise all the powers of the crown; official documents, however, were to issue in their joint names. William III. occupied the throne jointly with his wife, Mary II. The husband of Queen Anne, George of Denmark, who was naturalized by act of parliament in 1689, occupied no definite position, and differed only from other subjects of the queen in the conditions of his naturalization. The position of Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, the husband of Queen Victoria, was somewhat like that of Prince George of Denmark. A few days before his marriage he had been naturalized as a British subject, and immediately after his marriage letters patent were issued, giving him precedence next to the queen. He had, however, no distinctive title, and the privileges and precedence he received were only by courtesy. As the patent which gave him precedence was inoperative outside the United Kingdom, certain difficulties occurred at foreign courts, and in order to settle these, the formal title of " Prince Consort " was conferred upon him by letters patent in 1857.
End of Article: CONSORT (Lat. consors, a companion)
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