Friday Lore Post: The Responsibilities of the Royal Consort

Being married to a monarch is not so simple as helping them produce heirs. That is of course a main component of such a marriage, but the monarch consort has responsibilities that go far beyond that, which many people never realize.

Terminology wise, the correct styling for the spouse of the monarch is “his/her Highness the Queen/King-Consort,” and their official title is Royal Consort. Colloquially, they are typically referred to as either the king or queen, which is convenient but incorrect in a technical sense. Many believe there is no point in fighting against the widespread usage of this terminology, as even the most precise writings on the subject tend to slip into it, but precision is always a valuable tool.  

The royal consort’s most obvious job is of course to help the monarch produce children. For this reason, their relationships with other people tend to be slightly more scrutinized than the average noble, because illegitimate children among other noble houses can cause inheritance problems, but illegitimate children in the royal family can cause civil wars. The largest-scale of such events was the rebellion of House Ovelmach beginning in DN 1563, when Ulysses Ovelmach contested King Grant IV’s claim to the throne on the basis that Grant IV and his mother, Grace XI, were not the legitimate descendants of Grace XI’s father, Giles I. This was on the basis of rumour that King Giles’s wife Lucinda had conducted an affair with Lord Edgar Draughten, who was supposedly Queen Grace XI’s father. This rumour was never proven true, but House Ovelmach and their allies claimed that the line of succession should pass through Giles I’s second child Louis, who happened to be Ulysses Ovelmach’s recently deceased father. It was nearly five decades before the ensuing conflict was resolved, partly due to a marriage in which Ulysses’s granddaughter Uma became royal consort after being married to Grant IV’s grandson, Grant V. Rumours that Queen Uma was conducting an affair with Grant’s brother Godfrey followed her through her husband’s reign but were never proven and caused no further strife.

Aside from having children, however, the royal consort also has a host of other responsibilities. They are typically tasked with administrating the royal family’s personal lands and properties in the monarch’s stead, as the monarch is responsible for overseeing the entirety of the kingdom’s affairs. Though they are generally not required to attend when the monarch holds court, traditionally the royal consort will do so at least half the time, and informally their role is often to advocate clemency when the monarch might try to be too stringent in interpreting the law.

Though it is the monarch’s job to hear petitions from all over the kingdom, the royal consort often informally hears petitions as well, generally to avoid having them brought before the monarch. Certain petitions might be considered too sensitive or private to be petitioned in public. To employ a recent example, the dissolution of Lorelai Archerloft and Martin Hardhold’s marriage after four months in DN 1974 was declared after Lady Lorelai had a private audience with the King Gerard V’s consort, Georgina. Georgina ven Sacnte is also known to have been responsible for the Dolovin crown refusing to negotiate with the Guild of Bardic Performers during their two-year strike from DN 1990-1992. Her reasoning for keeping the guild’s demands from being publicly heard in Gerard V’s court is stated to have been that the issue was too complex to reduce to a short audience, as well as a distrust that the guild’s leader wouldn’t try to use the public audience to garner public sympathy for his cause. Rumours that the royal consort and the guild’s songmaster had a personal disagreement stemming from their youth are unsubstantiated.

The royal consort is also responsible for organizing royal events such as banquets, weddings, funerals, as well as royal visits and travel. The extent to which this is delegated to staff depends on the consort, but some level of delegation most certainly always takes place, as nobody expects the royal consort to personally decide exactly what type of cake will be present at every event. Correspondence between the crown and whatever noble house it is visiting is always handled by the royal consort, and it is traditional for visits between monarchs to be preceded with a long correspondence between the two consorts—this entry has notably focused on the Dolovin monarchy, but the Kyainese royal consort’s role is nearly identical, as are those of Yavhorel consorts, with the major exception being that Yavhorel consorts are also expected to maintain the nation’s relationship with its divinities in the monarch’s stead.

Because the monarch is definitionally the face of the monarchy, efforts tend to be made to keep them away from the more unsavoury parts of ruling. In cases where spying or dealings with black markets or various unkempt characters are necessary, the royal consort will often quietly handle those, generally through proxies, so that if anything goes wrong, the monarch will not be implicated. Though the kingdom’s spymaster reports to the monarch, they generally work in concert with the royal consort to ensure that problems don’t become problems. There is no estimate to how many assassinations or other shady plots have been staved off by an assiduous royal consort because they were in fact staved off, but sources known to the author estimate that during the reign of King Gerard V, his royal consort Georgina prevented no less than six assassination plots against him, as well as several against his children, before the knives could ever come out.

Some have argued that the royal consort works harder to keep the kingdom together than the monarch does. Presumably whether this is true depends on the monarch and their consort. Whatever the truth at the time, what is clear is that the royal consort’s job is a very challenging one indeed, and that they are a figure not to be underestimated in any political interaction.

From “The Definitive Atlas of the World, Vol. 3: Institutions and Organizations,” by Pascal Tiberius Naoton Quimbell Haeverine anNatalie, published in White Cape in DN 1997.

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