Prince Charles has said for the first time that his wife Camilla could be crowned queen, reopening a debate over the status of the woman he married eight years after the death of Princess Diana.
His comments in an interview with the US network NBC, to be broadcast later Friday, come days after Britain's royals were back in the spotlight with the announcement that Charles' son Prince William is to marry Kate Middleton.
Charles' words, which were recorded in August at a castle in Scotland, are apparently at odds with the official position after the couple wed in 2005 that Camilla would have the title Princess Consort.
In extracts carried in British media, Charles hesitated after he was asked whether Camilla, whose current title is the Duchess of Cornwall, would become queen if and when he accedes the throne after Queen Elizabeth II.
"Well I mean, that's, that's, well, we'll see won't we? But, that could be," Charles told NBC.
Charles also discussed the effects of intensive media coverage on his sons, and of his fears when his youngest son Harry, 26, was sent to Afghanistan with the British military.
Polls have previously indicated that a majority of Britons do not wish to see "Queen Camilla", partly out of sympathy for Charles' first wife Diana, who died in a car crash in Paris in August 1997.
Camilla was Charles' long-standing mistress through much of his marriage to Diana. Diana at one point commented in a famous television interview: "Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded."
Prince William -- Charles and Diana's eldest son -- revealed on Tuesday that he had given his mother's engagement ring to Middleton, saying it was "very special to me".
Camilla showed the down-to-earth humour for which she has gained a growing reputation when she said of the couple after their engagement: "I'm just so happy and so are they. It's wicked."