Thursday, November 30, 2017

We are already talking about children?


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In the United Kingdom betting parlors are already taking bets on when  Prince Harry and Miss Markle will be having their first child  ... after they are married of course.

There are already heated discussions on Twitter about the status of possible children.  Royal ... Not Royal.  HRH  or no HRH.

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 In December 1917, King George V issued a Letters Patent that limited the the style and title of HRH Prince or Princess of the United Kingdom of Great Britain (and at that time) Ireland (now Northern Ireland.)

"Whitehall, 11th December, 1917.
The KING has been pleased by Letters Patent under the Great Seal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, bearing date the 30th ultimo, to define the styles and titles to be borne henceforth by members of the Royal Family. It is declared by the Letters Patent that the children of any Sovereign of the United Kingdom and the children of the sons of any such Sovereign and the eldest living son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales shall have and at all times hold and enjoy the style, title or attribute of Royal Highness with their titular dignity of Prince or Princess prefixed to their respective Christian names or with their other titles of honour; that save as aforesaid the titles of Royal Highness, Highness or Serene Highness, and the titular dignity of Prince and Princess shall cease except those titles already granted and remaining unrevoked; and that the "grandchildren of the sons of any such Sovereign in the direct male line (save only the eldest living son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales) shall have the style and title enjoyed by the children of Dukes"."


This means the following:

Children of the sovereign.  HRH Prince or Princess
Grandchildren of the sovereign in the MALE line  HRH Prince or Princess
Eldest son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales  HRH Prince.

and for the rest: "grandchildren of the sons of any such Sovereign in the direct male line (save only the eldest living son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales) shall have the style and title enjoyed by the children of Dukes".

This Letters Patent affected one Prince -- three-year-old HH Prince Alastair Arthur of Connaught, only child of TRH Prince and Princess Arthur of Connaught.  Prince Arthur was the only son of HRH Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, third son of Queen Victoria.

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 In 1864,  Queen Victoria issued a Letters Patent that extended the HRH to the children of the sons of the Sovereign.

"Whitehall, Feb. 3.
The Queen has been pleased by letters patent under the Great Seal, to declare her Royal will and pleasure that, besides the children of the Sovereigns of these realms, the children of the sons of any Sovereign of Great Britain and Ireland shall have, and at all times hold and enjoy, the style, title or attribute of Royal Highness with their titular dignity of Prince or Princess prefixed to their respective christian names, or with their other titles of honour; and further to declare her will and pleasure that the Earl Marshal of England, or his Deputy for the time being, do cause the said letters patent to be recorded in Her Majesty's College of Arms to the end that the officers of arms, and all others, may take due notice thereof."

Great-grandchildren (and further down) in the male line were Princes and Princesses of the United Kingdom but were entitled only to the HH.

This means that the three eldest children of TRH The Duke and Duchess of York (the future George V) were entitled to HH Prince Edward, HH Prince Albert and HH Princess Mary of York.)

In 1898,  Queen Victoria issued a Letters Patent that extended the HRH to the children of the eldest son of any Prince of Wales.

"Crown Office, May 31, 1898
The Queen has been pleased by letters patent under the Great Seal, to declare that the children of the eldest son of any Prince of Wales shall have, and at all times hold and enjoy, the style, title, and attribute of "Royal Highness"."

Carl Eduard (Charles Edward), only son of Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, succeeded his paternal uncle, Alfred, as the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.  His children were HH for Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (except the eldest son, as heir apparent, who was HRH) and HH as Princes and Princesses of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.   Prince Ernst August, the Duke of Cumberland, a great-grandson of George III and his male line descendants were HRH Princes and Princesses of Hannover, but their British rank was HH.

This brings us back to 1917.  The Letters Patent did not include a grandfather's clause that allowed those who already had the HH and title of Prince or Princess  to keep those titles. (The Hanovers were not happy about this as they represented the only direct male line from George III.  Ernst August and Carl Eduard were stripped of their British peerages with the passage of the Titles Deprivation Act.

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In the United Kingdom, the only person affected was the toddler Alastair.  He ceased to be HH and a Prince.  His mother was Duchess of Fife in her own right, so he was styled by her second title, Earl of Macduff.  He was the eventual heir to both the Connaught and Streathearn and Fife dukedoms.   Prince Arthur of Connaught died in 1938.  The Duke of Connaught died in 1942, and his grandson succeeded as the 2nd Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, as Your Grace and not Royal Highness.   The 2nd Duke died a year after his grandfather, and the Connaught and Strathearn dukedoms reverted to the Crown.  As Connaught is located in the Republic of Ireland, the title cannot be recreated.

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 Fast forward to 2013.   The Duchess of Cambridge is expecting her first child.  The new succession law (gender equal) had recently gone into effect, which meant that if the first child were a girl, she would remain ahead of any brothers born after her.   But if the Duchess' first child were a girl, she would not have the HRH and the title of Princess until Charles succeeded to the throne.  She would have been styled as the Lady Charlotte Windsor and her younger brother would have been styled as HRH Prince George of Cambridge.

On December 31, 2012, Queen Elizabeth II issued a Letters Patent that gave the HRH and title Prince or Princess to all the children of the eldest son of eldest son of the Prince of Wales.

 “The QUEEN has been pleased by Letters Patent under the Great Seal of the Realm dated 31 December 2012 to declare that all the children of the eldest son of The Prince of Wales should have and enjoy the style, title and attribute of Royal Highness with the titular dignity of Prince or Princess prefixed to their Christian names or with such other titles of honour.”

So where does this leave Prince Harry's children.  The 1917 Letters Patent makes it clear that his children who are "grandchildren of the sons of any such Sovereign in the direct male line (save only the eldest living son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales) shall have the style and title enjoyed by the children of Dukes".

Harry's peerage will be most certainly a ducal title, precisely because of the 1917 Letters patent.  His children will have the style and title enjoyed by the children of Dukes".

This already applies to the children of HRH The Duke of Kent, HRH The Duke of Gloucester and HRH Prince Michael of Kent.

There is a loophole in the 1917 Letters Patent regarding the styles and titles.  If Meghan's first child is born during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II,   this child will be styled as Earl of whatever or the Lady Christian  Windsor.  Her second child is born during the reign of Charles III. This child, according to the 1917 Letters Patent, would be a Prince or Princess and HRH.   Does the wording in the 1917 Letters Patent allow for an upgrade to HRH and Prince/ess for the first born as all of Harry and Meghan's children will be grandchildren of the Sovereign.


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(Don't mention the Earl of Wessex's children.  No Letters Patent was issued for their style. According to the 1917 Letters Patent, Louise and James are HRH Princess Louise and Prince James of Wessex.  They are STYLED as The Lady Louise Windsor and Viscount Severn, with the rank of children of an earl.)

The issue on how the children will styled must be clarified at the time when the first pregnancy is announced.

I fully expect that at the time of the first pregnancy ... or even on the day of the wedding when Harry's title is announced... that we will know how the children will be styled.  I believe the children will be styled as it states in the 1917 Letters Patent as children of a duke.    I do not think Her Majesty will issue a new Letters Patent giving the HRH and the title Prince/ess to Harry's children before Charles is king.   So what will happen when Charles succeeds to the throne?  Will Harry's children get an automatic bump up to HRH and Prince or Princess?  We do not know.  

We also do not (yet) what Harry and Meghan want for their children.  They may be content with the ducal status for their progeny.   




3 comments:

Matthew Plooster said...

It will be interesting. A focus on a slimmed down royal family, mixed with Harry's interesting attitude about being a prince, my money is on their children styled with ducal status. However, one doesn't know what Charles's desires will be once he is king. Edward VII did issue special letters patent for the Alexandra and Maud Fife, granting them the style of Highness and Princess, wanting his grandchildren to all have the title of prince/ss.

And I'm not recalling where I had read this, but there was rumor that Princess Alexandra and Angus Ogilvy later regretted their decision of their children carrying no title (lord, lady), with Angus saying he felt they set a precedent that Princess Anne and Mark Philips followed. Supposedly, Angus felt that the grandchildren of the sovereign should be titled. Again, I cannot recall the source...

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

The HH is now gone. It was Angus who said it an interview (and I have mentioned it numerous times) that he regretted not accepting an earldom because it set a precedent that allowed Anne and Mark to decline an earldom. Angus did say that he believed all of the Queen's grandchildren should be titled.

Matthew Plooster said...

Precisely. I thought the HH for the Fifes was interesting - all the rest of Edward's grandchildren are HRHs, I had thought. Time will tell as I imagine so many of these decisions are more the preference of the monarch of the day rather than those on the receiving end (i.e. Harry and Meghan and their children).