Tuesday, 9 July 2013

The Royal Baby's Official Title & Styles -- Plus other relevant Title FAQs.

A few days ago, several news sources were quick to proclaim the "breaking news" that the official title of the royal baby had been formally announced as "The Prince/Princess of Cambridge".

No it hadn't. 

As the misleading reports continue unabated, I would like to settle this issue and also deal with some related questions which often arise in connection with the confusing subject of royal styles and titles. I hope this guide will provide some clarity.

A ROYAL BABY STYLES AND TITLES FAQ:

Q1:  If the child of a Duke and Duchess is a Prince(ss) will he/she outrank the parents?

Answer:  NO.

The Duke of Cambridge is also a prince and a Royal Highness and therefore the child will not outrank the parents. Children and wives normally take their status from their father/husband. Consequently, the title borne by the child will reflect his/her status as the child of Prince William: "Prince(ss) X of Cambridge".

Traditionally, the child of a "Prince of the Blood Royal" would automatically become a prince or princess upon birth, irrespective of whether his/her father is a royal duke. A royal dukedom is a substantive peerage title whereas "prince" is a titular dignity -- they are very different creatures.

In 1917, King George V issued Letters Patent which regulated who was entitled to be styled as a "prince" or "princess" and be called "His/Her Royal Highness". Those so entitled included the children of the Sovereign, the children of the sons of the Sovereign, and the eldest living son of the son of the Prince of Wales. Importantly, this last category would have applied to a son of Prince William but not to a daughter.

Consequently, in December 2012, to accommodate the possibility of the birth of a daughter to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, The Queen declared that the 1917 LP would be amended so that all children of the son of the Prince of Wales would be granted the dignity of "prince" or "princess" and be called "Royal Highness". [This was not the first such amendment: In 1948 our Queen's father, King George VI, amended the 1917 LP to include the children of Princess Elizabeth (who would otherwise have been denied the status of "HRH Prince/Princess)]. 

The royal child will be "Prince(ss) X of Cambridge" and *not* "Prince(ss) of Cambridge" as this latter style implies they are holders of substantive titles. Many of the media reports of the past few days have been disappointing -- we have known how the baby would be styled for months, if not years. This is not news. The title follows the standard format for royal babies and has long-established precedence.

HRH The Duke of Gloucester
HRH The Duke of Kent
Q2: Will the child of the Duke of Cambridge bear a courtesy title (a junior title held by the father)?

Answer: NO.

The status of "HRH Prince" trumps a courtesy title (such as that borne by the son of a non-royal Duke) and that is why the royal baby would be known as "Prince(ss) X of Cambridge".

Royal Dukes outrank noble Dukes. Although a non-royal Duke would permit his son to style himself with a courtesy title, this is not the case for Royal Dukes as their princely status is deemed higher than a courtesy title of Marquess, Earl, Viscount or Baron. For example, when their fathers were alive, the current Dukes of Gloucester and Kent were not known by the courtesy titles that would have been appropriate had they been noble, rather than royal, dukes (respectively Earl of Ulster and Earl of St. Andrews). Instead they were styled "HRH Prince Richard of Gloucester" and "HRH Prince Edward of Kent". Similarly, when George VI was Duke of York, his daughter, our current Queen, was known as  "HRH Princess Elizabeth of York" -- and so it shall be with the issue of the Duke of Cambridge.

By virtue of the 1917 Letters Patent, Gloucester and Kent will cease to be royal dukedoms in the next generation. Consequently, as the sons of the current Duke of Kent and Duke of Gloucester are not Royal Highnesses or princes they bear the courtesy titles one would expect for future noble dukes: Earl of St. Andrews (Kent) and Earl of Ulster (Gloucester).

The Earl of Ulster
The Earl of St. Andrews




Q3: So does a Royal Duke outrank a Prince?

Answer: The practical reality is that Royal Dukes do not necessarily outrank Princes. The official precedence of royals in the UK is determined by the closeness of the relationship with the Sovereign. Thus Royal Dukes do not impact upon ranking in the table of precedence. With one exception: the grandsons of the Sovereign who are royal dukes outrank their non royal duke cousins. This is why the Duke of Kent and Duke of Gloucester are ranked above HRH Prince Michael of Kent. 

HRH Prince Michael of Kent
Q4. Will Prince William succeed to his father's titles upon Prince Charles' accession to the throne as Sovereign?

Answer: YES and NO.

When Prince Charles becomes King, Prince William will automatically succeed to the titles of Duke of Cornwall (to be used as the superior title outside Scotland) and Duke of Rothesay (to be used as the superior title within Scotland). He will not automatically become Prince of Wales.

Q5. Will Prince William use "Duke of Cambridge" after he also becomes Duke of Cornwall but before he is installed as Prince of Wales?.

Answer: This will be a matter of choice (as is now so often the case with royal titles!). George III was known as "Duke of Edinburgh" in the short period between his father's death and becoming Prince of Wales. In contrast, as he was already Duke of York upon becoming heir apparent, George V was known as "Duke of Cornwall and York".



6 comments:

Dean Tiegs said...

I thought that a daughter would not be HRH under the current letters patent -- please correct me if I’m wrong. As far as I know, despite the ongoing changes to the succession rules, no change has been made to the HRH rules, so only children of the sovereign, children of sons of the sovereign, and the eldest son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales are HRH, which would exclude all daughters and younger sons of the Duke of Cambridge. Wouldn’t a daughter be Lady Firstname Mountbatten-Windsor?

heydel-mankoo.com said...

Dear Dean,

In December 2012, to accommodate the possibility of the birth of a daughter to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, The Queen declared that the 1917 LP would be amended so that all children of the son of the Prince of Wales would be granted the dignity of "prince" or "princess" and be called "Royal Highness".

Dickie Ellis said...

Dear Rafe,

Thanks for your analysis of this issue - as always, v interesting and high quality!

If you don't mind, I wondered if you could clarify one point. You say that "Royal Dukes do not impact upon ranking in the table of precedence" and I would absolutely agree with you. However, you then go onto say that there is an exception in that "grandsons of the Sovereign who are royal dukes outrank their non royal duke cousins. This is why the Duke of Kent and Duke of Gloucester are ranked above HRH Prince Michael of Kent."

While you are clearly right that the Duke of Kent and the Duke of Gloucester are ranked above Prince Michael, I would have thought that this was because of their higher places in the order of succession. If, as you say, the status of royal duke has an impact on determining precedence as between grandsons of the sovereign then could you not have a situation in which the order of precedence differed from the order of succession? For instance, if the late Prince William of Gloucester had lived and succeeded as Duke of Gloucester, then the current Duke would be Prince Richard of Gloucester. If what you say is correct and "grandsons of the Sovereign who are royal dukes outrank their non royal duke cousins" then the Duke of Kent would outrank Prince Richard. In the order of succession, however, Prince Richard would precede the Duke of Kent. Is that right? If so, it seems a curious anomaly.

Thanks again,

Dickie Ellis

heydel-mankoo.com said...

Dear Dickie,

Thank you for your comment. The Table of Precedence and the Order of Succession do differ; for example, the Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex outrank The Duke of Cambridge in the Table of Precedence but not in the Order of Succession. The precedence of members of the Royal Family in the Table of Precedence is based upon their status and relationship *to* the current Sovereign whilst the Order of Succession is based upon descent *from* a previous Sovereign (in this case King George V). The Table of Precedence specifically ranks "grandsons of former sovereigns who are dukes" above grandsons of former sovereigns who are not dukes". I can see why you would view this as an anomaly but one must view the Table of Precedence and the Order of Succession as two distinct rankings.

Best,

Rafe

Dickie Ellis said...

Dear Rafe,

Thanks for explaining - given that this was such a basic misunderstanding on my part it was kind of you to bother! Once one realises the differences between the two lists it all makes sense.

Thanks also for re-posting yr excellent piece re whether or not an unborn royal baby could inherit the throne - v interesting about Queen Victoria's accession.

All the best,

Dickie

Dave Boven said...

Great stuff, Rafe. I especially like the image of HRH the Duke of Gloucester. It appears to be the one that my wife took of him at an Order of St John investiture service in St. Louis. I subsequently uploaded it to the public domain on Wikipedia and have even seen it used in a number of Priory publications here in the states. Thanks again for continually keeping everyone in line about all this Royal Baby Mania!

Peace,
Dave