Wednesday, 9 January 2013

All children of Prince William to be princes and princesses

In yesterday’s issue of The London Gazette (external link) we may read that Queen Elizabeth II of Britain has issued letters patent, dated 31 December 2012, which say 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”.
In practice this means that the first child of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, which is expected later this year, will be a Princess if it is a daughter, whereas she would have been simply styled “Lady” under the previous letters patent, which restricted the title of Prince(ss) to the children and male-line grandchildren of the monarch and the eldest son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales.


  1. As others have noted, the description suggests the letters patent are worded generally, to apply to future generations as well. If such is the case, it is quite notable that the letters patent are poorly suited for a gender-neutral succession - not only do they presuppose the existence of a Prince of Wales, but if the Cambridges had a daughter followed by a son, the son's children would automatically be entitled to the royal style, while the future queen's children would not - a ludicrous situation.

    Hopefully, this is merely a stopgap measure, as some have suggested, and not an indication that Queen Elizabeth does not expect the succession laws to be changed in the near future.

    1. Indeed; as we know that the succession laws will soon be changed my interpretation is that this letters patent only relate to the way things are at the moment, so indeed new letters patent will be needed.


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