It is not easy to find your way around the many laws and conventions that have been handed down over the centuries within the royal family regarding the transmission of real titles. Until 1917 there was not a single rule that clarified situations of uncertainty, until it was King George V who put in writing that all the monarch’s sons were entitled to titles.
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But what about grandchildren? The turn of the century document granted the treatment of prince and princess only to grandchildren in the male line, not in the female line. It is no coincidence that both Peter and Zara, the two children of Princess Anne, do not boast titles and therefore remain minor members of the British royal family.
Until a few years ago there was a similar discrimination even among great-grandchildren. The only one who was entitled to the title was George, as the firstborn son. This means that if the Queen Elizabeth had not put his hand to the law introduced by his grandfather, neither Charlotte nor Louis would have been princess and prince right from the start.
At their birth, however, the sovereign made sure that they too could boast the same rights from an early age, in line with the new laws on gender equality. Summarizing in the words of the royal historian Marlene Koenig interviewed by the Daily Express, the Patent Letters of 1917 “established the current system of who is real and who is not”: “[Questi sono] the sons of the ruler, the grandchildren of the ruler in the male line and the eldest son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales. Queen Elizabeth II changed the last clause for [includere] all the sons of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales. This was done at a time when the new inheritance legislation for gender equality was about to become law. ‘
“If the queen hadn’t changed that,” explains Koenig, “and William’s first child had been a girl, she would have been designated Lady Charlotte, not Princess Charlotte. Only the eldest son would have had royal titles until Charles became king ». Once Charles ascended the throne, Charlotte and Louis would turn out to be grandchildren of the new king in the male line and, as a result, they would still become princess and prince. Elisabetta did nothing but speed up the times and first grant a right that they would equally enjoy in a few years.
The clause has not been extended to the great-grandchildren Archie and Lilibet, who for the moment are not yet authorized to have royal titles, at least until Charles is king.
Last updated: Saturday 6 August 2022, 14:22
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