Monday, August 15, 2016

A Royal Misnomer: Anne did not turn down a royal title for her children

No, no, no!

 The Princess Royal never turned down a royal title for her two children.   Royal titles (HRH and Prince or Princess of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) are limited to the children of the sovereign,  the grandchildren of the sovereign in the MALE line and to the children of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales.

When Princess Anne married Captain Mark Phillips in 1973 it was expected that Mark would be offered an earldom, following the precedence of Antony Armstrong-Jones, the husband of Princess Margaret.  Shortly before the birth of their first child,  Mr. Armstrong-Jones was created Earl of Snowdon and Viscount Linley by Queen Elizabeth II.

Three years after Margaret's marriage,  her first cousin, Princess Alexandra, married the Hon. Angus Ogilvy, who declined an earldom from the Queen.  Some years later,   Ogilvy lamented that Princess Anne's children were not titled (as they were grandchildren of the sovereign) and he felt that by declining an earldom from the Queen, he set a terrible precedence that allowed Anne and Mark to turn down the Queen's request to create an earldom for Mark (and the courtesy titles) for their children.

One of the "titles" bandied about was the Earl of Great Somerford (where Mark grew up.).   He would also have been given a viscountcy, which would have been used by his first son.   Zara and her younger half sister, Stephanie, would have been styled as the Lady Zara and the Lady Stephanie Phillips.

Anne never declined a royal title because British princesses cannot pass their rank and title to their children.  (There are exceptions. In 1948, King George VI issued a Letters Patent that gave the HRH and title of Prince or Princess to then Princess Elizabeth's children.  If the King had not done this,  Charles and Anne would have been styled as the Earl of Merioneth and the Lady Anne Mountbatten, taking their rank and styles from their father, the Duke of Edinburgh.  They would have gained the royal titles when their mother succeeded to the throne if George VI had not issued the Letters Patent.)


Michelle said...

Do you know if invitations are sent with the distinction between personal & official invitations? In some cases it would be obvious; however, given the close familial links with many of the monarchies, I imagine there would be times an invitation is sent that is personal AND official in nature. For example, let's say that there's an event to mark the ascension to the throne of a relative. Would they address the invitation to their dear cousin, or to the king/queen of the country?

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

official events go through official channels - such as the Lord Chamberlain's office for the British. The Lord Chamberlain's office sends out the invitation to a royal wedding, for example. Charles' coronation invitation will include By Command of the King, the Earl Marshal is directed to invite ... handwritten name to .... Princess Anne's office probably sent out the invitations to her kids weddings, with less formality. The other monarchies have similar offices that handle official occasions.