In the mid-1990s, Queen and other senior members of the British Royal Family founded the Way Ahead Group, which was designed to face and deal with the then growing criticism of the royal family following the divorces of the Prince and Princess of Wales, the Duke and Duchess of York, and, to a lesser degree, the Princess Royal and Mark Phillips. The death of Diana, Princess of Wales in September 1997, further exacerbated the criticism toward the monarchy.
One of the primary goals of the Way Ahead group, which included the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales, the Princess Royal and the Duke of York, was to "modernize" the royal family. The Prince of Wales' stated goal was to have a slimmed down monarchy with the focus on his sons and their families.
In 1917, King George V issued a Letters Patent that limited the HRH and title Prince or Princess to the children of the Sovereign, the grandchildren of the Sovereign in the male line and the eldest son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales. (Several months before the Duchess of Cambridge gave birth to Prince George in 2013, Queen Elizabeth II issued a letters patent that extended the HRH to all of the Duke of Cambridge, the eldest son of the Prince of Wales. This was done in the case the couple's first child was a daughter, who according to the new succession law, would never be preceded by a brother in the line of succession.)
The 1917 Letters Patent provided for a royal family, where attrition would play a role in keeping down the numbers. King George V and Queen Mary had five sons and one daughter. The eldest son, Edward VIII, abdicated in 1936 and was succeeded by his brother, Albert, the Duke of York, who reigned as George VI.
King George VI and Queen Elizabeth had two daughters, Elizabeth, the heiress presumptive, and Margaret. Shortly before Elizabeth gave birth to her first child, Charles, in November 1948, her father issued a Letters Patent that gave the HRH and title Prince or Princess to Elizabeth's children. If this had not been one, Charles would have been styled as the Earl of Merioneth and Anne as the Lady Anne Mountbatten, bearing the courtesy titles as children of a duke. In the United Kingdom, children take their father's rank, unless their mother has a higher rank (Peeress of the realm or Sovereign.)
Princess Margaret married in 1960 to Antony Armstrong-Jones, who was created Earl Snowdon and Viscount Linley shortly before Margaret gave birth to their first child, David, who is styled as Viscount Linley. Neither Lord Linley nor his younger sister, Lady Sarah Chatto, have never carried out official engagements, again because they are children of a princess, and their rank comes from their father.
George V's two other surviving sons, Henry (Duke of Gloucester) and George (Duke of Kent) established their own families. The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester were the parents of two sons: Prince William and Prince Richard. Prince William was the heir to his father's dukedom and was expected to undertake official duties, while his younger brother, Prince Richard, would be able to have a career and a largely private life.
A graduate of Cambridge - and post-graduate work at Stanford University, Prince William joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, serving in Lagos, Nigeria, and Tokyo, Japan. After his father fell ill, in 1970, Prince William resigned from his diplomatic post and returned to England to become a full time royal and manage the family home, Barnwell Manor. He also served several times as a Counsellor of State. His death at age 30 in a plane crash ended Prince Richard's private life. Richard had intended to practice architecture full time, but his career plans were put aside when William died. Only six weeks before William's death, he was the best man at Richard's wedding to Danish-born Birgitte van Deurs.
Richard succeeded his father as Duke of Gloucester on June 10, 1974. He and his wife, Birgitte, are well-respected, full time working royals. They have three children, Alexander, the Earl of Ulster, Lady Davina Lewis, and Lady Rose Gilman, and six grandchildren. Lord Ulster will succeed his father as the 3rd Duke of Gloucester, but he will be styled as Your Grace, and not Your Royal Highness.
The late Prince George, Duke of Kent, and his wife, Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark, were the parents of three children: Edward (who succeeded his father in 1942), Alexandra and Michael. Prince Michael was in the same position as his first cousin, Prince Richard: younger sons who were expected to have their own careers and carry out few official duties. Prince Michael and his wife appear at most state occasions, but carry out few engagements on behalf of the Queen. Their patronages and other engagements are not included in the Court Circular. Their two children, Lord Frederick and Lady Gabriella, are styled as younger children of a duke.
The Duke and Duchess of Kent, both of whom are now in their 80s, and the Duke of Kent's younger sister, Princess Alexandra, who will celebrate her 80th birthday on December 25, continue to work as full-time royals. The Duke of Kent was recently in Canada and Princess Alexandra carried out several engagements in Washington, D.C., in early October.
Princess Alexandra only 17 years old when she became a "fully-fledged working member of the Royal Family when she visited the British Red Cross. Her early entrance into the life of a working royal came after Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation. There was a "distinct shortage" of royals to undertake royal duties. The Queen and Prince Philip were about to leave on a long tour of the Commonwealth. The Queen Mother was still "grieving" the death of her husband. This left the Princess Royal (Princess Mary, the only daughter of George V), the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, Princess Margaret and the Duchess of Kent.
The Princess Royal spent most of her time at Harewood House outside Leeds. She was the widowed in 1947, and her sons, George, the 7th Earl of Harewood, and the Hon. Gerald Lascelles were married with families of their own. As sons of a princess, they took their rank from their father, and neither Lord Harewood nor his younger brother undertook royal duties.
According to the press of the day, the only two royals who had "the charisma to be newsworthy" were Margaret and Marina, who decided in 1953 that it was time to prepare Alexandra to join the Firm. The young princess was familiar with royal duties. From the age of 11, she had accompanied her grandmother, Queen Mary, on several engagements. She began her royal carrier accompanying her mother on engagements, starting in the summer of 1953, culminating her first solo appearance in May 1954.
The Duke of Kent's three children, George, Earl of St. Andrews, Lady Helen Taylor, and Lord Nicholas Windsor are not royal and do not have royal duties. The Kent dukedom will cease to be a royal dukedom when George succeeds his father.
Alexandra's husband, the Hon. Angus Ogilvy, turned down an earldom, offered by the Queen before the marriage. He later regretted this decision because he felt it set a terrible precedent that led to Mark Phillip's decision to decline an earldom, offered by the Queen before his marriage to her only daughter, Princess Anne. The Hon. Sir Angus believed that all of the queen's grandchildren should have been titled.
James and Marina Ogilvy and Peter and Zara Phillips are commoners. Due to their royal connections, they are invited to state occasions, such as a Thanksgiving Service or a royal wedding. None will ever carry out royal duties as children of princesses do not have public roles as working royals. Women have equal rights to the throne, but the new succession law does not affect titles or the HRH.
More than anything else, attrition (through death) will bring down the size of the Royal Family. The Dukes of Kent, Gloucester, Princess Alexandra, and the Princess Royal will not be replaced as working royals by their children.
This leaves the Royal family down to the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (their children will not be working royals for at least two decades), Prince Harry, the Princess Royal, the Duke of York and the Earl and Countess of Wessex. Although the Earl of Wessex's children are technically HRH and Princess and Prince of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland due to the 1917 Letters Patent, they are styled and titled as children of an earl. Lady Louise Windsor and her younger brother, Viscount Severn are not expected to become working royals.
This brings us to Camilla Tominey's excellent article, "Queen in centre of the royal storm as the Prince of Wales and brother Andrew in royal conflict," which was published in today's Sunday Express.
The gist of the article is that the Duke of York continues to fight for an official role for his two daughters, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie of York. He and has written to his mother, the Queen, declaring that his two daughters - princesses of the blood royal -- will be completely sidelined when Charles becomes king. He feels that his daughters are "already being overshadowed by their first cousins, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince Harry.
[Memo to the Duke of York: the Duke of Cambridge is second in line to the throne, but I get where you are coming from.]
One can understand the Duke's frustrations. Beatrice and Eugenie are the only two adult princesses of the blood under thirty years old. Princess Anne is 66. Alexandra is 79.
According to Tominey, the Queen was "so stunned" by Andrew's letter that she gave to her private secretary, Sir Christopher Geidt, asking him to deal with it. Sir Christopher "raised the matter directly" with the Prince of Wales who wanted a Government official to tell his brother that "he will continue to play a formal role in the Royal family," but his daughters will not be included in the Family Firm.
This really isn't a new story, just another chapter in the lives of the York Princesses. They are the only two adult royals who do not have their own profiles on the official British monarchy site. Their charities are not included in the royal family's charity database, also on the website.
This discomfiture goes back to the Way Ahead Group. In March 1998, several British newspapers reported that the HRH might be further restricted to "those closest in line to the throne." One Palace official said that there would be no question of "forcing people, particularly the older generation, to give anything up. The issue will come down to Andrew's children. Should they keep what they have or should they fall in line with the new structure? It will be up to him to decide."
Him, of course, was Prince Andrew. It can be assumed that neither he nor his former wife, Sarah, were supportive of the proposal.
The Way Ahead group had also discussed a review of police protection of some members of the royal family. It was understood that the Duke of Edinburgh (and the Queen Mother) spoke out against some of the ideas, including the loss of the HRH and the title for the York girls, who were young children at the time.
But it was also implied at the time that neither princess would have a role as a working role when they reached adulthood.
A year later, in June 1999, the Sunday Times reported that Buckingham Palace wanted the two princesses to renounce their title when they became of age. A source close to the Duke of York told the Times: "He thinks it is outrageous. He blames the Queen's advisers."
The plan was for Beatrice and Eugenie to relinquish their royal titles and be styled as daughters of a duke: Lady Beatrice and Lady Eugenie.
It was eventually decided that to remove the HRH and title Princess from Beatrice and Eugenie would be seen as "cruel." Majesty Magazine's Joe Little told The Scotsman in 2006 that "Beatrice is very aware of her background. Her father has always been particularly conscious of his Royal Surroundings and he will have made sure that his daughters are aware of their duties as granddaughters of the monarch."
I believe that if the Duke and Duchess of York had a happy, scandal-free marriage and lifestyle, their two daughters would be working royals. But the sins of the parents have certainly visited their children.
In September 2005, Beatrice was featured on the cover of Tatler magazine. She told Geordie Greig: "I wouldn't trade my life for anyone else's. I know I'm very lucky. I love being who I am and feel very happy with that."
In 2008, The Telegraph reported that the annual cost of police protection for the princesses was £500,000. It was noted in the article that Princess Anne's children did not have security -- as children of a princess, they were not entitled to police protection. Prince Andrew was described as wanting to "preserve his daughters' status." It is understood that as early as 2005, Scotland Yard wanted to remove the princesses' protection, solely due to the costs, but the Duke of York had vetoed the plan. He was concerned that in the age of terrorism, his daughters should have police protection.
Retired chief Superintendent Dai Davis said: "Given the pressure on security and policing budgets, I believe it is a gross abuse of taxpayers' money for Beatrice and Eugenie to receive this level of protection."
It is understood that Scotland Yard had completed a risk assessment, and concluded that the two princesses were in no greater danger than Lord Frederick and Lady Gabriella Windsor, the children of Prince and Princess Michael of Kent. Prince Michael's children have never had police protection.
A few months later, Richard Eden, then a correspondent for the Telegraph, reported that the two Princess would take on more charity work. One courtier stated: "Because of their HRH titles and their security costs, there is a feeling in some circles that the Princesses have a 'debt' to pay."
An aide to the Princesses told Eden: "They have grown up to respect their heritage and acknowledge their privileged upbringing. They will do their bit for the Royal Family, but they want to make their mark on life first - do well at university, pursue a successful career and be independent."
It was also said that the Prince of Wales would be "involved in talks over his nieces' roles." He remained supportive of a 'scaled down' royal family, but other courtiers believed that there remained a need for other young members of the royal family to carry out official duties.
As we have seen, the Prince of Wales has remained adamant in the decision to not include Beatrice and Eugenie in official duties. The Duke of York continues to lobby on behalf of his daughters. "I could make use of them because they would take some of the burdens off me."
In 2012, he was rebuffed when he asked if Beatrice could accompany him on an official trip to India. The Palace also acknowledged that the Princesses would need to get jobs, but would also be required to attend the state and official events, such as the Trooping the Colour.
Both Princesses have added patronages to their portfolios of charities and other organizations. Visits to these organizations are not considered official, and, thus, are not listed in the Court Circular. In January 2013, however, two Princesses traveled to Berlin and Hannover for official engagements. "They were asked by No 10 to do it to support the Great Britain campaign, and were delighted to accept," said a Buckingham Palace spokesman. The Duke of York paid for the standard economy airfare to Germany. A year earlier, Princess Beatrice accompanied Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh to York Minster for the annual Maundy Thursday Service.
Earlier this year, Beatrice ended an eight-year relationship with the very wealthy American-born Dave Clark, currently the senior adviser to Uber's CEO. He is based in New York. For nearly a decade, he was the head of Astronaut Relations for Virgin Galactic. In other words, he could afford the lavish holidays that he took with Beatrice.
Since 2015, Princess Eugenie has been an associate director at the Houser & Wirth art gallery in London. Previously, she had worked for Paddle8, on online auction firm in New York City.
Since the two princesses have shared an apartment in St. James's Palace. After Eugenie's graduation from the University of Newcastle, the Duke of York began to pay rent on the apartment. It is understood that he also picks up the tab for the princesses' security as Scotland Yard stopped providing protection several years ago. Scotland Yard will not confirm when this decision was made.
Princess Eugenie is expected to announce her engagement to Jack Brooksbank later this year. It has not been officially confirmed that she will be moving into Ivy Cottage on the Kensington Palace estate, although several British newspapers reported the story in August.
The Princess acquired her first patronage, the RNOH Redevelopment Appeal, in 2012. She -- and her sister -- have been adding more patronages and charities. Earlier this month, Princess Eugenie joined Prime Minister Theresa May at Westminster Abbey to commemorate the life of anti-slavery William Wiburforce. She also released a brief video supporting the Salvation Army's program to raise awareness about modern slavery and human trafficking.
By all accounts, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie are lovely young women, well-educated, and acquit themselves well when they take part in duties, official or otherwise. It is a shame that they cannot be a part of the royal rota, even part-time, with official duties. Princess Alexandra has a large portfolio, and it would be nice if some of her charities and patronages could be taken over by Beatrice and Eugenie. It might also be a good idea for the two princesses to meet and talk with Sir Christopher Geidt and other palace officials -- and perhaps, the Prince of Wales, as well, about how they can support the monarchy, even in an unofficial capacity.
Even if their parents have been branded as liabilities and have caused numerous offenses, the York girls should not be branded with their parents' sins. It is well known that the Queen is fond of her York granddaughters, and I doubt she enjoys their media discomfiture. It would not be difficult to advise and assist the princesses, especially Beatrice, in finding new opportunities. This has been a difficult year for the princess, as she moves further away from the emotional breakup from Dave Clark.
It might be in the best interests of all to meet halfway. No real official roles for the princesses, but allow them and encourage them to take on more patronages and charity work. They have a lot to offer and let's face it, Princesses are always more popular than Princes. Celebrate that fact! Let these young women be the Princesses they were born to be.