Sunday, October 23, 2016

What to do about the York princesses


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 of 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 of 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 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 the HRH and title Princess from Beatrice and Eugenie would been 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."

The newly married Earl and Countess of Wessex had already agreed that their children would not have royal titles.  

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 continue to lobby on behalf of his daughters. "I could make use of them because they would take some of the burden of 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 associated 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 half way.  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.




8 comments:

Brent said...

As always...full of details and facts. An excellent article Marlene!

www.maltagenealogy.com said...

I am sure, the York Princesses will be needed in the reign of King Charles III.. Only so many charities can be handled by the future King and his descendants and their spouses in the next twenty years..

Though, I find it difficult to understand why the Wessex children are not of the same rank of Prince's even though they are entitled to it.

One thing that came out of your interesting article was the Husband of HRH, Princess Alexandra failure to accept an Earldom, which inturn, same with Princess Anne's first husband.

I find it difficult to find under the Glorious reign of one of the longest reigning Monarchs in Britain to see her two eldest children children are not styled with courtesy titles of Viscount for Peter and Lady for his sister.

I don't see the harm and the people really don't mind that they are ennobled as such, as it doesn't give them any strings to the privy purse as such.

Lane Kent said...

Well said. I have been saying this for years to anyone who will listen. Does Charles honestly think William, Kate and Harry can do it all as the older 2 generations die out? No they can't. The Princesses don't need to be full time royals, but they will be useful as part time royals.

It is going to be 2 or 3 decades before George and Charlotte will be expected to do anything.

As you rightly say, Beatrice and Eugenie are the only blood royal Princesses of their generation. As you also rightly say, Princesses are more interesting than Princes.

Princess Beatrice's importance is particularly not been recognised for a long time now. She is currently 7th in line to the throne (having started at 5th). If the Cambridges have no more children, and Harry has none (or 1 or 2 at most), with the Queen, Charles and Andrew's death, Princess Beatrice could rise back up the list or stay where she is for some time.

It is quite feasible that Princess Beatrice could remain in the top 10 of the line of succession for the next 25 years.

In these perilous times anything could happen to one or all of the Cambridge family (especially as they travel together on planes etc), and you have Beatrice and her descendants right behind Harry (as there is only Andrew between them now).

Queen Victoria was the daughter of the 4th son. So it is not impossible to imagine that Beatrice or her descendants will remain high in the line of succession for many years.

If Prince Charles carries on freezing out his nieces, then he will have to make the same considerations for Harry's children and set a precedent for Charlotte's children. He will then run the risk of cutting the monarchy's nose off to spite its face. The monarchy needed cutting down in 1917 but these days royals are having less children.

Finally I would just liKe to say as a British citizen I would rather pay £500,000 to protect these Princesses than the annual £16 million to protect the wealthy Tony Blair and all his empty houses. But these is rarely focused on by the tabloids - who were jumping up and down at the cost of protecting these Princesses.

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

At some point, George will stop traveling with his father (most likely when William is the heir apparent). I also think there will be less focus on day to day duties and more focus on issues. The York Princesses have been tainted by their parents, and Beatrice has not had a good press in several years. All those vacations have not helped, but she is damned if she does and damned if she doesn't. She is not a working royal, and she had a wealthy boyfriend, who liked to spend time in the sun. If Harry marries and has children during the reign of his grandmother, his children will not be royal. It is also possible that if he marries during the reign of his father, his children might not be royal - it is possible that Charles will issue a new LP that further restricts the HRH and title of Prince or Princess. The Cambridges have already shown that they are not interested in taking on more patronages, etc. I expect a great many of the Kents and Gloucesters' charities and patronages will not be inherited by other royals ... but it is possible that their children could pick up some of those charities- and do the job, but it will be a different situation.

Lane Kent said...

I agree with all of your post. Particularly re Beatrice. Her job at Sony went South after her details were hacked and 18 foreign trips in less than a year does not help her cause - whoever paid for them.

The tabloids always like to have the good Prince/bad Royal setup. To name but a few, Princess Michael of Kent, Prince Edward, even Harry for a short time before the Princesses came of age.

Now the press feed on the good Wales/Cambridges vs the bad Yorks. There is always a camera lense to catch every gaff. Charity engagements are branded as parties or clubbing.

Princess Beatrice has not helped herself. I do wonder how much her dyslexia impacts her employment prospects? This is something we are unlikely to ever know though. She did pass her formal education exams and she got a degree - although she was held back a year in school to achieve this.

Princess Eugenie will naturally continue to fall further into the background. But all the while George and Charlotte are children, there could be a place for Beatrice. But I doubt Charles will allow it. As Charles' reign is likely to be relatively short, one wonders what William's thoughts will be? The tabloids have plenty to say about his thoughts regarding his York cousins - although I pay little attention to these.

I wonder who will issue the next Letters Patent regarding titles? If Harry has children in the Queen's lifetime will the Queen confer Royal status on them? Or if and when Charles becomes King will he restrict the HRH Prince(ss) further to just the children of the sovereign and those of the Prince of Wales?

It will be interesting to see what happens over the next 10 years and especially what happens to Princess Beatrice.

I must confess that I have a soft spot for Prince Harry and Princess Beatrice. Despite his playboy lifestyle Prince Harry does a lot of good. Princess Beatrice is charming and by all accounts has always had a strong sense for duty. Sadly she may not reach her full potential due to the sins of her parents

Matthew Plooster said...

Oh my, so many things here. There has always been a great deal of effort into the balance of official patronages, ensuring each major facet of British life and culture is represented by the monarchy. Let's say that the Kents and Cloucesters' charities aren't picked up by other royals - therein might be an imbalance. But perhaps they'll be picked up by their children, who may be equally as benevolent and dedicated as Lady Sarah Chatto has been since her mother passed and she picked up the torch as best she could. But from an organizational (NPO) point of view…losing the HRH of a patron can be a costly loss to the charity. As numerous charities by the Kents and Gloucesters are long-term (and some multi-generational), it's unfortunate that a community-serving charity would get the brunt end of the deal.

As far as the official/unofficial role goes, I'm sure an equilibrium could be met. The palace noting that the princesses need jobs is interesting, especially given their areas of expertise. Take Princess Eugenie as an example: fine art. She completed an internship with the Royal Collection prior to her time in New York. Could she not channel that expertise into some sort of official role within the Royal Collection? It'd give her an official function of a sort, which could lead to a compromise to part-time official duties in support of the monarch.

The Way Ahead Group has been called by some the best PR case study ever, noting how the Royal Family had miraculously recovered from the days of scandal. A lot of changes the monarchy has made have been wisely in tune with the nation's changing demographic. And your observation of a shift from day to day duties to a focus on issues is already happening. They're so ahead on so much. Yet…behind when it comes to their "staffing," so to speak. With the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge earning a reputation for being lazy royals (especially in comparison to the Princess Royal and the Duke of Edinburgh) - the passing out of shamrocks on St. Patrick's Day comes to mind as a great example - why not utilize resources at the monarchy's disposal? I completely understand the Duke and Duchess wanting to focus on their young family. (Princess Beatrix said those years pre-accession where she was a wife and mother were among her happiest and fulfilling.) But just because one has small children to focus on doesn't mean the country and societal/cultural needs come to a halt. Many opportunities for the York princesses to fill in the gaps.

Yes? No?

And you keenly noted that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have no desire to take on new patronages. Their philosophy is that they would like to have a more qualitative approach to their public life rather than a quantitative. (Of course, I'd like to have a chat with them about what symbolic leadership really is and how it is used.) With this being the case, what do you predict will be happening in the future as senior and other royals begin to retire/pass?

dxt said...

Maybe one or both princesses should retire to a nunnery, in Italy, perhaps.

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

What a silly thing to say. The Princesses are not Catholic.