Monday, March 12, 2012

So what is a princess supposed to do?

Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie of York are two women in a royal quandary.  They are princesses of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland because they are grandchildren of the sovereign in the male line.   But they are offered few opportunities to be a Princess of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

In other words, the two young women are members of the Royal Family on paper.  They get invited to major royal events such as their grandmother's birthday or their first cousin's wedding, but not much else.

Princess Beatrice, who graduated from Goldsmith College last September, has talked  about  wanting to get a job. She did well at school, and now she has the degree.   Working in the private sector might bring too much attention to  her employer.

According to one news report (not verified), Princess Beatrice was recently offered a job as a junior fashion assistant at JoSoBlu Accesories.  The offer came from  designer Joelle Seksum.
"We understand that like many recent graduates you have been unable to find a job since leaving university last year.  “I’m delighted to tell you that we have an opening for a junior fashion assistant at our accessory label JoSoblu and we would like to offer you the position. We have been impressed with your personal fashion style, particularly the beautiful Philip Treacy hat you wore at your cousin Prince William’s wedding last year, and we believe you would be a real asset to our young team.

The job is entry level, pays about $23,000 a year.  The position would require "assisting the designer, sourcing materials and attending product launches."  Other tasks would include filing, typing and making the tea.

The benefits would include five weeks of paid vacation.  (The US is the only Western nation that does not have legislated vacation time.)

It is unlikely that Beatrice will accept this position.  It is rather tacky for the company to make the offer public.  The designer would also be capitalizing on Beatrice's royal title.  A feather in their cap!  A princess whose career is not being a princess will be subjected to press scrutiny, and it will be difficult for a princess to submerge herself in a job, where everyone else will be looking at her .. and perhaps a few dishing gossip to the tabloid media.

But this is not the sort of job that Beatrice needs.   More recently, the Daily Mail, a tabloid newspaper not known for getting their facts right, reported that Beatrice "is keen to get involved with the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations" and wants to accompany her father, the Duke of York, to India.

The Duke of York will be in India as a part of the official celebration of Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee.

One "source" told the Mail: "Beatrice would like to play her part in marking her grandmother's milestone.  She has a lot to offer the Royal Family, but there is a feeling the attention is being focused on William, Harry and Kate as far as the young Royals are concerned."

Well, yes, the focus should be on William and Catherine and Harry.   The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry are second and third in line to the throne.  Their father is the Prince of Wales.     Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie are the daughters of the Duke of York, fourth in line to the throne

The 23-year-old Princess had a prominent role in a recent BBC documentary, Diamond Queen, but she has not been  given an official role in the Jubilee celebrations.

It has been reported since the late 1990s  that the York princesses will not be added to the royal duties’ list, despite the fact that several active members of the royal family, the Duke of Kent and his younger sister, Princess Alexandra, are now in their seventies.  The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester are in their late sixties.  They will not be replaced by their children, who are not royal.  The Kents and the Gloucesters have their assignments for the Jubilee duties.

Princess Anne is 60.  The Duke of York is a decade younger.  The Earl of Wessex celebrates his 50th birthday in 2014.

With so many older members of the Royal family, it seems unthinkable to me that the royal duties will be largely confined to King Charles III and his family.  There are a lot of charities and associations that will continue to need royal patronage, and a smaller number will not be able to carry the heavy burden.

What is the point of being a princess, if there are no responsibilities to go with the title?   On the rare occasion, Prince and Princess Michael of Kent are asked to represent the Queen, but the majority of their duties come from their own charities and organizations.  They also appear at State functions, including State dinners.

It is unlikely that Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie will ever be asked to take part in a State dinner.

Although it has never been confirmed, there were reports, in the late 1990s, that Princess Beatrice and Eugenie would lose their titles (perhaps when they got married) and be styled as daughters of a duke, as Lady Beatrice and Lady Eugenie Mountbatten.   (A change of titles would make job looking a bit easier, and it would more difficult for a firm to capitalize on the royal titles.) It now seems unlikely that the princesses will be demoted to Lady status.

In another sense, the two princesses are seen as 'damaged goods' through no fault of their own.  They are scarred because of their mother's behavior.  Sarah, Duchess of York's financial problems, insecurity issues, and the basic inability to live  as a former member of the royal family, has hurt the princesses' status within the family.  This is not their fault.  The two princesses do need to love and support their mother, but they have to understand that their life with their mother is outside the spectrum of the royal family.

More important, Sarah, Duchess of York, has to understand that she is not a member of the royal family.  She ceased to be a member when her divorce became absolute.

The Duke of York wants his daughters to take on royal duties. It might be a good idea for Beatrice to accompany her father to India.  She could do a few things with him, and also add a few things, such as visiting a charity or other organizations that work with the disadvantaged in India.

Last week, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh went to the theater, and were accompanied by Peter and Autumn Phillips.  The Duchess of Cambridge accompanied the Queen on a trip to Fortnam & Mason (with the Duchess of Cornwall), and to Leicester for the Jubilee kickoff.   Have the York princesses ever accompanied their grandmother to the theater, a movie or even on a semi-official engagement?  (Walking to church at Christmas does not count.)

The princesses continue to be marginalized by their own family.  They will continue appearing at the official events (Trooping the Colour)  with other members of the Royal family.  But will Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie have an opportunity to show their royal mettle with any official Jubilee engagements?  They do not have been sent overseas.  There are plenty of places in the UK where they can be sent to represent the Queen.  It is very difficult to sit on the sidelines when your grandmother's first cousins are carrying out official engagements, and you are not, even though you are a princess.

It is sufficed to say that if the Duke and Duchess of York were still married, there would no question that the two princesses would be included in carrying out engagements.

It was announced earlier today that Princess Beatrice will take part in the National Lottery Olympic Park Run.  The Princess will officially start the race on March 31, and will present the awards to the winners.

"The Olympic Park Run is a fantastic way of celebrating the role of the many National Lottery players who have contributed to London 2012 and its lasting legacy.”

"I am going to be joined by a group of friends, some of whom took part alongside me in the London marathon."

Embed from Getty Images


Michelle said...

my personal opinion is that anyone with the title prince or princess, especially if they have the HRH, should be given all of the both responsibilities and privileges that come along with that.

the REAL question in my mind is this: WHO should be given those things, particularly the HRH in the first place?

if i remember correctly, in several other countries even male-line grandchildren of a sovereign do not get the HRH.

for example, the Danish queen has 2 sons - the Crown Prince's 4 children are HRH princes/princesses. the younger son, although an HRH himself, has 4 children who are a princess and princes, but do NOT have the HRH and are "His/Her Highness."

to do otherwise seems unfair, especially as they are born into this and do not choose it. if you're going to call them HRH Princess Beatrice/Eugenie, give them all the protection & privileges that come along... and allow them the responsibility of royal duties, especially in this most notable year! they must also be slightly hurt simply because they want to help their grandmother celebrate and the other grandchildren are given almost exclusive priority.

William & Harry will always come first in terms of the monarchy... but it's the royal FAMILY, and Beatrice & Eugenie are part of that family. surely there's room enough for everyone & engagements enough to go around!

Michelle said...

also, an addition to my previous comment:

a even BIGGER example of grandchildren of a monarch's titling is in the Norwegian royal family...

...the Crown Prince has 2 children (aside from his stepson). the first, the equivalent of Prince William, is Princess who is given the HRH.

however, his son (after his sister since birth order is the rule rather than gender) is Prince with only the style His Highness... he is the equivalent of Prince Harry and only given the HH.

John said...

This is amazing, honestly this exact same subject came into my mind today out of nowhere. Weird.
I agree with every word in this article!

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

Michelle, There is no such thing in Norwegian as HH .. Sverre is in the same position as Martha Louise and the King's two sisters. The three women lost their HRH (he was never given it.) Just plain Prince or Princess. The British limit the HRH to the children of the sovereign and the grandchildren of the sovereign in the male line ... in Denmark, the title can go on for generations.

Michelle said...

The Norwegian royal family's official website has Prince Sverre Magnus as "HH Prince Sverre Magnus" on the part dedicated to the Crown Prince couple. Why is this on their monarchy's official website if it is not so? Either you are somehow mistaken or the person running their website didn't do a very good job. Perhaps you can clear this up for me?

And I know about the Danes, I was just pointing out for those who may not realize and are reading the post. I simply meant to show that in other countries, being the grandchild of a monarch doesn't always mean having the HRH so perhaps Britain could reconsider, that's all.

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...


the HIghness is used outside of the country ... look at site in Norwegian

You will see the equivalent of HRH for the Crown Prince and Crown PRincess and Ingrid, but nothing for Sverre, Martha Louise and the two aunts. In Norway, it is just Prince Sverre. This was also announced at the time of the birth. It is more like an honorific ... but not a style like HRH. The HH is used abroad. Sverre is also not a member of the Royal House. The only members of the Royal House are the KIng and Queen, Haakon, MM and INgrid Alexandra. Sverre Magnus, Martha Louise, Ragnhild Alexandra and Astrid are members of the Royal family, the spouses and Martha's children. The HRH is limited to those who have a constitutional role. Sverre Magnus will never have official duties. He will have to find a career.

Michelle said...

as the son of the king when the crown prince is king, why wouldn't he do anything then?

and thanks for explaining... i was quite confused!

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

Norway is not the UK, Norway is a small country - and the royals do not carry out the same number of engagements as the British. Martha Louise does not carry out official engagements anymore. Nor does she appear on the balcony on the National Day. Succession to the Norwegian throne is based on relationship. When the law changed to allow for the inheritance of the first born, Martha Louise, the elder, was put behind her brother (as the law did not apply to her)

one part of the Norwegian succession law : The right of succession shall not, however, belong to any person who is not born in the direct line of descent from the last reigning Queen or King or a sister or brother thereof, or is herself or himself a sister or brother thereof. When Ingrid Alexndra comes to the throne, Martha Louise and her line cease to be dynasts. Sverre and his line will drop off when Ingrid Alexandra's child comes to the throne.

emily said...

I'm a little surprised that no provision has been made for Beatrice to inherit her father's title. While Andrew could theoretically marry again and father a son, it seems unlikely.

I also wonder if the Wessex children will carry out royal roles when they are older. They're of the male line and would likely fall under the same "spare royal" classification as the York daughters, but carry less of their parents' baggage. :S

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

Royal Peerages do not descend to females. The Letters Patent provides for the succession of Andrew's male heirs. If he does not remarry and have a son, the title will revert to the Crown upon his death.

Although the Wessex children are technically royal, they are styled as children of an earl. They will not ever royal duties.