Wednesday, January 24, 2018

No real precedent for a peerage

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I have lost count of the number of questions, tweets, and comments about the possibility that Jack Christopher Stamp Brooksbank will receive a peerage when he marries Princess Eugenie of York later this year.

He will not receive a peerage.  There is no real precedent for Mr. Brooksbank to receive a peerage on his wedding day.

The only male spouse to receive a peerage on his marriage to a British princess was Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten (né HRH Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark.)  George VI created Philip Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth, and Baron Greenwich with the style of Royal Highness on November 19, 1947, one day before Philip married Princess Elizabeth, the heiress presumptive to the British throne.

The next British princess to marry was Princess Margaret, who wed Mr. Antony Armstrong-Jones on May 6, 1960.   Tony entered Westminster Abbey as a Mister ... and came out of the Abbey as a Mister.  He did not receive a peerage when he married Princess Margaret.   The princess did not use her husband's surname.  She remained styled as HRH The Princess Margaret and not HRH The Princess Margaret, Mrs. Armstrong-Jones.

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It was not until October 3, 1961that Antony Armstrong-Jones was created Earl of Snowdon and Viscount Linley of Nymans.  One of the reasons that he chose to accept the peerage was "for the sake of his son," according to Anne de Courcy, the author of Snowdon, a biography of the late earl.  Although his child was unlikely to succeed to the throne, the new earl believed that "if it were a boy it was then close in line to the throne -- and would it have done to have a former Mr. Jones as king?"

Princess Margaret gave birth to a son, David (named for the Queen Mother's favorite brother, the Hon. David Bowes-Lyon, who had died a few months earlier), who was styled as Viscount Linley.   The Princess's title also changed: HRH The Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon.

Some years later, Princess Margaret told biographer Christopher Warwick that she had chosen to not use her married name as a part of her title because "I didn't want people to think I was a snob, taking a double-barrelled name."

After the Queen's first cousin, HRH Princess Alexandra married the Hon. Angus Ogilvy, younger son of the Earl of Airlie in April 1963, the Queen approached Alexandra and Angus with the offer of a peerage.   With a bit of humor, the Evening Standard offered Lord Ben Nevis or Count Killiecrankie as possible peerages for Angus, the son of a Scots peer.

Alexandra and Angus were adamant.  No peerage.  "I don't see why I should get a peerage just because I've married a Princess," the Hon. Angus Ogilvy was quoted in a profile of Royal Consorts by Anthony Holden in the Sunday Express (August 7, 1983.)

One can only assume how Alexandra's mother, Princess Marina, reacted to the decision to decline a peerage.  She had "contemplated" Angus' position after his marriage to her daughter.  Would he receive a dukedom like her cousin Prince Philip or an earldom that had been bestowed on Princess Margaret's husband?   If declining a peerage was bad enough, imagine Marina's reaction to Alexandra's decision to be styled as HRH Princess Alexandra, the Hon. Mrs. Ogilvy.   Alexandra was the first to use Mrs. as a part of her title.  Princess Anne was known as HRH The Princess Anne, Mrs. Mark Phillips until she was created, Princess Royal.

The Queen bestowed the KCVO (Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order) on Angus on December 31, 1988.  His style changed to the Hon. Sir Angus Ogilvy, KCVO, and Princess Alexandra's style became HRH Princess Alexandra, the Hon. Lady Ogilvy.

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In a pre-wedding interview in November 1973, Mark Phillips stated that he was not offered a peerage. There had been numerous press reports that he would receive an earldom.  

Princess Anne, who was named Princess Royal in 1988, expected that her children would need to find their own way in the world and their careers could be hindered by a peerage or a courtesy title.  [In fairness, Princess Margaret's son, David, parlayed his courtesy title into a successful design career.]

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In a 1988 profile by the Daily Express' Compton Miller, Angus Ogilvy acknowledged that he regretted his decision to decline the offer of a peerage.

Angus told a friend: "I should have accepted the Queen's offer of a peerage.  My not doing so created an unfortunate precedent which Mark Phillips used when he married Princess Anne 10 years later.

"It's clearly absurd that the Queen's eldest grandchildren, Peter and Zara Phillips, have no title, while, for instance, the Duke of York's children will have."

The Duke of York has two daughters, HRH Princess Beatrice, and HRH Princess Eugenie.  His children are royal because of George V's 1917 Letters Patent.  Children of the Sovereign and grandchildren of the Sovereign in the MALE line are HRH and Princes and Princesses of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.  The Letters Patent included the HRH and the title Prince for the eldest son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales.  Several months before the Duchess of Cambridge gave birth to Prince the Queen issued a new Letters Patent that gave the HRH and the title Prince or Princess to all of the children of the Duke of Cambridge.

This Letters Patent was in response to the new Succession law allowing for the eldest child, regardless of sex, as the heir apparent.  If the Duke and Duchess's first child had been a girl, she would have been styled as the daughter of a Duke.  Lady Charlotte Windsor and her younger brother, Prince George would have had the royal title.

Digressing here.  Back to Princess Eugenie.    She is not going to renounce her own title and Jack Brooksbank will not be given a peerage.   She does not have to use his surname as a part of her title.  She can remain HRH Princess Eugenie without adding Mrs. Brooksbank.

The York Princesses do not have official royal duties.  They have their own charities and patronages, but their engagements are not included in the Court Circular or in the charity database on the British Monarchy's official website.  Beatrice and Eugenie are the only two adult royals who do not have their own profiles on the website.  They are included in their father's profile.

The Duke of York recently offered the final word on titles: “It is a complete fabrication to suggest I have asked for any future husbands of the Princesses to have titles."

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Michelle said...

Speaking of titles, I'm wondering about the technical title of the Countess of Wessex. I know that just as Catherine is also Princess William, Sophie would be Princess Edward, if I understand correctly. However, as the child of the Sovereign, Edward is THE Prince Edward. Does the "The" carry over to Sophie, making her The Princess Edward, or is the "the" only used for Edward as the child of the Sovereign?

Also, it has been heavily suggested for quite awhile that when Charles becomes king, he wants a slimmed down monarchy. If he wanted to restrict who gets the HRH Prince(ss), would he simply issue Letters Patent? If he wanted to, could he take away the HRH Princess enjoyed by Beatrice & Eugenie? I'm just wondering if he'd want the children of any subsequent Cambridge princes to have the HRH Prince(ss) given they would be the equivalent of the York princesses and not part of the monarchy in the working sense. I also wonder if the fact that they've made it so Charlotte & other princesses retain their place in the order of succession means they would at some point make it so their children would have titles the way the sons' kids do. That would seem more equal. However, it wouldn't mesh well with Charles' vision of a smaller monarchy.

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

yes, Sophie would be styled as HRH The Princess Edward if her husband had not been created the earl of Wessex. Yes, Charles, when king, can issue a Letters Patent that will supersede the 1917 Letters Patent. However, the York princesses are unlikely to lose their titles. He could issue a letters patent that gives the HRH and royal title to the children of the sovereign and the children of the heir apparent (and if needed) the children of the eldest child of the heir apparent. One does not have to be titled to be in the line of succession. Charlotte will not pass her rank to her children.

Matthew Plooster said...

For the Queen to consider giving Brooksbank a title, she would likely consult several people (courtiers), as well as the Prince of Wales as he'll inherit the decision, and it wouldn't bode well with his vision of a slimmed-down monarchy. While, as you note, Charles could issue new letters patent to reflect this vision, he could simply make a request, similar to that of George V with HH Princess Maud, asking her to simply use the style Her Ladyship the Countess of Southesk.

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

Matthew, I do not think that would happen. Maud was very shy and lived out of the limelight. The same will not be said for Eugenie, who will have public role - with charities, etc., but not official. It was Maud's idea. Yet, she served as one of the Counsellors

David Lewis said...

I agree it’s unlikely but I’m conscious that a precedent was set when Angus Ogilvy was offered a peerage but he himself turned it down.
The marriage of Princess Alexandra to a commoner appears to be the only occasion of a granddaughter of a monarch whose father wasn’t a monarch before Princess Eugenie’s marriage, certainly right back to granddaughters of George.
I’m also conscious that times have changed. Princess Anne’s children bear no titles, Prince Edwards son , the grandson of a monarch in the male line , is only styled as Lord Seven instead of a Prince like Prince Michael of Kent.
I guess no one can be 100% certain, we will have to wait and see.

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

Princess Patricia chose to be styled as the daughter of a duke when she married the Hon. Alexander Ramsay, son of an earl. He was not given a title. Tony was the odd man out .. but he waited until Margaret was nearly in labor