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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Royal Title Complexities

This post is for people who are not familiar with the European royal titles, its complexities and when to use it. 

One time I read an article in Yahoo News and appalled to find out that the writer seemed not familiar with the treatment of European royal titles when she called Pierre Casiraghi, the youngest son of Princess Caroline of Monaco, a Prince. This reference was repeated several times elsewhere in the internet which prompted me to write this post that somehow explains the subtleties of royal titles.
Pierre Casiraghi, youngest son of Princess Caroline of Monaco, should never be called Prince Pierre because his father was not a Prince nor a titled aristocrat. Though Pierre is currently third in line of succession to the Monegasque throne, he draws his status not from his mother but from his father as what European royal tradition dictates.

In European royalty, children always acquired their status from the house of their father and not from their mother. Unless their father is a Prince, none of them will automatically known as Prince or Princess even if their mother is a Princess unless that mother is a future monarch and their father had given the title of royal highness.

For example:

Princess Anne, the Princess Royal, only daughter of Queen Elizabeth II, married a non aristocrat commoner, Mark Phillips, in 1973, the Queen attempted to make him a nobleman by offering an Earldom but he refused and preferred to remain a commoner thus their children are known only as Mr. Peter Phillips and Miss Zara Phillips.

The Queen's sister, the late Princess Margaret, also married a commoner in 1960, Anthony Armstrong-Jones, but he accepted the Queen's offer of an Earldom making him a titled nobleman, the Earl of Snowdon, and their children, David and Sarah, earned the courtesy titles normally assigned to children of noble blood, Lord and Lady. David and Sarah did not acquire their status from their mother but from their father. For now, David is assuming the second title of his father, Viscount Linley, while the Earl of Snowdon is still alive.

Victoria, the Crown Princess of Sweden, married a non-aristocrat commoner, Daniel Westling, in 2010, and because she is a future monarch of Sweden her husband (as a future consort) had given a title of a Prince upon their marriage making their daughter, Estelle, a Princess. If Victoria is not a future monarch it is unlikely that her husband would be given such privilege and Estelle would never become a Princess.

In Britain, a female royal, even if she is a future monarch, would not automatically guarantee that her children would enjoy the privilege of being members of the British royal family. In 1947, the then Princess Elizabeth, married Prince Philip but at the time of their wedding, Philip had already renounced his Greek royal title and status thus becoming a commoner with no title of his own, he was only made a nobleman by his father-in-law the night before the wedding granting 3 noble titles, Duke of Edinburgh, Earl Marrioneth and Baron Renfrew. But at that time he was no longer a Prince only a nobleman.

Afraid that his grandchildren would become commoners before Elizabeth could ascend the throne, King George VI had given Philip a courtesy title of His Royal Highness and the King also specified that all children born to the couple would be known as Prince and Princess. But despite this special privilege, the children did not belong to the House of Windsor at that time but to the House of Edinburgh taken from Philip's noble house. It was only in 1952 upon their mother ascension to the throne that they belonged to the House of Windsor and Prince Philip became a Prince of the United Kingdom.

Princess Caroline of Monaco is no exemption. In 1983, she married for the second time to Stefano Casiraghi, a commoner Italian industrialist with no noble title of his own, he was not made a Prince too, thus their three children, Andrea, Charlotte and Pierre, remained commoners. Though they are in line  of succession to the Monegasque throne (as Peter and Zara in the throne of the United Kingdom), their status came from the family of their father. The only child of Princess Caroline who has a royal title is Princess Alexandra because her father (Caroline's third husband) is Prince Ernst August of Hanover.

The complexities of royal titles brought many impacts especially to the treatment of the status of spouses of royals. In Great Britain, a commoner woman marrying a royal prince does not automatically make her a Princess, thus it is inappropriate to call Kate Middleton Princess Catherine, officially she is only Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge. When Diana was still alive, she too was not officially Princess Diana but only Diana, the Princess of Wales. If ever they were princesses, Catherine and Diana would be called Princess William and Princess Charles respectively because the conditions of their status were derived from their husbands.

But in other European countries like Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, Monaco, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Sweden, marrying a Prince automatically make one a Princess, because monarchs from these countries normally declares through a charter that a woman marrying a prince of the blood royal automatically becomes a princess, but not in Britain. The British monarch does not traditionally grant a special letter of patent making a wife of a royal prince a Princess in her own right.

I hope the explanations above help a lot....

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