It’s easy to say you’re a fan of the royal family, especially if you think you know all the updates and dirty laundry about them from all the news and tabloid sites you’ve read from.
But do you really understand how things go within their family? If you analyze things in a deeper sense, you’ll see that you don’t really know technicalities in the powerful clan.
Take for example last year’s wedding – Prince Harry married Meghan Markle, who was then an American actress who gave up being Rachel in the series “Suits” when she moved to the United Kingdom.
Confusion behind Royal Titles
When we were kids, we heard from countless fairytales and even learned from Disney films that once you marry a prince, you will become a princess.
But now, Markle isn’t referred to as “Princess Meghan,” but her title is the Duchess of Sussex. The same goes for Kate Middleton, who tied the knot with Prince William in 2011 and received the title Duchess of Cambridge.
If fictional stories are concerned, duchesses aren’t always mentioned, only princesses. How come Princess Eugenie get to be called as such? Needless to say, royal titles are confusing.
First, let’s analyze the role of the royal family. According to royal historian Marlene Koenig, their primary task is to support Queen Elizabeth II in her duties and services and to help strengthen national stability.
However, not all the members of the clan have official duties on behalf of the monarch, those who do are called the working royals and those who don’t are called non-working royals. The latter are the ones who go to family engagements like the Trooping the Colour.
Can Be Inherited or by Marriage
Going back, you might be wondering who gets to be called a prince or a princess. These titles can either be inherited or gained via marriage, although there are strings of rules to be considered as well.
They are oftentimes addressed as His/Her Royal Highness (HRH). In terms of royal blood, King George V’s order in 1917 identified who has the right to inherit or to pass the title.
According to the letter, all the monarch’s offspring, male grandchildren, and the eldest living son of the Prince of Wales’ eldest son should have the HRH title.
Sounds mouthful? To put it simply, regardless of gender, all the reigning monarch’s children and the monarch’s son’s kids will have the HRH title.
The Prince of Wales’ eldest grandson will be a prince, too. That should make things easier to remember, but hold up, things will just get perplexing when gender and marriage are to be mixed in the potion.
Koenig explained that a woman will always take her husband’s title unless she has a higher rank. She also cannot pass on to her children their titles unless she is a reigning monarch or they hold the title in their own right, which is not through marriage.
Meanwhile, when a woman who is a commoner weds a prince, then she carries the princess title, just like what happened with Middleton and Markle. However, if a royal woman ties the knot with a commoner, the man won’t get a title.
The latest example of this is Princess Eugenie, who married Jack Brooksbank last year. The man wasn’t given any rank by the queen, although the wife retained hers.
Several patents had to be made in order to extend the HRH title to specific individuals in the royal family.
By 1948, King George VI made an order that will extend all the ranks to the children of then Princess Elizabeth II, who back then had yet to give birth to her first child, Prince Charles.
The same was what happened when Queen Elizabeth issued a letter patent granting all the children of Prince William and Middleton the prince or princess title.
If we are to consider George V’s order, only Prince George would have gotten the rank and Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis would have taken the titles lady and lord.
Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle’s Case
As per Koenig, those who were not born as princesses or don’t have an HRH status should take the titles of their husband, which was what happened with the Duchess of Sussex and Duchess of Cambridge, Markle and Middleton, respectively.
So, they remain princesses regardless of their stylized titles. Princess Anne takes an HRH title because she’s by blood, a royal, so she outranks the two.