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As I have stated in this blog in the past many people mistakenly call Queen Elizabeth II the “Queen of England.” It is a pet peeve of mine. Her actual title is Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. However, I do miss the old titles of King/Queen of England and King/Queen of Scots. Changes are happening within the UK that will affect the titles of the monarch. With the change in succession laws there will need to be changes in the title of the heir to the throne. Also with states within the UK seeking greater autonomy could we possibly see a return to the old titles of of King/Queen of England and King/Queen of Scots?

Issue #1. When Britain changes to cognatic primogeniture where the eldest child will inherit the throne regardless of gender what will happen to these titles of Prince/Princess of Wales and Princess Royal. Right now the title of Princes of Wales has gone to the senior male heir to the throne and the title Princess of Wales has never been given in its own right and has traditionally gone to the wife of the Prince of Wales. For example, HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, wife of the current Prince of Wales, is technically and legally HRH The Princess of Wales. She just doesn’t use the title out of respect fro Diana. 

The title of Princess Royal is relatively new. It was first given to Princess Mary of England and Scotland (1630-1661) of the Royal House of Stuart. Mary’s mother, Queen Henrietta Maria (1609-1669), daughter of Henri IV, King of France, and wife of King Charles I of England and Scotland (1600-1649), wanted to imitate the way the eldest daughter of the King of France was styled “Madame Royale”. The style is granted by Royal Warrant.

Will an eldest daughter be given the title Princess of Wales in her own right? Will there be a Princess Royal only when there is a male heir?

Personally I think the current holder of the title Princess Royal, Princess Anne, will be the last. If the eldest daughter can be eligible for the throne ahead of her brother then this title becomes pointless. One solution, which is what I think will happen, is that the title of Princess of Wales will be given in its own right. I am not sure what the husband of a Princess of Wales will be called. It may not seem fair that the husband should not share his wife’s titles…but having a husband of the Princess of Wales being called Prince of Wales when he is not the heir goes against the tradition. I know, I know there is a double standard.

The other option, which I actually like better, is to return the title of Prince/Princess of Wales to the Crown (see issue #2) and have the heir to the throne titled Duke/Duchess of Cornwall while in England and Duke/Duchess of Rothesay while in Scotland. This has some precidence since the current Prince of Wales is known as the Duke of Rothesay whenever he is in Scotland.

Issue #2. In 2014 there will be a referendum on Scottish independence. I am not sure how it will go. What I think this issue does raise is the need for greater political autonomy within the UK. I don’t necessarily want to see the UK dismantled, but I would like to see each state have more autonomy. If that were to happen then I would like to see the title of the monarch reflect that position. I think the precedence for the titles can be found in Spain.

Although it was correct to call the monarch the King/Queen of Spain in the past, their official title never was simply the King/Queen of Spain. Instead, prior to 1931 the title of the Spanish monarch was officially His Catholic Majesty, the King of Spain [the Spains], King of Castile, of León, of Aragon, of the Two Sicilies, etc. Therefore if England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland were to have greater autonomy I would like to see, in the next reign more likely, Charles III be called King of the United Kingdom, King of England, King of Scots, King of Ireland and Prince of Wales. If Wales has equal autonomy within the UK then the title “Prince of Wales” should represent the Head of State of that nation instead of being reserved for the heir to the Head of State.

I do not know if any of this will come to pass but I do think some changes will occur in the future with these royal titles. It is fun to speculate about them and it will be fun to watch what happens.