1917 Letter's Patent, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Duke of Cambridge, James Windsor, King George V of Great Britain, Kings and Queens of England, Lady Louise Windsor, Prince Edward, Queen Elizabeth II, The Earl of Wessex
I have been having some lively debates on this topic on Facebook and another Royal message board. Things seem a little cloudy when it comes to the future title of HRH The Earl of Wessex and the titles of his children. The debate hinges around how Her Majesty the Queen conducts her royal prerogative as the font of all honors.
Let’s take the children of TRH The Earl and Countess of Wessex. According to the 1917 Letters Patent (LP) issued by King George V the title of Prince or Princess of the UK is held by the sons and daughters of the sovereign, the male line grandchildren of the sovereign, and the eldest son of the Prince of Wales’s eldest son. Prince George of Cambridge is an example of the last condition of the LP. Incidentally, with HRH the Duchess of Cambridge due pretty soon with their second child, this child would not hold a royal title under the rules of the 1917 LP. However, on December 31, 2012 Letters Patent were issued by Queen Elizabeth II which extended the 1917 patent so that all children of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are Princes or Princesses of the UK with the style Royal Highness.
I think her actions on the Cambridge children and their titles is important to this debate. Let me explain further. According to the 1917 LP the Children of the Earl of Wessex are entitled to be Princes or Princesses of the UK with the style Royal Highness, but they are just not currently using those titles. Or, do they not even have them? There are some that believe that the agreement in 1999 between Her Majesty the Queen and the Earl of Wessex that his children be styled as the son or daughter of a non-royal Earl was enough to deny them their titles. Is her wish and word enough or does she have to issue Letters Patent to override the 1917 LP? That is the question.
There are two camps. One camp believes their children, James Windsor, Viscount Severn, and, Lady Louise Windsor, are, in fact, Princes or Princesses of the UK with the style Royal Highness. They cite the 1917 LP as evidence and feel that Her Majesty’s agreement with the Earl of Wessex did not override or negate the 1917 LP. The other camp believes that Her Majesty, as the Font of All Honors, doesn’t always have to issue LPs to state her will and that her word and will is just as sufficient as LPs in this area. In that case, then the agreement between Her Majesty the Queen and the Earl of Wessex that his children be styled as the son of a non-royal Earl was enough to deny them their titles. Plus, it has been pointed out, that if the Wessex children wanted to use the titles the 1917 LP allows them to have, they would need permission from the sovereign to start using them, giving weight to the argument that they do not have the titles.
I can see both sides of this issue so I am neutral on this issue.
I want to keep this to a digestible amount so part II, dealing with the Earl of Wessex title and his inheriting his father’s title “Duke of Edinburgh,” will be posted tomorrow.