This past October Kensington Palace announced that HRH The Duchess of Sussex was pregnant. Seeing that she is due to deliver her child anytime from mid-April to early May I’d like to discuss and clear up any confusion to what titles the baby will have…if any.
Their Royal Hignesses The Duke and Duchess of Sussex
Under the provisions of the 1917 Letter’s Patent any children born to the Royal Couple during the life time of the Queen will NOT have a royal title. Under the provisions of the 1917 Letter’s Patent the royal title is limited to the grandchildren of the sovereign in the male line. The Duke and Duchess’ child will be great-grandchildren in the male line of the sovereign thus making them ineligible for a title.
However, if the child is a boy he will be called the Earl of Dumbarton since the Earldom of Dumbarton is a secondary title of the Duke of Sussex. The eldest son of a duke, marquess or earl almost always uses one of his father’s subsidiary titles as a courtesy title; for instance, the eldest son of the Earl of Wessex is called Viscount Severn. Generally, the practice of using a secondary title as a courtesy title for the heir to a noble title is applied to non-royal nobles. Since the eldest son of the Earl of Wessex does not have a title he is granted the use of a courtesy title. This will be the case if the son of the Duke of Sussex remains non-royal. In the case of Royals with a dukedom (the Duke of Cambridge for example) the heir to the title, Prince George in this case, uses “of Cambridge” as a territorial designation instead of Earl of Strathearn his father’s secondary title.
A male child will also be in line to inherit his father’s dukedom. Royal dukedoms are hereditary, according to the terms of the letters patent that created them, which usually contain the standard remainder to the “heirs male of his body”. However, if a male child of the Duke of Sussex remains without a royal title then the Dukedom of Sussex will cease to be a royal Dukedom once this child succeeds to the title.
The original 1917 Act only provided a title for a great-grandchild in the male line of the sovereign when that child is the eldest son, of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales. In this instance, Prince George of Cambridge is again a good example.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and family.
The Queen issued new Letters Patent on December 31, 2012 declaring that all of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s children will have the title of Royal Highness and be styled Princes and Princesses. The document states, “The QUEEN has been pleased by Letters Patent under the Great Seal of the Realm dated December 31, 2012 to declare that all the children of the eldest son of The Prince of Wales should have and enjoy the style, title and attribute of Royal Highness with the titular dignity of Prince or Princess prefixed to their Christian names or with such other titles of honour.” This is how the siblings of Prince George of Cambridge, Charlotte and Louis, were able to be granted the style Royal Highness and Prince or Princess of the United Kingdom.
It is my understanding that this amendment of the 1917 Letters Patent wasn’t just for the children of the Duke of Cambridge but also for any children of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales in the future, if ever the same circumstances arises.
The Queen could do something similar with the children of The Duke and Duchess of Sussex. As the font of all honors Her Majesty is allowed to further amend the 1917 Act. However, in the long run it won’t be necessary when the Prince of Wales come to the throne. Any children born to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex that are born during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II will automatically gain the style Royal Highness and the title Prince/Princess of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland when the Queen passes away; for they will no longer be great-grandchildren of the sovereign, they will be the grandchildren of the new sovereign, King Charles III.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex
That is how things stand of today but they could change. I have encountered some people that believe the Queen will create Letters Patent granting the Royal Style and Title to the children of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. The Queen issued Letters Patent granting that all of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s children will have the title of Royal Highness and be styled Princes and Princess on December 31, 2012, a full seven months before the birth of Prince George of Cambridge. It is of my opinion that if the Queen was going to create Letters Patent granting the Royal style and title to the children of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex she would have done it by now. It is possible she will create new Letters Patent for the Sussex baby and I could be wrong.
What I report next are rumors that haven’t been verified but are worth mentioning. There has been talk that when the Prince of Wales becomes king he desires to trim down the numbers of working royals. Also, I have heard that the Duke of Sussex, similar to the Earl of Wessex, desires that their children not be given a Royal title so they can be raised away from the limelight in order for them to have as normal of a life as possible. If any of that is true the Prince of Wales, as King, my create his own Letters Patent that replaces the 1917 Letters Patent restructuring the Royal Family and limiting titles.
HM The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh
One thing is certain, whether boy or girl, the Baby of the Duke & Duchess of Sussex will be the FIRST to be officially surnamed Mountbatten-Windsor, per the Letters Patent of 1960. Under a declaration made in Privy Council in 1960, the surname Mountbatten-Windsor will be applied to male-line descendants of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh who are without royal styles and titles. Individuals with royal styles do not usually use a surname, but some descendants of the Queen with royal styles have used Mountbatten-Windsor when a surname was required.