Monday, 27 Sep 2021

Princess Anne royal title rejection allowed Prince Harry and Edward to ‘push it further’

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Princess Anne, 70, is widely admired for her unwavering dedication to royal duty. But despite being one of the hardest working members of the Royal Family, the Princess Royal decided against giving her children – Zara Tindall, 39, and Peter Phillips, 42 – official titles. This move set a new precedent for royal parents to come and according to a constitutional expert, it allowed Anne’s younger brother Prince Edward, 55, and nephew Prince Harry, 36, to sway further away from the tradition titles when it came to their own children.

Princess Anne married her first husband and father of her children Captain Mark Phillips in 1973.

According to an expert, Anne’s refusal of a royal title for her husband signalled that her children would be raised without them too.

Constitutional expert Iain MacMarthanne told “In 1973, the then Princess Anne married Captain Mark Phillips and at that juncture both refused a title for Captain Phillips.

“It in effect meant that any children born of the marriage would pass through life without a title.”

The expert added: “With the birth of their son Peter in 1977, and daughter Zara 1981, they continued to eschew titles for the grandchildren of the Queen.”

While Anne wasn’t the first royal woman to reject a title for her husband, she was the first child of a sovereign not to take them for her children.

Mr MacMarthanne explained: “There had been an earlier precedent of this decision when Princess Alexandra of Kent married Angus Ogilvy, and they too had refused a title.

“However, in the case of Anne, this was the first time that the child of a sovereign had taken this decision.”

He added: “Earlier, in 1960, when Princess Margaret, daughter of George VI, married Antony Armstrong-Jones he received and accepted the Earldom of Snowdon prior to the birth of their first child, a son, who would take the courtesy title Viscount Linley.

“As with any action a precedent is set and the use and application of royal titles, or the granting of new titles, is a case in point.”

Mr MacMarthanne claimed that Anne’s royal precedent has gained traction in recent years as more senior royals see the disadvantages to possessing a title in modern life.

The changing times can make having a title “more of a hindrance than a benefit”.


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The expert said: “Clearly in recent years the decision not to accept, or use titles, has been driven by an understanding of the changing role of the monarchy, and the life a member of the family can expect to lead.

“In real terms, a title can prove more of a hindrance than a benefit.

“Accordingly, in a world less driven by social protocol and deference it seems imminently sensible that members of the family, who will not have a front line role, are not encumbered by the limitations a title might bring.”

Mr MacMarthanne claimed that not having a title allows royal offspring to pursue a “more private life” which is precisely what Prince Edward and Prince Harry want for their children.

The expert said: “Certainly this has been the common explanation given by those who have refused titles, allowing their children instead to pursue a more private life, albeit in a public way, whilst remaining a member of the wider royal family.”

Mr MacMarthanne claimed, Anne’s decision allowed Harry and Edward to “push the precedent further.”

He said: “Without doubt, the Princess Royal’s decision in the 1970s brought the precedent closer to the crown, and has enabled her brother Prince Edward and nephew Prince Harry to push its limits still further creating, in her wake, new ones.”

While technically Prince Edward’s two children – Lady Louise Windsor and Viscount, James Severn are a princess and prince they are styled after their father’s peerage instead.

Mr MacMarthanne explained: “This has been seen in her brother, the Earl of Wessex and Forfar, rejecting the HRH prefix for his children and instead of having his son use his courtesy title Viscount Severn rather than prince.”

Prince Harry pushed things even further with his son Archie Harrison, who does not use any title at all despite technically being entitled to be known as the Earl of Dumbarton.

Mr MacMarthanne said: “The Duke of Sussex meanwhile has pushed it still further in respect of his son who does not even use his father’s courtesy title.”

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