There has been som sort of a "title bonanza" (in the meaning "a large amount of something good", cf. Cambridge Dictionary) in the United Kingdom lately. Maybe I am stretching the expression a bit. But I thought the subject title would look rather cool with it, so I will stick to it.
I have been rather busy lately, among others I have paid visits to Egypt and the United States, so I have not been able to update my blog for some time. This article will provide a summary of recent title news in the United Kingdom.
1. Prince of Wales
A Letters Patent creating Prince William, Duke of Cornwall etc. Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester was published in The London Gazette on 24 February 2023:
In accordance with the direction of HIS MAJESTY THE KING Letters Patent have passed the Great Seal of the Realm, dated the 13th February 2023 for creating His Royal Highness Prince William Arthur Philip Louis, Duke of Cornwall Rothesay and Cambridge, Earl of Carrick and Strathearn, Baron of Renfrew, Baron Carrickfergus, K.G., K.T., Lord of the Isles and Prince and Great Steward of Scotland, PRINCE OF WALES and EARL OF CHESTER.
One can only wonder why it has taken so long to issue the Letters Patent, but better late than never, they say. In his first speech to the nation on 9 September 2022, the day after King Charles III succeeded to the throne, he let it be known that he had created his son Prince William Prince of Wales. The Letters Patent only formalized that decision, and the creation should be counted from 9 September 2022, not 24 February 2023. By the way, Marlene Koenig wrote a good historical summary of Letters patents and the Prince of Wales title on 6 February 2023, updated on 24 February 2023, in her blog Royal Musings.
2. Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet of Sussex
Last Thursday (9 March 2023) the spokesperson of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex issued a press statement informing that "that Princess Lilibet Diana was christened on Friday, March 3 by the Archbishop of Los Angeles, the Rev John Taylor". Leaving the fact that John Taylor is a bishop and not an archbishop for now, the titles for the Sussex children came as a surprise to most observers. The titles were confirmed by Buckingham Palace when the line of succesion was updated early on 9 March. What a mess the Palace and the Sussexes have created. First, such news should have come in a statement from Buckingham Palace, not from the Sussexes. According to The Telegraph, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex had made it known to the royal family before Christmas that the children would take the royal titles. So why not give out the information then? Technically the Sussex children became Prince and Princess on 8 September 2022 in accordance with the Letters Patent of 30 November 1917. According to the same Letters Patent, "the grandchildren of the sons of any such Sovereign in the direct male line (save only the eldest living son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales) shall have and enjoy in all occasions the style and title enjoyed by the children of Dukes of these Our Realms". But when Archie was born in May 2019 it was stated that the baby boy would be known as Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor and, even if not expressed explicitly, not, by courtesy, as Earl of Dumbarton (Prince Harry's secondary title). Similarly, when Lilibet was born in June 2021, she was named Lilibet Diana Mountbatten-Windsor without "Lady" in front, whch technically was her right.
I have always wondered why the Duke and Duchess of Sussex made these decisions for their children at the time. It could be that they felt "snubbed" because the children were not gien royal titles right away just like the (younger) children of the current Prince and Princess of Wales (then Duke and Duchess of Cambridge), cf. the Letters Patent of 31 December 2012. We remember the infamous Oprah interview in March 2021 where the Duchess of Sussex commented on the title issue, and we were surprised (or maybe we shouldn't be) that she was so ill-informed. Of course Prince Harry should have known this and should have told her. But when reading his autobiography Spare I get the impression that Prince Harry don't/didn't know much about all the formalities surrounding the royal family and the monarchy, and that his father and the relevant court members have failed to communicate such formalities. I get the impression that the lack of communication within the British royal family is rather bad.
So, it seems that King Charles since his accession had let it be up to the Sussexes to decide on whether they should let their children use their rightfully royal titles or not. And now it has been decided and announced. Another statement from the Sussexes last Thursday said that "The children’s titles have been a birthright since their grandfather became monarch. This matter has been settled for some time in alignment with Buckingham Palace". The Palace should in my opinion have issued a statement and updated the official website much earlier. Maybe the Sussexes had feared that the king would issue a new Letters Patent restricting the titles for the members of the royal family and wanted to come ahead of such an issue. It would be more difficult for the king to make such a restriction now, but allegedly it has never been the king's intention to deprive them of the titles. All in all, it is just a communication mess. I get the birthright explanation and all, but when the children live in the United States and when the relationship with the British Royal Family is as it is, I wonder what they need the royal titles for. Obviously the titles will only be used in more formal settings.
3. Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex and Forfar created Duke of Edinburgh
Buckingham Palace announced on 10 March 2023, which was the earl's 59th birthday, that Prince Edward had been created Duke of Edinburgh:
His Majesty The King has been pleased to confer the Dukedom of Edinburgh upon The Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex and Forfar, on the occasion of His Royal Highness’s 59th birthday.
The title will be held by Prince Edward for His Royal Highness’s lifetime.
The Dukedom was last created for Prince Philip in 1947, upon his marriage to Princess Elizabeth, who held the title of Duchess of Edinburgh before acceding to the throne in 1952.
The new Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh are proud to continue Prince Philip’s legacy of promoting opportunities for young people of all backgrounds to reach their full potential.
So finally Prince Edward got the ducal title as promised. I wrote about the title issue back in March 2019 when he was created Earl of Forfar, so I don't feel the need to repeat it here. But I must say that I am very happy about the decision! The way the statement is phrased one gets the impression that Prince Edward has only been created Duke of Edinburgh for life, i.e. that the creation is not hereditary. We just have to wait and see how the Letters Patent, whenever it will be issued, is phrased before we know for sure. It could be that King Charles doesn't want the traditional royal ducal title to be carried by a commoner as will happen sooner or later to the ducal titles of Gloucester and Kent. Another question is whether the king is able to create a life peerage that is not a barony or not, cf. the Life Peerage Act (1958). Marlene Koenig has recently tweeted a link to a briefing on this question.
The Duke of Edinburgh's son James is now styled Earl of Wessex, while Louise continues t be styled [The] Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor.