Prince George, Louis and Charlotte ask Attenborough questions
The Princess Royal is a title which is expected to be granted to the monarch’s eldest daughter. However, this is not an automatic privilege. Anne did not become the Princess Royal until she was 36, in June 1987 — even though the title had been vacant since 1965. Therefore, even when Prince William inherits the throne, his only daughter Princess Charlotte will not automatically inherit the title.
She is currently styled as HRH Princess Charlotte of Cambridge, and may actually end up keeping that title for longer than royal watchers expect.
Anne kept a similar title to the one she had from childhood even when she wed Captain Mark Phillips in 1973 — he refused the Queen’s offer of an earldom, which is a customary present for the untitled men marrying into the Firm.
Anne only became the seventh person to be granted the title Princess Royal in British history in June 1987.
Looking into why the Queen chose this seemingly random period to bestow the title to Anne, royal historian Marlene Koenig told Hello! Magazine: “There is a lot to be said for the timing.
“The Phillips marriage was already in trouble.
Princess Charlotte and Anne, Princess Royal
Anne only became Princess Royal when her marriage to Captain Mark Phillips began to crumble
“They separated two years later but in 1985 Mark became a father of Felicity Tonkin, born in New Zealand.
“This story broke in 1991 but there is no doubt that Anne already knew as Heather Tonkin had called Gatcombe to tell Mark that she was pregnant.
“Accepting the title of Princess Royal allowed Anne to stop being styled as HRH The Princess Anne, Mrs Mark Phillips.”
Despite marrying again to Navy officer Sir Timothy Laurence, Anne has kept the Princess Royal title and will until her death.
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Anne, Charlotte, Kate, William and Charles attending the Christmas church service last year
Although she was the eldest daughter of King George VI, the Queen never became the Princess Royal because the title belonged to her aunt Princess Mary until her death, too.
Anne’s great-niece Princess Charlotte is therefore less likely to be awarded the same title for at least a few decades.
Even then, it will be up to the then-King William to grant it to her, but he may be reluctant to rush into it, due to the rules attached to the title.
Royal author Duncan Larcombe told Town & Country: “Under ancient British law, any man who sleeps with the Princess Royal before they are married is guilty of high treason — punishable by execution.”
Charlotte has, however, benefited from other recent changes to royal rules.
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The Queen’s aunt, Mary, was the last woman before Anne to be known as Princess Royal
Charlotte is fourth-in-line to the throne, one place above her younger brother Louis
The Succession to the Crown Act of 2013 changed tradition so that the gender of a royal no longer affects their position in the line to the throne.
In the past, two-year-old Prince Louis would have been bumped up above Charlotte, even though she is three years’ his senior because he’s a boy.
After these recent changes, she became the first princess in British history not to be overtaken in the line of succession by her younger brother.
This means she is now fourth-in-line behind her older brother, Prince George, her father, William, and her grandfather, Prince Charles.
Ms Koenig claimed that this change could also affect any titles Charlotte receives when she is an adult.
Charlotte with William, Kate, Louis, George and Camilla during 2019 Trooping the Colour
The Cambridge family clapping for the NHS earlier this year
She added: “With gender equal succession, I think it would be more possible to grant a peerage to Charlotte.
“Prince Louis will get one when he marries, so it would only be fair if Charlotte was named a Duchess on her wedding day.
“She and her children will be ahead of Louis’ line in the succession.”
Indeed, both William and Prince Harry were granted dukedoms on their wedding days, as was Prince Andrew.
Prince Edward was granted the Earldom of Wessex, after he put in a special request with the Queen, while Charles already had the grand title of the Prince of Wales when he first wed in 1981.
However, it remains to be seen whether Charlotte will be made a Duchess on her wedding day.
Unlike both Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, she would hold the title in her own right rather than through marriage.
Yet, there is no tradition for blood princesses to be granted such a title.