With all of the hullabaloo (what a wonderful word) over Kate’s pregnancy, I had sort of decided not to contribute by reporting on every last little ripple in the news, especially with the tragedy surrounding the hospital hoax and the nurse who was involved. However, last week was Kate’s 31st birthday, and the Queen announced that she was changing a pretty long-standing law, so I think that merits a blog post. 🙂
On January 9, the BBC reported that the Queen had issued letters patent on December 31 (which are a form of legislation, though Parliament is not involved) giving every child of the eldest son of The Prince of Wales the style and title “Royal Highness.” Under the previous letters patent, issued in 1917 by King George V, restricted the royal style, and under the old law, William and Kate’s baby, should it be a girl, would have been styled as “Lady,” consistent with the daughters of dukes. As I honestly see no need to repeat and/or essentially plagiarize myself, you can read more about what the situation would have been like in an article I wrote – for Yahoo under the pseudonym Analie Byron – here.
The 1917 letters patent were issued by George V as a way to modernize and reign in the royal family at a time when many nations were deposing their monarchs (or executing, in the case of the Romanovs). However, considering that the law of succession is being changed to allow a first-born daughter to accede to the throne ahead of a younger brother, it was certainly time to allow any and every child of William and Kate the royal status that is their birthright. (Of course, when Charles becomes King, they would have automatically gained the style due to being male-line grandchildren of the monarch, but now that’s neither here nor there.)
Should William and Kate’s first child be a girl, more letters patent would probably be necessary a generation or two down the line – should the eldest child receive the title Prince (or Princess) of Wales regardless of gender, for one – but that’s a bridge the royals can cross when they get to it.