PRINCESS CHARLOTTE could inherit a title hardly ever seen in the senior ranks of the Royal Family. The only daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge is currently fourth in line to the throne, behind her grandfather, father, and elder brother, Prince George. But Charlotte, six, could be in line for something even rarer — a title only ever seen seven times throughout history.
A title only bestowed by a British monarch at their discretion to their eldest daughter, it is the highest honour for a female member of the Royal Family to gain in the Firm. But, there have only been seven Princesses Royal in the monarchy’s long history. The honour of being called the Princess Royal is for life, and was bestowed on Charlotte’s great-aunt, Princess Anne, by the Queen back in 1987.
However, Princess Anne will retain this title until her death, regardless of who the monarch is at the time. The title dates back to the reign of Charles I, who created it for his daughter, Princess Matilda. Before Princess Anne claimed the title, it was last bestowed on Princess Mary, the daughter of King George V and Queen Elizabeth II’s aunt.
A title only held by the eldest daughter of the monarch, it was once speculated the Queen could hold the title, before ascending the throne. However, Princess Mary died in 1965, and occupied the role until then. But young Princess Charlotte could be in line for this role one day, during the future reign of her father, Prince William.
Princess Charlotte has already seen a number of changes come into play for the Royal Family around the time of her birth. A decade ago, the law of succession was altered to give female children in line to the throne equal status to their male relatives. The legislation ended what is known as the principle of male primogeniture, where men could leapfrog women for a place higher up in the line of succession.
The change was agreed following a meeting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government in Perth, Australia, in 2011. At the time, Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, were expecting their first child by the end of 2012, when the Government announced the Bill to change the law of succession to Parliament. It was not yet known whether Prince George, now eight, was a boy or a girl.
At the time, deputy prime minister Nick Clegg described the change as a “historic moment for our country and our Monarchy”. He added: “People across the realms of the Commonwealth will be celebrating the news that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their first child.
“We can also all celebrate that whether the baby is a boy or a girl, they will have an equal claim to the throne. “It’s a wonderful coincidence that the final confirmation from the other realms arrived on the very day that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge made their announcement.”
This change, although less relevant to Prince George upon his birth, ensured that Princess Charlotte held a more secure position in the line to the throne. When Prince Louis was then born in April 2018, this law meant Charlotte did not sacrifice her place in the line of succession to newborn Louis, but maintained her fourth-place position.