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Prince William and Kate Middleton Engagement, what will her title be?

William and Kate - A Royal Engagement poster

Written by : published Thursday 25th November 2010

Prince William and Kate Middleton Engagement, what will her title be? main image

The next hotly debated topic will be by what title Kate Middleton will be called after marriage to Prince William. Kate has traversed the tricky waters of Royal engagement by keeping her mouth mostly shut and looking very pretty in almost every available venue. Like Lady Diana, Middleton never dated any one else seriously, and one hopes that won't mean problems for later. Middleton faces a problem in that the hereditary title is still held by its current Prince of Wales, her soon to be father in law.  And having Camilla as a mother in law must be a stepping stone to handling any situation.

Middleton's parents have been suggested for a title, something which will probably not happen. there was an embarrassing scandal some years ago when a promotion of the Middleton's company included some kind of royal inference, a story which many said would scotch Kate's chances to be Queen someday. but it seems the wishes of Prince William, as well as the reverberating scandals of the Diana/Charles marriage, have silenced critics. Even a transparent dress worn in a fashion show couldn't shake Kate's aplomb. The traditional wedding gift of a reigning monarch to the Royal heir's bride is the "HRH" styling and appellation. This is not automatic.

Admittedly, Kate Middleton, the new bride, is the child of wealthy parents, but few can argue how tough any other candidate would have it. Royal weddings are filled with pageants of heirs and scions of Europe's noblest families, with family trees that stretch back to days of woad. Kate must stand shoulder to shoulder with them and garner the highest respect. The crown princes and princesses of Europe might forgive her a commoner status but the lack of wealth and upbringing would be the wrong background for the future Queen of England. this brings us to the touchy problem of what Catherine Elizabeth Middleton's title shall be upon marriage.

Generally it is a recognized practice in the U. K. to give stepping down Prime Ministers and other honorees a title. This comes sometimes with a choice of being knighted or having a barony conferred s the children can inherited the title. Baron Denis Thatcher never served in government nor was he born noble, but his entitlement instead of Margaret Thatcher's allows their son Mark to one day be Sir Mark and Lady Thatcher. Sadly, Mark Thatcher spent his social currency financing arms deals to South Africans. So the mother of the future King should have a title as well so as to mark her precedence and beg courtesy from her new subjects.

Many social critics have argued that Princess Anne, according to the strict rules of preferment and attainder in British etiquette, should not enjoy a peerage, extended honors, or title. And the scandals surrounding Fergie damped the hoped of an immediate royal Dukedom for Prince Edward, the Queen's youngest son, upon marriage. Sophie became the Countess of Wessex, and their son will inherited the shared Royal Dukedom of Kent. Queen Elizabeth declared after World War II ended that there would be no more Dukedoms created (Lawrence of Arabia turned a title down as well). Kate Middleton will have to live with any new title for a long, long time.

Kate Middleton is not the first Royal lady with a title issue. Many watching the British social peerage claim that Princess Anne, following the rules of male primogeniture, derives her title from being only the daughter of a Duke, Prince Philip. Prince Philip's title came from the crown of the deposed throne of Greece. But being the child of a sovereign and being ennobled by her mother as the Princess Royal, made sure she would never be outranked by commoners. Anne did not share this concern for her grandson Peter, and their commercial deal to publicize their wedding may have been a result.

Yet Anne herself, now (properly) Lady Anne Lawrence, is styled as a specially created personage "the Princess Royal". This was done after the media insisted on calling the princess of Wales 'Princess" Diana. Pundits claimed there was "no such person". Princess maud a gneration or two before had the same experience. Anne refused titles for her children Peter and Zara. Long divorced from her first husband, one now wonders if this was to keep him from enjoying the style of a noble after their separation.

This did happen when Princess Margaret divorced her husband the Earl of Snowdon. Tony Armstrong-Jones remarried and carried his title with him, ennobling subsequent offspring  although he inherited neither title nor lineage from any parents or relatives.His life peerage and Victiria Cross were awarded to keep up proprieties, although it later came out that Snowdon fathered a child three weeks into his marriage to Princess Margaret and in his second marriage fathered a son outside wedlock.

On this basis Peter Phillips, grandson of Queen Elizabeth, is outranked by his former (commoner) uncle's new daughter Frances by the second marriage, not royal or connected to a title in any way. Other Royal Dukedoms like Connaught, Cambridge, Clarence and other defunct titles do exist for conveyance to William if the Queen chooses. But what family title can they bequeath that ahs no legacy of scandal, taint, or broken promises?

But since in Britain a lady takes her title from her father or her husband, Kate has neither unless it is specially articulated or granted by the Queen. Since the Dukedom of Windsor lies fallow, it would be eligible, except that the onus of the name has such a negative legacy nobody would wish that for a young bride. "Princess William of Windsor" might be the title Kate gets, since the Battenberg related Saxe-Coburg-Gotha house of Windsor became the new name (later Mountbatten/Windsor) after World War 1. But that is not quite as modern or fun as Kate herself. But in this respect Princess Anne is really Princess of Windsor. In England bookies are taking bets now on Kate Middleton's new title.

But for the titles conferred on Edward the Abdicated, the Duke of Windsor, the matter was a sticky wicket. Edward was infuriated when the Court and the Monarchy of his succession would not give Wallis Simpson "HRH" status with her title. Since the Duchess of Windsor was later shown in print delightedly shaking hands with Adolf Hitler, it was just as well. Any children of the Windsor's marriage together would have had a permanent question mark over them as well. This is not a good echo to give the new Royal couple. Therefore another title is needed. As wife of the future heir, Kate must have a rank that comes above her nieces Beatrice and Eugenie, both HRH daughters of a Royal Duke and a Prince.

But too many titles can have a problem, Fergie, the Duchess of York, is an all-too-frequent reminder to the British people how titles, pomp and circumstance can go to a person's head. It may be assumed that a wealthy new Princess William will never be tempted to suck toes or sell weight loss foods, or promote charity books whose profit funds may not get to the church on time. Marrying the son of Princess Diana is even more of a fairy tale that marrying Prince Charles and the British people can be sure that Kate Middleton is neither starving herself nor taking second place to anyone to feature in William's life and family role.

It is for these reasons that social critics wonder what her title shall be. Kate Middleton married to the heir of England must have a title that shows her rank. The technical problems are that until William becomes Prince of Wales, there must be a title created for him that sets him in the royal line of succession with Kate by his side. She must have a coat of arms created for her, and etiquette will require for Kate ladies in waiting, who will not want to attend a woman of lower rank than they themselves or their mothers.  So Kate Middleton must have some title created for her and awarded upon her marriage to Prince William.

Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden married her personal trainer, and he got a title. A TV newscaster married Prince Felipe of Spain. She is now Duchess of the Asturias. The naming of a new heir's wife is an important and time honored part of the Royal marriage rite. It is not likely that Prince Charles will cede his title. One title proposed for the late Princess of Wales upon her divorce was "Duchess of Cornwall". But now Camilla uses that style. Kate Middleton is the first commoner to marry the heir to the British throne in 300 years. She should, and will, have a title. The question now is, which one?

 

Don't miss tonights BBC 2 special at 11:20pm or on the iPlayer William and Kate - A Royal Engagement

 

And if you missed the movie, in the cinema, pick up your box set of The Queen at Amazon.

About the author thetvking

thetvking

Hi my name is  Chris Ramsden, I am the creator of TheTVKing. I don't write that often but every now and again I dust off the keyboard. I tweet as @TheTVKing

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