Let’s play a very quick round of royal trivia. Do you know who the Earl of Strathhearn is? Or Baron Carrickfergus? Or Baron Kilkeel?
OK, OK, that’s a trick question. The Earl of Strathern and Baron Carrickfergus are both other titles belonging to Prince William, while Baron Kilkeel is better known as Prince Harry, who also happens to be the Earl of Dumbarton.
What I mean here is that if there is one rule that the Windsor House abides by (other than “ horses 4 eva ” and politely ignore all those Nazi adjacent relatives), why have a title when you can have loads of them in a positive way?
The titles in the royal context are not only a masterful thrift store, but carry with them a real import. Who gets what and when is an antiquated Queenly semaphore medium, with Her Majesty crafting fantastic new titles to mark birthdays and special occasions, the way you or I might find a JB Hi-Fi gift card.
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For example, last year to mark Prince Edward’s 55th birthday, the Queen gave Prince Edward County Forfar in Scotland, meaning that when he and his wife Sophie travel north they are known as the name of Count and Countess of Forfar. (County Forfar, for all your title nerds, is especially significant given its proximity to Glamis Castle where the Queen Mother was born.)
This is where Princess Eugenie, her red-faced charmer from a husband Jack Brooskbank and their unborn child, come in.
Last week Eugenie, tenth to the throne, announced that she was pregnant – hurray! – but where things get a little sticky with Baby Brooksbank, that’s where we come to the question of the toddler’s future title, or lack thereof.
According to Vanity Fair, before the couple married in 2018, “Jack was offered a title, but chose not to take it,” making him the only publicly known employee of George Clooney’s tequila brand Casamigos to have achieved a hair of a county. Not only did this choice mean that Jack remained as old as Mr. Brooksbank, but it meant that their future children wouldn’t automatically get a title.
“Even though the Queen gave them a title (for their baby) as a gift, it is not Eugenie or Jack’s desire for their child to have a title,” a family friend said. Vanity Fair. “Eugenie knows that a title can be a curse as well as a blessing and she and Jack want their child to lead an ordinary life and end up working for a living. Titles really don’t matter to Jack and Eugenie, they just want a happy, healthy kid.
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The Brooksbanks’ decision comes a year and shortly after Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, decided their son Archie would not use the title he is entitled to, the Earl of Dumbarton. The move shouldn’t have been such a big surprise, considering that Harry had said years earlier, “I’m determined to have a relatively normal life and if I’m lucky enough to have children they can. have one too.
Of the Queen’s eight great-grandchildren, only three have titles, namely the three adorable children of William and Kate the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, this which places them squarely in the minority.
While Prince Charles married a lean version of the Royal Family which in decades to come would mean the balcony of Buckingham Palace is much less crowded with minor RHS and the extended Windsor clan, there are still some titled hands left. on the palate. taller.
In 1973, Princess Anne and her then-fiancé, Mark Phillips, turned down a county for him before his marriage so they could give their children a normal life. But, she was the mad horse anomaly to the titled rule.
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However, the next generation resumes the “normal” mantle with flying colors.
And that bodes very badly for the institution of the monarchy.
For decades – even centuries – to be royal was to have incredible power and great wealth. Wars have been fought for this; a myriad of European marriages made to maintain a hold similar to a vice; literally heads were rolling in a bloody fight to protect him.
However, not anymore.
There is an implicit message in recent choices around titles: to be royal is to be constrained and limited; being denied the chance to build a life of your own and that there is something wrong with growing up with a predetermined identity dictated by a millennial institution.
To be a royal in the 21st century is to face an almost unthinkable level of scrutiny and judgment while being supposed to live up to a certain standard. For those not in the direct line of succession, being an HRH doesn’t seem like some kind of glittering addition to life, but stepping into the world trapped in a pair of golden handcuffs. The message these days is that a title is a burden.
Let me ask you: for the royal children who will not be king, what is the real benefit of being a member of a ruling household, other than maybe a free (probably cramped) palace cottage? from Kensington?
With Harry and Eugenie, we have a prince and a princess who send the signal very clearly that they think their children’s lives will be better if they are not encumbered by a title. And this, in turn, undermines the basic and accepted principles of royalty.
The glaring problem for the palace here is: what does it say about the royal family if the younger members of the institution are very clear that they don’t want their own children to identify as royals? What if being royal is seen as an obstacle in the modern world?
The power and majesty of the monarchy only work if it is seen as the absolute ne plus ultra – the absolute pinnacle. And the message the Queen’s grandchildren are sending, the minds of people who have spent their entire lives defined by their closeness to the throne, is essentially, that’s not all it’s cracked to be.
In the decades to come, George will begin, like his father before him, the progressive learning which will end on the throne. But the big blinking question mark is about Charlotte and Louis and how they’ll navigate the loaded no man’s land between being accountable and building their own life and identity.
If there’s one thing we can predict fairly accurately about the Windsor House, it’s that in the 21st century there will be a lot of aftermarket titles lying around the Palace. So who wants to be a Scottish baronet then?
Daniela Elser is a royal expert and writer with over 15 years of experience working with a number of Australia’s leading media titles.
Originally posted as Meghan and Eugenie move condemned palace