Styles of the members of the British royal family

First published Jan 2006.

This page provides a history of styles and titles in the British royal family, in particular those of "prince" and "(royal) highness".

Original documents are provided in an appendix.

Files from the National Archives can be found here.


1  Introduction and overview

When it comes to the styles and titles of the British Royal family, there are two periods to distinguish: before and after 1917.  In 1917, George V issued letters patent that precisely regulated these matters, specifying that a certain set of individuals were exclusively entitled to certain styles.  Before 1917, styles and titles were regulated by a mixture of partial rules and customs.

This introduction presents an overview of what these rules and customs were prior to 1917.  The rest of the page analyzes in more detail the actual practice, and provides the texts of a number of grants.

Note: since I began this page a scholarly article on the topic, which I have not yet seen, has been published:

  • Lyon, Ann: 'The Prince and the Duchess: The Honours of the Royal Family: An Unconsidered Area of the Royal Prerogative.' Liverpool Law Review July 2006, 27(2):203-231.

1.1  Titles and Styles: some general principles

See also what I have to say on royal styles.

peerages and other honors

Titles and styles, like dignities, precedence, distinctions, orders and decorations, emanate from the sovereign who is the fons honorum, fount of all honors. 

There is, however, a substantial difference between some of these honors and the rest: to peerages is attached a very high privilege, that of sitting in the House of Lords (the privilege was severely curtailed, but not altogether eliminated, by the House of Lords Act 1999).  Holders of peerages are not just recipients of honors emanating from the sovereign, they are called to play an important constitutional role.  For this reason, the dignity to which this role is linked has become part of  constitutional law, and around it has grown a substantial body of law defining and protecting the rights and duties of holders of peerages.  In particular, a peerage may only be created in a very specific form (by letters patent passed under the Great Seal) on government advice; holders of peerages cannot be deprived except by an Act of Parliament; peerages may be resigned only under certain procedures defined by statutes; etc.

"rights" to styles and titles

None of this body of law applies in the slightest way to other titles and styles, such as those of Prince and Highness.  These styles and titles were, until comparatively recently (1917), governed mostly by sometimes ambiguous custom.  They have remained part of the royal prerogative, and their conferral does not necessitate the formal advice of government.  They can be conferred in a variety of ways: "group conferrals" (a single document defining a limited or unlimited class of people who receive them) or conferrals on a single person. The forms can be letters patent or royal warrant.  The "group conferrals" are typically passed under the Great Seal, while the warrants ad personam are generally not (see below the section on diplomatics).

More importantly, the conferral of a title or style does not create any rights that can be defended in the courts.  For example, if the Sovereign issues an order by royal warrant which is not being carried out, there is no way for the courts to enforce its execution: it is up to the sovereign to do something about it (scolding the recipient of the royal warrant or removing him).  Also, once a title has been conferred, nothing but custom and tradition dictates that it cannot be taken away.  "The Lord giveth, The Lord taketh away".  It may seem inappopriate or unfair, but it is certainly not illegal.

what is a style?

Fundamentally, the conferral of a style is the sovereign's command to his subjects, and in particular to the officers in charge of ceremonial and precedence (e.g., the Earl Marshal, the Kings of Arms and other heralds, the Lord Chamberlain), that they should call and treat a given individual in a specified manner.  The command ought to be followed by dutiful subjects until such time as the sovereign changes his mind.

As to the form that this command can take, there is no rule, either for the conferral or the alteration, or the withdrawal of the style.  Formal written documents like letters patent and royal warrants are more or less formal evidence of the sovereign's will, but it is the sovereign's will that counts, however it may be manifested.  Of course, the traditional medieval forms of letters patent are the best-known and most familiar.

style vs. titles

In what follows, I will call "prince" a title, and the varieties {Serene Highness, Highness, Royal Highness} styles.  This distinction is purely for my convenience; it is not found in the documents which typically call either one a "style title or attribute".  In German, the latter styles and titles (Hoheit, Durchlaucht, Erlaucht) are called Prädikat,  and in French "traitement"; but the English language does not seem to make such a distinction.

1.2  Patterns and Customs: an overview

In the British royal family, the main styles and titles that have been in use are: (a) "prince", and (b) "Serene Highness" (HSH), "Highness" (HH) and "Royal Highness" (HRH).

The style of "prince", however, is not exclusive to the royal family.

What is a "prince"?

This style "is purely a courtesy and the holders of that title remain commoners until they are raised to the Peerage, the only exception being the eldest son of the Sovereign who at birth or, as in the case of Prince Charles, at his mother's accession to the Throne, immediately becomes Duke of Cornwall" (H. Austin Strutt, assistant under-secretary of state, in a memo dated June 17th, 1954 prepared for the Home Secretary; HO 286/50).  See also Garter's statement that "the title of Prince is (in this country) normally a courtesy title indicating certain degrees of relationship to the Sovereign and having no power to govern."

Who is a "prince"?

The short answer is that the style of "prince" has been used in Britain to denote descent from a sovereign.  Who, exactly, was so designated, has of course varied with time, although the answer is quite (though not absolutely) clear since 1917.  Most of this page documents the customs that prevailed until 1917.

The use of this courtesy style for sons of the Sovereign dates to Henry VII.  In the 17th century, in imitation of the French style, the phrase "prince of the Blood Royal" makes its appearance (e.g., the remark "So with us the term of Highness is given to a Prince of the Blood" (in notes to John Selden's Tracts, 1683 ed., p. 111).  As in France, the style of "prince" is not a title that is granted to an individual like a peerage, but rather a style or appellation customarily used to indicate the relationship to the sovereign, and membership in the royal house. 

The French style, however, was from the 16th c. extended to all existing male-line descendents of kings.  This was made possible in part by the uncontested position of the reigning dynasty, and the principle established in law as early as 1400 that agnates had a right of succession no matter how distant their kinship.  In contrast, the English style developped slowly, and was extended further and further over time as cases arose.  Only in 1917 was this movement  of extension reversed, and the style restricted.

Sons of the sovereign were styled princes since Tudor times; daughters were styled princesses from the Restoration.  Both appear to be styled Royal Highness from the Restoration.  What of more distant relatives?

The problem of styling grandchildren of the sovereign at the English court did not arise much during the Tudors and the Stuarts:

  • the only grandchildren of Henry VII born during his lifetime were the children of his daughter Margaret and James IV of Scotland, born outside the realm
  • Henry VIII had no grandchildren
  • Mary I and Elizabeth I had no children
  • The only grandchildren of James I born during his lifetime were the children of his daughter Elizabeth and the Elector Palatine, all born overseas, either Heidelberg or the Hague
    • only two of those children, Prince Rupert (on whom more below) and  Elizabeth, abbess of Herford, ever resided in Britain
  • The only child of Charles I married during his lifetime was Mary, whose only son William (future William III) was born in the Hague in 1650, a year after Charles I's death
Under the late Stuarts, the situation arose with the children of the duke of York (son of Charles I, brother of Charles II) and the children of Princess Anne (daughter of James II, sister of Mary II).  It appears that these grandchildren/nephews of sovereigns were titled
  • "Prince" for grandsons in male line,
  • "Lord" or "Prince" for grandsons in female line,
  • "Lady" for granddaughters in either male or female line,
  • and all were styled "Highness".
Thus, at this stage, the style of Royal Highness remained the prerogative of children of a sovereign.

With the Hanoverians, new situations arose.

George I had siblings who were not male-line descendants of a sovereign.  He also came to the throne a grandfather, since his eldest son had several children.  Under his reign, the practice was to title these children of an eldest son Princes and Princesses, and to give them the style of "Highness".   Consistent with this, from the reign of George II at least daughters of sovereigns start using special coronets to indicate their rank (whereas the warrant of 1662 regulating coronets for the royal family does not prescribe any coronets for females).

Under George II, there were again grandchildren, again all children of an eldest son.  But the practice changed, and they were styled "Royal Highness", in 1737. The practice was formalized by letters patent of 1864.

The grandchildren in male line of George III (other than children of the Prince of Wales) were called princes and princesses, but only styled Highness until 1830.  The change to Royal Highness seems to originate with William IV (see Garter's memorandum), and was formalized by the letters patent of 1864 (see PRO HO 45/8933/2, letter of C. B. Phipps to the Lord Chancellor, Jan 21, 1864: "The Queen is quite decided as to the propriety of extending the title of Royal Highness to all grandchildren, being the children of sons of a Sovereign. " [emphasis added].)

George III's reign also saw the first great-grandchildren of a sovereign in male line (the 2nd duke of Gloucester and his sister, who were also nephew and niece of a sovereign).  They were titled "Prince" and "Princess", but were only styled "Highness" until they received a formal grant of the style "Royal Highness" late in their life (1816, when he married George III's daughter).  It is not absolutely clear, however, whether the title of Prince was due to being great-grandson of George II or nephew of George III (as the latter, the 2nd duke of Gloucester was entitled to a special coronet distinguishing him from other dukes, by virtue of a warrant of 1662).

Nevertheless, a custom was clearly emerging: all male-line descendants were styled Prince/ss; children of the sovereign and the sovereign's eldest son were Royal Highnesses, all others were Highnesses.   The Letters Patent of 1864, which only deal directly with the style of Royal Highness, state the custom in the preamble: "Princes and Princesses of [the] Royal Family descended from and in lineal succession to the Crown as now established by law all bear the style and title of Highness".  The statement does not say exactly who is a prince or princess.  But an opinion of the Lord Chancellor in July 1878 (HO 144/44/86252) states that "there is not in my opinion any limit among those in Succession to the Throne within which the use of the style of Prince is to be confined, until some such limit is imposed by the Will of the Sovereign as the Fountain of all Honour".  Queen Victoria cared enough about this opinion that, to put an end to controversies, she sent a copy to Garter King of Arms.

Note that I said "male-line descendants", whereas the Letters Patent of 1864 say "descended from and in lineal succession to the Crown"  It is impossible to state what the custom might have been for female-line descendants, since the habit of marrying daughters abroad meant that no such descendants lived in Britain.  As of 1864, the first and only marriage of a prince or princess in Great Britain, that of the duke of Gloucester (great-grandson of George II) to the daughter of George III, occurred in 1816 and remained childless.
Under the last of the Hanoverians, Queen Victoria, the case of even more distant relations arose:

  1. great-grandchild in male line who was not also nephew of a sovereign (the 2nd duke of Cumberland, b. 1845)
  2. great-great-grandchildren in male line of a sovereign (the children of the former, from 1879)
  3. great-grandchildren in male line of a living sovereign (the children of the duke of York, from 1894)
The third case occasioned a formal decision in 1898 to grant the children of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales the style of "Royal Highness"; prior to that date, they appear to have been considered as Princes, and, according to the preamble of the Letters Patent of 1864, were entitled to the style of "Highness". The first two cases are somewhat obscured in practice by the fact that the individuals concerned mostly lived abroad (except for the 2d duke of Cumberland's sister, who, as a matter of fact, used the coronet of a British princess) and were also entitled to other styles: "Royal Highness" (members of the royal, albeit deposed after 1866, house of Hanover).   When the 2nd duke of Cumberland became head of the house of Hanover at the death of his father in 1878, the question of his status in Britain was raised, when Queen Victoria decided to give him the Garter and when it came time to formulate the royal consent to his impending marriage.  The Lord Chancellor's opinion quoted above no doubt dates from this time, and conforms to the Queen's understanding.  When his sister married two years later, she was styled "born Princess of Great Britain", as were later the individuals in case 2.

Another novelty arose under Queen Victoria.  Until the 19th century, princesses married abroad, so that the status of their issue was never a question for the British court.  Some of Queen Victoria's daughters, however, remained in Britain after their marriage, their husbands were naturalized, and their children were raised in Britain as British subjects.  This raised the question of the rank of children of daughters of a sovereign, a question that had not been posed since 1688.  The practice appeared to be to confer the style of "Royal Highness" on the husband of Victoria's daughter (when he was a foreigner, as with Alice, Helena, Beatrice; but this did not happen with the husband of Louise, who happened to be the only Briton among Victoria's sons-in-law), and the style of "Highness" on the children of the marriage being British born subjects.  The children of these marriages used their father's foreign title of Prince (Schleswig-Holstein, Battenberg; the duchess of Argyll had no children).  This pattern repeated itself with the only daughter of Edward VII, whose British husband received no style (but did receive a dukedom) and whose daughters were given the title of  "Princess" and the style of "Highness".  George V's only daughter Mary did not marry until after the letters patent of 1917. 

Those five cases are suggestive of a pattern, if not a custom.  What happened with more distant issue?  The only case with such issue residing in Britain were the Battenbergs, who were customarily given their German style of "Serene Highness", and the son of the duchess of Fife, who was probably entitled to more than that through his father, as seen below.

It would be interesting to know what style would have had in Britain the children of the 2nd duke of Albany (reigning duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha from 1906), great-grandchildren in male line of a sovereign, not descended from the prince of Wales. Their German styles were "Highness" (the eldest son of the reigning duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha) and "Serene Highness" (the other children of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha).  But the oldest was seven years old by the time World War I broke out, and had always lived in Germany, so it is unlikely that the question ever arose.  It is interesting to note, however, that the royal consent to the marriage of the 2nd duke of Albany calls him "born prince of Great Britain and Ireland", which he obviously was, as grandson of Queen Victoria: this statement of the obvious appears to assert in advance of the marriage the hereditary nature of the title.

Two more interesting cases arose before 1917, both a month apart in 1914:
  • the children of the duke and duchess of  Brunswick were the first great-great-great-grandchildren in male line of a sovereign.  The authorities in Brunswick asked London for an authoritative statement of their status in Britain, and although the Home Office believed them to be born princes of Great Britain and Highness, it was deemed simpler to provide the answer through letters patent.
  • Alastair Arthur of Connaught, born in 1914, the first instance of a great-grandchild of a sovereign in male line born in Britain who was not more closely related to a sovereign (the 2nd duke of Gloucester and his sister had an uncle king, the Cumberlands and the Saxe-Coburg-Gothas were born abroad).  It appears that he was thought to be a prince, and in March 1917 George V asked that a warrant be prepared formally granting him the style of Highness, but changed his mind in May, and the warrant was never issued, although several publications gave him the style until about 1924.  He happened to be the son of the duchess of Fife mentioned above.
Both cases (the Cumberlands and Alastair of Connaught) are discussed in more detail below.

1.3 Conclusion

The following conclusions can be drawn:
  • until 1917, the title of Prince was purely customary (except for the grant in 1905 to the daughters of the Princess Royal, and in 1914 to the children of the duke and duchess of Brunswick)
  • sons of the sovereign were princes and RH from the 17th c. (formalized in 1864 and 1917)
  • daughters of the sovereign were princesses from the Restoration, RH from George I
  • sons of the eldest son of the Sovereign were Prince and H from George I, RH from 1737
  • daughters of the eldest son of the Sovereign were Princess under George I, Lady under George II, Princess thereafter; H from George I, RH from 1737
  • other grandsons of the sovereign (in male line) were Prince from George I, H from Charles II, RH after 1830 (formalized in 1864 and 1917)
  • other granddaughters of the sovereign (in male line) were Princess and H under George I and from George III, RH after 1830 (formalized in 1864 and 1917)
  • under Victoria, a pattern developped to make British children of daughters of the sovereign "Prince" and "Highness" (grants ad personam 1867, 1887, 1905; practice ended after 1917); they had been H under James II
  • great-grandchildren of the sovereign who were children of the eldest son of any Prince of Wales were "Prince/ss" and "Royal Highness" (formal grant in 1898; restricted to the eldest living son of the eldest son of the, rather than any, Prince of Wales in 1917; extended again to the children of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales in 2012)
  • great-grandchildren of the sovereign (in male line) were Prince/ss and H except in the previous case (preamble of the Letters Patent of 1864; first instance under George III; ended in 1917)
  • more distant descendants of the sovereign (in male line) were Prince/ss and H (preamble of the Letters Patent of 1864; ended in 1917)

1.4 The letters patent of 1864 and 1917

The letters patent of 1864 and 1917 are the two main general dispositions concerning styles and titles in the royal family.  They are, however, of a different nature:

  • the letters patent of 1864 have the effect of
    • confirming, and making explicit, what was hitherto a century-old custom, namely, giving the style of "Royal Highness" to the children of a sovereign and to the children of sons of a sovereign.
      • It said nothing about the title of prince, except to implicitly confirm that the same people received it. 
      • It also said nothing, either positive or negative, about usage for other individuals.  However, subsequent letters patent (1867, 1886, 1905) refer in their preamble to the letters of 1864 as "defining and limiting" the style of Royal Highness.
  • the letters patent of 1917 have the effect of
    • confirming the dispositions of the letters of 1864,
    • restricting (although they are not cited in the preamble) the dispositions of the letters of 1898 to the eldest living son (since 2012 the children) of the eldest son of the prince of Wales, and
    • denying the title of prince and the styles of royal highness, highness or serene highness to anyone else, except those already granted by letters patent and remaining unrevoked
Thus, the letters of 1864 granted or confirmed certain styles for certain people without explicitly confirming or denying them for the rest, while the letters of 1917 explicitly deny the styles to those who are not explicitly entitled to them.  The letters of 1917 are thus much more complete and precise.

Since the letters of 1917 denied certain styles to certain people, what happened to those who already had them at the time they were passed?  Many of these titles had been granted by royal warrant rather than letters patent, but it is doubtful that the distinction is meaningful here.  The last holder of a British style of Highness died in 2005.

Prince of what?

When we speak of the title of Prince, is there a territorial designation attached to it?  Not necessarily.  In the letters patent and warrants that define or grant the title, it is described as a "titular dignity prefixed to their respective Christian names", a formulation that does not allow for the addition of any territorial designation when the title is properly used.

The only grant that makes any mention of a territorial designation before 1957 is that of 1914 (for the children of the duke and duchess of Brunswick), which adds a territorial designation ("of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland") to an existing title of prince, whereas their father and aunts had been declared "born prince/ss of Great Britain and Ireland" before.  It is clear, however, from the documents concerning this warrant, that this designation was explanatory in nature, since the warrant was issued in response to a question from the State Minister of Brunswick. Moreover, the Home Office thought he was already a Prince and "that properly his designation is "a Prince of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland" (more fully "a Prince of the Royal Family of etc" or "a Prince of the Blood Royal of etc", but these seem too long, and the shorter designation has the sanction of precedent)." Thus, the unusual phrase is not only explanatory, but merely a shorthand.

Actual practice shows little consistency in the matter. The expression "prince of Great Britain" appears under the Hanoverians (e.g., the styles of the prince of Wales in 1714, 1729, 1751) and that of "Prince of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland" under Victoria and George V (e.g., the styles of the prince of Wales in 1841 and 1911). Yet the 2nd duke of Albany is called "born prince of Great Britain and Ireland" in the royal consent to his marriage. Princess Frederica of Hanover is called "princess of Great Britain and Ireland", while the members of the next generation of Cumberlands (1900-13) are called "born prince(ss) of Great Britain and Ireland".  But Ernst August, in 1951, is called "prince of Great Britain". Army lists of the 1910s and 1920s list Prince Henry W.F.A. (son of the king, future duke of Gloucester) as "Prince of Great Britain".

The letters patent of Nov. 30, 1917, which grant the title of prince explicitly to children of a sovereign and children of sons of a sovereign, specify no territorial designation.

The only formal grant posterior to the letters patent of 1917 (to the duke of Edinburgh in 1957) specifies "of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland".  This, however, is a rather unique instance of a conferral on someone who was not directly in the line of succession (although he was a descendant of Queen Victoria).  Initially, Elizabeth II had proposed to have him declared "Prince of the Commonwealth", but the government opposed the idea.  It was later decided to make him a "Prince of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and her other Realms and Territories", but the last six words were ultimately dropped. Nothing can be concluded from this single grant about any putative territorial designation for the title of prince as conferred by the general rules laid down in 1917.

2  Practice and Customs from 1660 to 1917

The Stuarts

The only interesting cases are

  • the children of the duke of York, nephews and nieces of Charles II, before the accession of their father as James II; and
  • the children of the Princess Anne of Denmark by her husband Prince George of Denmark, all of whom died before her accession as Queen Anne on March 8, 1702. Before 1688 they were grandchildren of the king (in female line), after 1688 they were nephews/nieces of the sovereign.
Information on their styles can be found in a couple sources:
  • their "deposita", i.e., the inscriptions placed on their coffins at burial in Westminster Abbey (see more on the deposita of the British royal family).  (from  John Dart: Westmonasterium. London, 1742. Vol. 2, p. 51).  An asterisk below indicates that Dart cites the burial but does not provide the text of the depositum.
  • in the register of burials at Westminster, (from Collectanea topographica et genealogica, London, J.B. Nichols and Son, printers, 1834-43; vol. 7 and vol. 8)
  • Garter's memorandum of the 1850s or early 1860s

The Children of the duke of York (James II)

What follows is the list of the children of James as duke of York (from 1660 to 1682), with the corresponding entry in the register of burials and the text of the depositum when applicable and available:
  1. Charles, duke of Cambridge, b. Oct 22/Nov 1, 1660, died May 5/15 1661
    • May 6: Charles, Duke of Cambridge, son to the Duke of York
    • Depositum Celsissimi Principis Caroli Ducis Cantabrigiæ, filii primogeniti Jacobi Ducis Eboracensis: qui natus 22 die Octobris 1660. Obiit in Aula Whitehall quinto die Maii MDCLXI.

  2. Mary (later Queen Mary), b. Apr 30/May 9, 1662

  3. James, duke of Cambridge, b. Jul 12/22 1663, d. June 20/30, 1667
    • June 26: The Duke of Cambridge, eldst son to the Duke of Yorke
    • Depositum Illustrissimi Principis Jacobis Ducis Cantabrigiæ, &c. filii secundo-geniti & Herædis Potentissimi Principis Jacobi Ducis Eboraci, qui in Aula Regia Richmondiæ vicesimo die Junii in Domino obdormivit. Ætatis suæ Quarto; Annoq; Domini MDCLXVII.

  4. Anne (later Queen Anne), b. Feb 6/16, 1665

  5. Charles, duke of Kendall, b. Jul 4/14 1666, d. May 22/June 1, 1667
    • May 30: the Duke of Kendall, 2d son to ye Duke of York
    • Depositum Illustrissimi Principis Carolis Ducis Condaliæ [Dart: Candaliæ] &c. filii tertio geniti Potentissimi Principis Jacobi Ducis Eboraci, qui in Aula Regia sancti Jacobi dicta, vicesimo secundo die Maij in Domino obdormivit, vix annum habens, Anno Domini MDCLXVII.

  6. Edgar, duke of Cambridge, b. Sep 14/24 1667, d. June 8/18, 1671
    • June 12: Edgar, Duke of Cambridge
    • Depositum Illustrissimi Principis Edgari Ducis Cantabrigiæ &c. filii quarto geniti & Herædis Potentissimi Principis Jacobi Ducis Eboraci, qui in Aula Regia Richmondiæ, 8. die Junii in Domino obdormivit, ætatis suæ quarto, Anno Dom. MDCLXXI.

  7. Henrietta b. Jan 13/23, d. Nov 15/25, 1669
    • Nov. 9: The Lady Henrietta, d. to the D.k of York
    • Depositum Illustrissimæ Dominæ Henriettæ filiæ natu-tertiæ Potentissimi Principis Jacobi Ducis Eboraci, quæ in Aula Regia sancti Jacobi dicta, decimo quinto die mensis Novembris in Domino obdormivit decem circiter mensium ætatis, Anno Domini MDCLXIX.

  8. Catherine b. Feb. 9/19, d. Dec 5/15 1671
    • Dec. 8: The Lady Kath. ye Dk of York's youngst dau.r
    • Depositum Illustrissimæ Dominæ Catherinæ filiæ tertio-genitæ Potentissimi Principis Jacobi Ducis Eboraci, quæ in Aula Regia sancti Jacobi dicta, in Domino obdormivit, vix decem menses habens, quinto die Decembris, Anno a Christo nato, MDCLXXI.

  9. Katherine Laura b. Jan 10, 1675, d. Oct 3/13 1675
    • Oct. 5: Catherine Laura, a young child of ye Dk of York's
    • Depositum Illustrissimæ Dominæ Katherinæ Lauræ ex secundis nuptiis filiæ primo-genitæ Potentissimi Principis Jacobi Ducis Eboraci, quæ in Aula Regia Sti. Jacobi dicta tertia die Octobris obdormivit, vix novem menses habens, Anno Dom. MDCLXXV.

  10. Charles, duke of Cambridge, b. Nov 7/17, 1677, d. Dec 12/22, 1677
    • Dec. 13: The Dk of Cambridge
    • <*>
  11. Isabella, b. Aug 28/Sep 7, 1676, d. Mar 2/12 1680
    • Mar. 4: The Lady Isabella, da. to the Duke of Yorke
    • Depositum Illustrissimæ Dominæ Isabellæ filiæ septimogenitæ Potentissimi Principis Jacobi Ducis Eboraci, &c. & conjuge Maria D'Este quæ in Aula Regia Sti. Jacobi dicta secundo die Martii sexcentessimo octogessimo in Domino obdormivit, ætatis suæ anno currente quinto, Anno Dom. MDCLXXX.

  12. Charlotta Maria, b. Aug 15/25, d. Oct 16/26, 1682
    • Octob. 8: The Lady Charlotte Marie, dau.r to the Dk of Yorke
    • <*>

  13. James Francis Edward  b. June 10/20, 1688

  14. Louisa Maria Theresia, b. June 28, 1692

The children of Princess Anne (Queen Anne)

What follows is the same list for the children of Princess Anne (from 1684 to 1700)

  1. a daughter, stillborn May 12/22, 1684
    • <>
    • Hic jacet Filia primogenita Illustrissimi Georgii & Annæ, Daniæ principis, illustrissimi Jacobi Eboraci Ducis neptis, nata mortua die Maij 12. MDCLXXXIIII

  2. Lady Mary, b. June 2/12, 1685, died Feb. 8/18, 1687
    • 10 Feb 1686-7: the Lady Mary, eldest dau[]r to their Royall Highnesses Prince George and the Princess Ann of Denmark.
    • Depositum Illustrissimæ Dominæ Mariæ, Filiæ natu secundæ Illustrissimi Principis Georgii Daniæ & Norvegiæ principis hæreditarij &c. Ex illustrissima Anna conjuge Charissima Filia secunda serenissimi Principis, Jacobi Magnæ Britanniæ Regis &c. Nata Junij 2. MDCLXXXV Obiit Feb. 8 Ætatis suæ secundo, Annoq: Dom. MDCLXXXVI

  3. Lady Anne Sophie, b. May 12/22 1686, died Feb. 2/12, 1687
    • 4 Feb 1686-7: the Lady Anne Sophie, youngest dau[]r to their Royall Highnesses Prince George and the Princess Ann of Denmark.
    • Anna Sophia, filia natu tertia secundæ Illustrissimi Principis Georgii Daniæ & Norvegiæ principis hæreditarij &c. Ex illustrissima Anna conjuge Charissima Filia secunda serenissimi Principis, Jacobi Magnæ Britanniæ Regis &c. Nata Maij 12. obiit die Purificationis B. M. Virginis, Anno Dom. MDCLXXXVI Ætatis Primo.

  4. a male foetus, Oct 22/Nov 1, 1687
    • 22 Oct 1687: The Princess Ann's child, a chrissome, bu[]d in ye vault
    • Depositum Foetus Masculi Abortivi, Illustrissimi Illustrissimi Principis Georgii Daniæ & Norvegiæ principis hæreditarij &c. Ex illustrissima Anna conjuge Charissima Filia secunda serenissimi Principis, Jacobi Magnæ Britanniæ Reg. &c. Oct. 22 An. Dom. MDCLXXXVII.

  5. William, duke of Gloucester, died July 30/Aug 10, 1700
    • Friday 9 Aug 1700: His Royall Highness Will[iam] Duke of Gloucest[e]r, the only son of their Royall Highnesses Prince George and the Princess Ann of Denmark, was bur[ie]d in the royall vault on the south side of H[enry] 7 Ch[apel].
    • Depositum Illustrissimi Principis Gulielmi Ducis Gloucestriæ Nobilissimi Ordinis Aureæ Periscelidis Equitis Filii unici Celcissimæ Annæ, per Inclytissimum Principem Georgium Daniæ hæreditarum: obiit in Castro Regali apud Windsor, xxx Die Julij MDCC Anno Ætatis XII ineunte.

  6. Lady Mary, born October 1690, died soon after, buried Oct 14
    • 14 Oct 1690: The Lady Mary, da. of their Royall Highnesses Prince George and the Princess Ann of Denmark.
    •   <*>

  7. George, born Apr 17/27, 1692, died the same day after baptism
    • 18 Apr 1692: L[or]d George, s[on] to Prince and Princess of Denmark.
    •   <*>

  8. stillborn daughter March 23/Apr 2, 1693
    • 24 Mar 1692-3: A still born child of Prince George's
    •   <*>

William, duke of Gloucester (1689-1700)

William, duke of Gloucester, was the only son of Princess Anne who survived beyond infancy.  He was born on July 24, 1689 and baptized on July 27, at which time he was declared Duke of Gloucester (letters patent were never issued).  After the death of Queen  Mary in 1694, Princess Anne became (under the terms of the Bill of Rights of 1689) heiress apparent to king William III, and the duke Gloucester was "heir apparent to the heir apparent", the equivalent to the eldest son of a prince of Wales under normal circumstances.  But, strictly speaking, he was only the grandson in female line of a sovereign, residing in Britain, a position for which there was no real precedent.  He was thus second in line to the throne, but also (since William was unlikely to remarry and have children) the last: his death in 1700 prompted Parliament to pass the Act of Settlement in 1701 to extend the order of succession beyond Anne.

We are better informed on his styles since he lived long enough to receive honors (Francis Sandford: A Genealogical History ... London, 1708, p. 861-64):
  • He was installed as Knight of the Garter on July 24, 1696, following dispensation granted by warrant of April 8, 1696; the same warrant directed that he should be entered in the registers of the Order by the name of William, son to the Princess Anne, by Prince George of Denmark, and gave him as mark of difference a label of three points argent bearing the red cross of England,  and an inescutcheon  with the arms of Denmark. 
  • The titles engraved on his plate in the knights' stalls at Windsor were "Du tres haut, Tres Puissant, & Tres Illustre Prince GUILLAUME, Fils de la Princesse ANNE, par le Prince George de Danemark, Installe au Chateau de Windesore le xxive jour de Juillet, l'an MDCXCVI." 
  • The styles proclaimed at his burial by Garter King of Arms were: "the most Illustrious Prince, William, Duke of Glocester, Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, Only Son of the High and Mighty Princess Anne, by His Royal Highness Prince George of Denmark." 
As far as "Highness" vs. "Royal Highness" is concerned, the texts of the time show no consistent pattern.  It is interesting to note that Sandford's continuator, Samuel Stebbing, who was Somerset Herald and presumably paid attention to such matters, systematically calls the duke of Gloucester "His Highness".  Garter's memorandum also states that the public announcements on his illness and death, the Earl Marshal's orders for the funeral, and the ceremonial all style him Highness. 

George I

When George I acceded in 1714, he had one son, married with children, and one daughter, married since 1706 to the king of Prussia.  He also had two brothers, Maximilian Wilhelm (1666-1726), who lived in Austria, and Ernst August (1674-1728) who was created duke of York on July 14, 1716 (n.s.).  The duke of York was styled Highness.

George I's only son (the future George II) was created prince of Wales on Sep. 27, 1714 (o.s.). This prince of Wales had one son and three daughters when George I succeeded, and this was the first instance of a reigning sovereign with grandchildren in the male line since Edward III.  However, these grandchildren were all children of a sovereign's eldest son, so offer no precedebnts for other granbdchildren of a sovereign.

George I's grandchildren were:

  • Frederick Lewis (Jan 31 1707 n.s. -Mar 20 1751 n.s.), cr. duke of Edinburgh in 1726
  • George William (Nov 13 1717 n.s. - Feb 17 1718 n.s.)
  • William Augustus of Wales (Apr 26 1721n.s. - Oct 31 1765), cr. duke of Cumberland in 1726, who never married;
  • Anne (Feb 11 1709-Jan 12 1759), created Princess Royal on Aug 30, 1727, who married the prince of Orange in 1734;
  • Amelia (Jul 10 1711- Oct 31 1786);
  • Caroline Elizabeth (1713-Dec 28 1757);
  • Mary (Mar 5 1723 n.s. - Jan 14 1772) who married the future landgrave of Hesse-Cassel in 1740;
  • Louisa (Dec 18 1724 n.s. - Dec 19 1751 n.s.) who married the future king of Denmark in 1743.

During the reign of George I, it appears that royal grandchildren, even though children of the Prince of Wales, were styled princes and princesses but received the attribute of "Highness" rather than "Royal Highness".   See for example the gazetting of the creation of his two grandsons as dukes on July 15/26, 1726 (London Gazette 6494):

"His Majesty has been pleased to create his Highness Prince Frederick, a Baron, Viscount, Earl, Marquess, and Duke of the Kingdom of Great Britain, by the Names Stiles and Titles of Baron of Snaudon in the County of Caernarvon, Viscount of Lanceston in the County of Cornwall, Earl of Eltham in the County of Kent, Marquess of the Isle of Wight and Duke of Edinburgh. His Majesty has been pleased to create his Highness Prince William, a Baron, Viscount, Earl, Marquess, and Duke of the Kingdom of Great Britain, by the Names Stiles and Titles of Baron of the Isle of Alderney, Viscount of Trematon in the County of Cornwall, Earl of Kinnington in the county of Surrey, Marquess of Berkhamstead in the County of Hertford, and Duke of Cumberland." 

Garter's memorandum states that George William was buried with the style of Highness.

A statement of the current practice appears in Chamberlayne's Magnae Britanniae Notitia (e.g., 1726 edition, p. 61):

"The daughters of England are stiled Princesses, the Eldest of which to violate unmarried is High-Treason at this Day. To all the King's children belong the Title of Royal Highness [...] All the King's Sons, Grandsons, Brothers, Uncles, and  Nephews of the King, are by Stat. 3 Hen VIII to precede other in England.  it is true, the Word Grandson is not there in terminis, but it is understood (as Sir Edward Coke holds) by Nephew, which in Latin being Nepos, signifies also, and chiefly, a Grandson."

An example of the styles of the Royal Family can be found in An Exact List of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, 1719.  The list of members of the House of Lords begins as follows :

His Royal Highness George Augustus (Prince of Great Britain, Electoral Prince of Brunswick-Lunenburgh, Duke of Cornwall and Rothesaye, Duke and Marquis of Cambridge, Earl of Milford-Haven, and of Carreck, Viscount Northallerton, Baron of Tewkesbury, and of Renfrew, Lord of the Isles, and Steward of Scotland, and Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter,) Prince of Wales, and Earl of Chester. P.C.
His Royal Highness Earnest Augustus (Prince of Brunswick-Lunenburgh, Bishop of Osnabrugh), Duke of York and Albany, and Earl of Ulster.
His Highness Prince Frederick (eldest son of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales) Duke of Gloucester.

Other examples of contemporary usage (although less authoritative): Basil Kennett's Romae antiquae notitia (London, 1726) is dedicated to "His Highness the duke of Gloucester", Saint John Fisher's Practical discourse upon private prayer (London, 1719) is dedicated to "His Highness Princess Anne."  On the other hand, the Historical Register (1717, p. 90; 1727, p. 55) uses the phrase "His Royal Highness Prince Frederick", but this seems to be an exception.

George II

When George II acceded in 1727 he had two sons and five daughters, none married, but in the course of his reign he would see nine grandchildren, all born to his son Frederick Lewis, cr. prince of Wales in 1729 (his other son, the duke of Cumberland, never married):

  • George William Frederick (June 4 1738 n.s. - Jan 29 1820), duke of Edinburgh in 1751, cr. P of Wales 1751, later George III
  • Edward Augustus (Mar 25 1739 n.s.- Sep 17 1767), Duke of York and Albany in 1760
  • William Henry (Nov 25 1743 n.s.- Aug 25 1805), Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh in 1764
  • Henry Frederick (Nov 7 1745 n.s.- Sep 18 1790), Duke of Cumberland and Strathearn in 1766
  • Frederick William (May 24 1750 n.s. - Dec 29 1765)
  • Augusta (Dec 8 1737 n.s. - Mar 23 1813), married the hereditary prince (later duke) of Brunswick in 1764
    • one of her daughters, Caroline, married in 1795 the Prince of Wales
  • Elizabeth Caroline (Jan 10 1741 n.s. - Sep 4 1759)
  • Louisa Anne (Mar 19 1749-May 13 1768)
  • Caroline Matilda (Jul 22 1751n.s. - May 10 1775), married the king of Denmark in 1766

Of these, the only one to have any issue was the duke of Gloucester, who had William Frederick, later 2nd duke of Gloucester, and Sophia Mathilda. As the first great-grandchildren of a sovereign in male line they will be examined in detail below.

Once again, from 1738 there were grandchildren of the sovereign in male line, but they were all children of the Prince of Wales.  However, in contrast with the preceding reign, it appears that these grandchildren were styled royal highnesses, although the daughters were not Princesses.   This was a decision of the Prince of Wales, according to Garter's memorandum

For further evidence, see the announcement of the creation of Edward Augustus as duke of York and Albany:

"Whitehall, April 1. The King has been pleased to grant unto His Majesty's dearly beloved Grandson Prince Edward Augustus, and to the Heirs Male of his Royal Highness, the Dignities of Duke of the Kingdom of Great Britain, and of Earl of the Kingdom of Ireland, by the Names, Stiles and Titles of Duke of York and of Albany in the said Kingdom of Great Britain, and of Earl of Ulster in the said Kingdom of Ireland" (London  Gazette 9981, March 29, 1760). 

See likewise the entry in the register of burials at St. Peter's, Westminster (Harleian Society Publications, vol. 10, p. 395):

"Her Royal Highness Princess Elizabeth Caroline, 2d daughter of his late Royal Highness Frederick Prince of Wales".

George III

George III acceded in 1760, unmarried. His brothers were sons of an eldest son of king. He married in 1761 and had a number of children, including the following sons:

  • George Augustus Frederick (1762-1830), prince of Wales, later George IV
    • Charlotte (1796-1817)
      ~ 1816 Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
  • Frederick Augustus (1763-1827), duke of York and Albany in 1784, married without issue
  • William Henry (1765-1837), duke of Clarence and St. Andrews in 1789, later William IV
    • two daughters who died in infancy
  • Edward Augustus (1767-1820), duke of Kent and Strathearn in 1799
    • Queen Victoria
  • Ernest Augustus (1771-1851), duke of Cumberland and Teviotdale in 1799, later Ernst August I of Hanover
    • one son
      • further issue (see below)
  • Augustus Frederick (1773-1843), duke of Sussex in 1801
  • Adolphus Frederick (1774-1850), duke of Cambridge in 1801
    • George, 2nd duke of Cambridge (1819-1904)
    • Augusta (1822-1916)
      ~ 1843 grand-duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
    • Mary Adelaide (1833-1897)
      ~ 1866 Francis, duke of Teck [H 1887]

George III had many sons, but few grandchildren in male line: two grandsons and three granddaughters.  Of his sons, the duke of York married in 1791 but had no issue, the prince of Wales married in 1795 and had only one daughter, princess Charlotte; the duke of Cumberland married in 1815 and his only son Georg was born in Berlin in May 1819, seven months before the death of George III.   Sussex married in contravention to the Royal Marriages Act. The dukes of Clarence, Kent, and Cambridge all married in 1818, in a rush to produce heirs after the untimely death of Charlotte of Wales.  Kent had one daughter who became Queen Victoria. Clarence had two daughters who died in infancy.  Only the duke of Cambridge produced a son, born in Hanover in March 1819, a few months before the death of George III.   Cambridge also had two daughters.

George III's grandchildren, even after his death (whereby they became nephews and nieces of the sovereign) were styled Highness: examples include the announcement of the death of Princess Elizabeth, daughter of the duke of Clarence, in 1821; the act in 1825 providing an annual sum for the support of Prince George Frederic of Cumberland, the act of the same year providing a sum for the support of Princess Alexandrina Victoria of Kent (later Queen Victoria).

After 1830, however, the grandchildren of George III were styled Royal Highness.  This began at the funeral of George IV, where Prince George of Cambridge was so styled by command of the new king.  Likewise, the Act of the same year providing for a regency in case Victoria should accede as a minor styles her Royal Highness.  At the election of Princes George of Cambridge and George Frederic of Cumberland to the Order of the Garter in 1835, the king again directed that they be so styled. 

Queen Victoria continued this custom. The Act of Parliament settling an annuity for Augusta of Cambridge on her marriage to the grand-duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz in 1843 (6 & 7 Vict. c 25) styles her a Princess and a Royal Highness.  Her sister, Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge, was since 1843 the only unmarried British princess other than Queen Victoria's daughters.  In a message to the House of Commons in 1850 asking for the settlement of an annuity for her, she is styled by the Queen Princess and Royal Highness. Both she and her brother the duke of Cambridge are styled Prince and Royal Highness in the Act (13 & 14 Vic c. 77). Princess Mary of Cambridge was finally married in 1866 to the 1st duke of Teck, who was created a Highness in 1887 and took up residence in Britain.  Their eldest son the 2nd duke of Teck was created a Highness in 1911. 

It was Queen Victoria's desire to formally extend the style to all grandchildren of the sovereign in male line that led to the Letters Patent of 1864 (see C. B. Phipps' letter to the Lord Chancellor of Jan 21, 1864, in National Archives, HO 45/8933/2: "The Queen is quite decided as to the propriety of extending the title of Royal Highness to all grandchildren, being the children of sons of a Sovereign.")

The next generation in male line from George III is even sparser, since the second duke of Cambridge, grandson of George III, married in contravention to the Royal Marriages Act and died in 1904.  George III's only other grandson in male line, the duke of Cumberland, had male issue that continues to this day. As it is the second instance of great-grandchildren of a sovereign in male line (after the 2nd duke of Gloucester, born 1776) it will be examined below.

Of the daughters of George III:

  • Charlotte Augusta Matilda (1766-1828), Princess Royal, married in 1797 the hereditary prince (later duke, still later king) of Wurttemberg
  • Augusta Sophia (1768-1840) never married
  • Elizabeth (1770-1840) married in 1818 the landgrave of Hesse-Homburg
  • Mary (1776-1857) married in 1816 her cousin the 2nd duke of Gloucester, who was created HRH on that occasion; they had no issue
  • Sophia (1777-1848) never married
  • Amelia (1783-1810) never married
so there were no grandchildren of George III in female line who resided in the UK.

The 2nd Duke of Gloucester

The only grandson of George I in male line to have any issue (aside from George III) was William Henry (Nov 14/25, 1743 - Aug 25, 1805).  He was created duke of Gloucester on Nov. 17 or 19, 1764.  About that time, he fell in love with Maria Waldegrave (1736-1807), widow of the 2nd earl Waldegrave.  She was the daughter of Sir Edward Walpole (a younger son of the Prime Minister) and Dorothy Clement or Clements, who were not married.  She was thus not only of relatively modest origin (certainly not royal), but also a bastard child.  Her family connections nevertheless let her enter society and marry rather successfully the earl Waldegrave, who had been lord of the bedchamber of George II and governor of the future George III.  He died of smallpox in 1763 and left her widowed with three daughters.  Prince William Henry married her secretly on Sept. 6, 1766.  But he did not reveal the marriage; instead, she took the role of official mistress, and even received a pension from George III on the Irish revenues.  But, after the duke of Cumberland's marriage became public in 1771, Gloucester revealed his own to his brother in 1772.  George III ordered an inquiry into the validity of the marriage, which was certified as valid a few days before the birth of their first child, Sophia Mathilda, on May 29, 1773. Two other children followed: Caroline Augusta Maria (June 24 1774- March 1775) and William Frederick on Jan 15, 1776 in Rome.  By 1777 George III and his brother were reconciled and legislation to provide for the family was passed in 1778 (18 Geo III c. 31).  In the act, the two surviving children of the duke of Gloucester are called "his Highness Prince William Frederick, the son of his said Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester" and his sister "her Highness Princess Sophia Matilda, the daughter of his said Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester".

The marriages of Cumberland and Gloucester prompted the passage of the Royal Marriages Act in 1776, which for the first time placed restrictions on princes' ability to marry without consent.  But, as the marriages had taken place before and were technically valid in English law, there was no way to deny the issue their status in the British royal family.  Matters were different in Hanover, where rules about unequal marriages certainly precluded the marriage of a Hanoverian dynast with the illegitimate daughter of a member of the gentry from being admitted as valid for succession purposes.  Gloucester's marriage was unequal, and his issue was in principle excluded from the dynasty.  In fact, the duke of Gloucesters's two children were not listed in the genealogical listing of the electoral house of Hanover in the Königlicher Groß-Britannischer und Kurfürstlicher Braunschweig-Lüneburgscher Staats-Kalender, although he was.  Hermann Schulze (Hausgesetze, vol. 1, p. 408) states that William Frederick was treated in Germany as a British prince but not as an agnate of the house of Brunswick, and cites Carl Friedrich Häberlin:  Staats-Archiv, vol. 1 [1796], p. 91 and Karl Friedrich Eichhorn: Über die Ehe des Herzogs von Sussex p. 170.  He also notes the significant fact that the William Frederick, as 2nd duke of Gloucester, was not invited to sign the family compact of the house of Brunswick-Luneburg in 1831 when all other agnates residing in Britain did so.  Since family compacts needed the consent of all agnates, this is clear evidence that William Frederick was not considered an agnate of the house of Brunswick-Luneburg.

In Britain, the children of the 1st duke of Gloucester were consistently given the rank of prince and the style of Highness:
  • Annual Register 1789, p. 250;
  • London Gazette13685, Jul. 15, 1794, p. 728, account of his election as Knight of the Garter: "Prince William Frederick (now out of the Kingdom), son of his Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester";
  • Annual Register 1794, p. 323, Chron. p. 68; 
  • Gentleman's Magazine 1794 i. 375;
  • London Gazette13755 Feb. 24, 1795, p. 187: "His Highness Prince William, of the 115th Foot, to be major-general in the army"). 
  • Court and City Register 1795, p. 144: "His Highness Prince William of Gloucester";
  • Annual Register 1799 chron. appendix p. 145;
  • Annual Register 1806 Chron. p. 173;
  • Journal of the House of Lords (1806): account of his reception when he succeeded his father: "His Highness the Duke of Gloucester"
A few exceptions: the Annual Register on his admission to the degree of MA at Cambridge in 1790 (p. 210): "his royal highness prince William Frederick".

A brief account of the 2nd duke of Gloucester's unremarkable career:
MA Canta 1790, LLD 1796, chancellor of the university Mar 26, 1811, installed June 29.  Colonel in the 1st regt Foot Guards 11 Mar 1789. Full colonel Feb 8, 1794, command of the 115th Foot May 3, major-general Feb 16, 1795 [recte Feb 27], colonel of the 6th ret of foot 8 Nov. Lt General Nov 13, 1799. Colonel of the 3d regt foot guards May 31, 1806, general April 25, 1808; field marshal May 1816.  Elected KG July 16, 1794, received insigns July 27, installed May 29, 1801.  PC Feb 1, 1806. GCB Apr 12, 1815. GCH Aug 12, 1815. Ranger of Bagshot Walk 1798, governor Portsmouth 1827.
William Frederick (1776-1834), the 2nd duke of Gloucester, as only male agnate in Britain aside from the brothers of George III, was long kept in reserve while Princess Charlotte, only daughter of the Prince Regent and heir presumptive, decided whom to marry.  Her marriage to prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha allowed the duke to marry his long-time love, George III's daughter Mary (1776-1857), on July 22, 1816.  He and his sister received the style of Royal Highness by warrant of July 22, 1816.

Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria was the first British sovereign to see the birth of a great-grandchild.

  • Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (1841-1910) later Edward VII
    ~ Alexandra of Denmark
    • Albert Victor (1864-92) duke of Clarence and Avondale in 1890
    • George (1864-1936), duke of York in 1892, Prince of Wales in 1901, later George V
      ~ Mary of Teck
      • Edward of York (1894-1972), Prince of Wales 1910, later Edward VIII (1936)
      • Albert of York (1895-1932), duke of York 1920, later George VI
      • Henry of York (1900-1972), duke of Gloucester 1928
      • George of York (1902-42), duke of Kent 1934
      • John of Wales (1905-19)
      • Mary of York (1895-1965), Princess Royal 1932, viscountess Lascelles 1922, countess of Harewood 1929
    • Louise of Wales (1867-1931),  duchess of Fife 1889, Princess Royal 1905
      ~ 1889 Alexander Duff, cr duke of Fife 1889 (1849-1912)
      • Alexandra (1891-1959), [H 1905] duchess of Fife 1912 ~ 1913 Arthur, Prince of Connaught
      • Maud (1893-1945) [H 1905]
    • Victoria of Wales (1868-1935)
    • Maud of Wales (1869-1938), Princess Carl of Denmark 1895, queen of Norway 1905
  • Alfred (1844-1900), duke of Edinburgh 1866, reigning duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha 1893
    • Alfred (1874-99)
    • Marie
    • Victoria Melita
    • Alexandra
    • Beatrice
  • Arthur (1850-1942), duke of Connaught and Strathearn 1874
    • Arthur (1883-1938)
      • Alastair Arthur (1914-43), 2nd duke of Connaught
    • Margaret (1882-1920), Crown Princess of Sweden 1905
    • Patricia (1886-1974), Lady Patricia Ramsay 1919
      ~ 1919 Sir Alexander Ramsay
      • Alexander Ramsay (1919-2000)
  • Leopold (1853-84), duke of Albany 1881
    • Charles Edward (1884-1954), 2nd duke of Albany, reigning duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha 1900-1918
      • Johann Leopold (1906-72)
      • Hubertus (1909-43)
      • Friedrich Josias (1918-98)
      • Sibylla (1917-72)
      • Caroline Mathilde (1912-83)
    • Alice (1883-1981), Princess Alexander of Teck 1904, countess of Athlone 1917
  • Victoria (1840-1901), Princess Royal, Crown Princess of Prussia 1858, Crown Princess of Germany 1871, Empress 1888, "Empress Frederick" 1888
  • Alice (1843-78), princess of Hesse 1862, grand-duchess of Hesse 1877
    ~ 1862 Prince Louis of Hesse [RH 1862]
  • Helena (1846-1923), Princess Christian of Schleswig-Holstein 1866, Princess Christian (?) 1917
    ~ 1866 Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein [RH 1866]
    • Christian Victor (1867-1900) [H 1867]
    • Albert (1869-1931) [H 1867]
    • Helena Victoria (1870-1948) [H 1867]
    • Louise Marie (1872-1956) [H 1867]
  • Louise (1848-1939), marchioness of Lorne 1871, duchess of Argyll 1900
    ~ 1871 John, duke of Argyll (1845-1914)
  • Beatrice (1857-1944), Princess Henry of Battenberg 1885
    ~ 1885 Prince Henry of Battenberg [RH 1885]
    • Alexander (1886-1960), [H 1886] marquess of Carisbrooke 1917
    • Leopold (1889-1922) [H 1886]
    • Maurice (1891-1914) [H 1886]
    • Victoria Eugénie Julia Ena [H 1886, RH 1906]

The great-grandchildren of Queen Victoria in male line were

  • the children of the duke of York (born between 1894 and 1905),
  • Alastair Arthur, grandson of the 1st duke of Connaught (b. 1914), and
  • the children of Karl Eduard, reigning duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (born between 1906 and 1918).

The letters patent of 1864

To be completed.

See the text of the letters patent.

The children of the duke of York between 1894 and 1898

The Letters Patent of May 28, 1898 granted the style of Royal Highness to "the children of the eldest son of any Prince of Wales ... in addition to such titular dignity of Prince or Princess ... as they may otherwise possess".  The letters themselves did not grant the title of Prince (in fact, it explicitly doesn't do so by the use of the word "otherwise").  So the title of prince which these children undoubtedly had (Burke's Peerage for 1895 styles the only child of the duke of York "Prince") is customary as all others at the time.

The grant was made to "the children of the eldest son of any Prince of Wales".  This was taken to apply to the children of the duke of York, second-born but eldest living son of the then Prince of Wales (future Edward VII).  In 1901, these children became children of a son of the sovereign, and their style was now based on the letters patent of 1864.  The letters patent were amended by those of Nov 30, 1917 (although they were not cited in their preamble), since the style of Royal Highness was now reserved to, among others, "the eldest living son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales".  There are two differences: "the eldest living son", not "the children", and "the Prince of Wales" (i.e. the prince of Wales at any point in time), not "any Prince of Wales".  Also, by specifying "eldest living son", the letters imply that "eldest son" means first-born.  The letters patent of 1917 work differently from those of 1898:  (1) Suppose a sovereign A whose eldest son B is Prince of Wales.  He has two sons C and D. C dies, leaving no issue.  D's eldest son would not be HRH, being son of the eldest-living son but not eldest son of the Prince of Wales.  This was in fact the situation between 1894 and 1901.  (2) Suppose that B dies, leaving C and D.  C is created Prince of Wales,  then has a son E: E (greatgrandchild of the sovereign) would not be HRH, being eldest son of the eldest son of "a" (late) Prince of Wales but not of "the" prince of Wales.   This changes were recognized at the time the letters of 1917 were drafted, but as no one found a concise way to encompass the various possible situations, it was thought that such cases could be dealt with in an ad-hoc fashion.

It is interesting to note that an earlier draft of the letters patent contained the additional clause: "and that the title of "Highness" shall be held and enjoyed by the other great grandchildren of the sovereign".  This explicit grant of the style of Highness was dropped, under circumstances I do not know.

In anticipation of the birth of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's first child, the letters patent of 31 December 2012 (gazetted 8 January 2013) granted to the children (not just the eldest living son) of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales the style of Royal Higness and the titular dignity of Prince. This represents a partial return to the grant of 1898 (the difference being "the Prince of Wales" as opposed to "any Prince of Wales" in the 1898 grant).

The dukes of Cumberland

The second instance of a great-grandson of a sovereign in male line came with the dukes of Cumberland.  They were even more remote from the sovereign than the Gloucesters, since the 2nd duke of Gloucester was a great-grandson of George II but also a nephew of George III.

Here is the line of the dukes of Cumberland to the 5th generation in male line from George III:
  • George III
    • Ernst August I (1771-1851), duke of Cumberland, king of Hanover 1837
      • Georg V (1819-78) king of Hanover 1851-66, 2nd duke of Cumberland
        • Ernst August (1845-1923), 3d duke of Cumberland 1878-1919
          ~ 1878 Thyra of Denmark
          • Marie Louise (1879-1948)
            ~ 1900 Maximilian prince of Baden
          • Georg Wilhelm (1880-1912)
          • Alexandra (1882-1963)
            ~ 1904 Friedrich Franz grand-duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
          • Olga (1884-1958)
          • Christian Friedrich (1885-1901)
          • Ernst August (1887-1953), duke of Brunswick 1913-18
            ~ 1913 Viktoria Luise of Prussia
            • Ernst August (1914-87)
              ~ 1951
              further issue
            • Georg Wilhelm (1915-2005)
              further issue
            • Friederike Luise (1917-81)
              ~ 1937 king Paul of the Hellenes
            • Christian (1919-81)
              further issue
            • Welf Heinrich (1923-97)
        • Frederica (1848-1926)
          ~1880 Alfons von Pawel Ra(m)mingen
        • Marie Ernestine (1849-1904)

George III's son Ernest Augustus, duke of Cumberland (1771-1851) succeeded William IV as king of Hanover in 1837.  His son Georg V, who was born in Great Britain and blinded in an accident in 1833, succeeded him in 1851 but was dispossessed during the war of 1866 by Prussia.  He moved to Gmunden, in Austria, and always refused to accept the annexation of his kingdom by Prussia.  He died in Paris on June 12,1878, and was buried on June 23 in St. George's Chapel, Windsor.  Interestingly, the Court Circular styles him "His late Majesty King George of Hanover, his Royal Highness the duke of Cumberland, K.G., First Cousin of Her Majesty the Queen, General in her Majesty's Army", thus allowing him a (British) style of Royal Highness distinct from his (Hanoverian) style of Majesty. 

George V's son Ernst August succeeded him at the head of the house of Hanover. 

At the time [July 11 according to Allemagne Dynastique 3:185, July 10 according to other sources], he sent a letter to the the king of Prussia (translation from the Times, Feb 3, 1879, p. 3D):

"Most illustrious, most potent Prince, dearest Brother and Cousin:

With a deeply-troubled heart I fulfil the sad duty of announcing to you that it has pleased God in His unsearchable counsels to summon away from this life my much-loved father His Majesty King George V., King of Hanover, Prince Royal of Great Britain and Ireland, Duke of Cumberland, Duke of Brunswick and Luneburg, etc., who died at Paris on the 12th of June this year, after long sufferings.  "In consequence of this stroke of death , involving great tribulation to me and my House, all rights, prerogatives, and titles which appertained to the King, my father, above all, and more particularly, with respect to the kingdom of Hanover have now passed to me in virtue of the law in my House regulating succession to the throne. All these rights, prerogatives, and titles do I maintain in their fulness and entirety.  As, however, the exercise of the same with regard to the kingdom of Hanover is impeded by restrictions which, of course, are not legally binding on me, I have resolved, pending the duration of these obstacles, to bear the title of 'Duke of Cumberland, Duke of Brunswick and Luneburg' with the prefix 'Royal Highness.'

While, moreover, making this communication I do not deem it necessary to intimate that the full and independent rights of me and my House can inno wise be abolished or restricted by the temporary non-use of the titles and dignities denoting the same.

I remain your Majesty's well-wisher, brother, and cousin.
       Ernst August

To His Majesty the King of Prussia
Gmund, July 1878"

This assertion of his rights (and explicit refusal to recognize the German Empire of 1871) precluded any settlement of the remaining Hanover issues, but also would block him from succeeding to the duchy of Brunswick, to which he was the heir presumptive.   The declaration also meant that the family, for the time being, was not using any title related to the former kingdom of Hanover (in particular, that of prince or princess of Hanover); the family resumed the use of these titles on Aug 29, 1931 (Allemagne Dynastique 3:199).

The duke of Cumberland was made a knight of the Garter on June 24, 1878 (dispensation on July 20, 1878): in the London Gazette announcement he is styled "His Royal Highness Ernest Augustus William Adolphus George Frederick of Hanover, duke of Cumberland and Teviotdale"  At that point, a debate arose over his status in Britain.  Acccording to a memo by Garter in 1917 (LCO 2/7300), "the late Sir Albert Woods, Garter, wrote a carefully considered memorandum for the Queen in which he gave his opinion that "the Princely title ceases with the grandchildren of the Sovereign and does not extend to more remote relationship". He stated however that no precedent could be quoted and that it might be considered a moot point which the Queen's Prerogative alone could decide."  However, an opinion of the Lord Chancellor of July 1878 (HO 144/44/86252) states clearly that
 "in England the word [Prince] has become by custom and the pleasure of the Sovereign, the appropriate title of those who are of the Blood Royal, the sons, grandsons and nephews of the Sovereign, and altrhough occasions have not arisen in modern times for its application to remoter issue there is not in my opinion any limit among those in Succession to the Throne within which the use of the style of Prince is to be confined, until some such limit is imposed by the Will of the Sovereign as the Fountain of all Honour."
Queen Victoria, clearly satisfied by this opinion, had a copy sent to Garter "to be duly recorded so as to prevent any further controversy on this subject in the future"; clearly, in 1917 Garter was not aware of the opinion.

In the royal consent given to his marriage on Sept. 27, 1878, he is styled "Our Dear Cousin His Royal Highness The Prince Ernest Augustus William Adolphus George Frederick Duke of Cumberland and Teviotdale, Earl of Armagh, Knight of Our Most Noble Order of the Garter" (PRO HO 124/18).  On Dec. 21 of the same year he married Thyra, daughter of king Christian IX of Denmark and sister of the princess of Wales, the result of a negotiation that had begun while Georg V was still alive.

Whatever the doubts about his status as prince, they were resolved two years later, when his sister Frederica married at Windsor on Apr 24, 1880 Alphonse, baron von Pawel-Rammingen, former court official of her father and settled in Britain (they had one child who died in infancy and was buried at Windsor).  She is styled "Our Dear Cousin Her Royal Highness The Princess Frederica Sophia Maria Henrietta Amelia Theresa of Hanover, Princess of Great Britain and Ireland " in the instrument passed under the Great Seal signifying the Queen's consent to the marriage (PRO HO 124/19).  It is known that she used the arms of England and the coronet of a niece of the sovereign (Fox-Davies 1909, p. 365, who asks for a warrant to settle the question of what coronet she should be entitled to as great-grandchild of a sovereign not being a niece of a sovereign).

Ernst August of Hannover (1887-1953), great-great-grandson of George III (but also first cousin of George V through his mother) and duke of Brunswick, is described as "born prince of Great Britain and Ireland" by George V in  the instrument signifying royal consent to the marriage in 1913; likewise his sister Princess Alexandra is styled "born princess of Great Britain and Ireland" (PRO C 188/2; see also the London Gazette).

The titles of the Cumberlands came under scrutiny during World War I, when it was debated what British titles and styles they had, whether they could and should be removed, and how.  Sir Alfred Scott-Gatty, Garter King of Arms, reported to Lord Sanderson, a member of the Select Committee considering the Bill, on 24th April 1917 (Lyon, op. cit.): he "seems inclined to have believed the Duke of Cumberland to be a holder of royal titles".   He cited the 1913 marriage consent and said that it was hard to see how the Duke of Brunswick could have been "born Prince of of Great Britain and Ireland" other than through his father.

At the time of the birth of the duke and duchess of Brunswick's first son in March 1914, the duke of Brunswick wished to see repeated the procedure that had taken place at his own birth, namely the attendance of a British representative at the birth, in imitation of the attendance of the Home Secretary at the birth of princes and princesses in Britain (see the details in HO 45/10723/250449).   Here is Sir Horace Rumbold's interesting account of the event:

"The Duchess of Brunswick, the Emperor's only daughter, was expecting her confinement in the first half of March, and, although the Duke was one of the German Federal Prince, he wished, as the Duke of Cumberland's son, to be also considered as an English Prince.  Her therefore intimated that he would be glad if my Chief [Sir E. Goschen] would go to Brunswick and be present in the Palace at the birth of his child, on the analogy of the presence of the Home Secretary at the birth of a child of an English Sovereign.  Sir E. Goschen, not being well, instructed me to go to Brunswick in his place.  I went there accordingly on March 8 [...]  On the seventh day of my stay, I received a message from the Duchess, conveyed, of course, quite privately, to the effect that I should have to wait on some time longer, as the doctor had evidently made a mistake about the date of the confinement. [...]  I asked the Duke, after consulting the Minister, for leave to return to Berlin.  This was at once granted on the understanding that I would come back to Brunswick as soon as I was sent for.  Early in the morning of March 18 I was rung up from Brunswick by the Chamberlain and asked to return there at once, as the Duchess had just given birth to a boy.  I caught the first available train and reached Brunswick at 11 a.m. Flags were flying throughout the State in honour of the birth of an heir to the throne.  On reaching the Palace, I was taken to a room in which were the Duke, the Minister of State and the doctor, who had not been allowed to leave the building pending my arrival. We went up to the nursery, where we inspected the newly born infant, and where the Minister of State and the doctor certified that it was the very child which had been born five or six hours earlier.  An elaborate luncheon, washed down by the finest Rhine wine, completed the proceedings as far as I was concerned, and I then returned to Berlin."
               Sir Horace Rumbold: The War Crisis in Berlin, July-August 1914. London: Constable & Co, 1940, p. 36-38.

Soon before the birth, the Minister of State of Brunswick "enquired whether the Prince or Princess whose birth is expected at Brunswick will be considered by The King to be a Prince or Princess of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland with the style of Royal Highness" and asked for "an authoritative and written statement as to the status in His Majesty's eyes of the issue of Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Brunswick and Lüneburg".   The Home Office thought it clear that he was not entitled to "Royal Highness", but that
"Possibly some such such style as "His Highness Prince (Christian names), born a prince of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland" would give satisfaction in Brunswick, the words "of the United Kingdom etc." being regarded  as explanatory of the "Prince". It would be used  in a foreign country where the significance of 'Prince' alone (as meaning membership of the English Royal Family), would not be obvious."
The only way to provide an "authoritative and written statement" was to issue a warrant to that effect.  This took some time to prepare, as Garter noted that it was usual in such cases to include all the children to be born of that marriage.  The warrant was gazetted on July 17, and the warrant forwarded to the Foreign Office on July 15.  It appears, however, that due to the outbreak of World War I it was never sent to Brunswick.  In 1936, the prince for whom the warrant had been prepared met at a party in the Berlin embassy one of the Home Office officials who had been involved in the matter, and he was amused to learn how much work he had occasioned.

The consent given to the marriage of Frederica Louisa (1917-81) with prince Paul of Greece (Gazette 34468, 31 December 1937, p. 1), as gazetted, calls her only "Her Royal Highness Princess Frederica Louisa of Brunswick-Luneburg".  But the consent given to the marriage of Ernst August (1914-87) with Ortrud of Schleswig-Holstein on Aug 1, 1951 styles him "His Royal Highness Prince Ernest Augustus George William Christian Louis Francis Joseph Nicholas Oscar of Hanover, born Prince of Great Britain, Duke of Brunswick-Luneburg" (PRO HO 124/49). The consent given to him for his second marriage on June 10, 1981 (Gazette 48638) styles them "His Royal Highness Prince Ernst August Georg of Brunswick-Luneburg". His son Ernst August (b. 1954) received consent to his (first) marriage the same day under the style "His Royal Highness Prince Ernst August Albert of Hanover". Ernst August's younger brother Ludwig (1955-88) was given consent in 1987 as "His Royal Highness Prince Ludwig Rudolph Georg Wilhelm Philipp Friedrich Wolrad Maximilian of Hanover" (Gazette 51069).

The case of Attorney-General v HRH Prince Ernest Augustus of Hanover:

This case is not germane to the subject  but I mention it because of its antiquarian interest.  In the early 1950s Prince Ernst August of Hanover petitioned for British citizenship on the basis of the Act of 1705 which naturalized all descendants of the Electress Sophia.  The statute had been completely forgotten until the 1930s.  Lower courts accepted the British government's position that its clauses should be ignored because applying them in the present time would go far beyond the intent of the drafters and produce ridiculous results, but the House of Lords sided with the plaintiff and affirmed that the Act was still in force.

There is separate page with the full law reports of the case.

Nationality of Spouses of Princes and Princesses

It was not unusual to naturalize husbands (and also sometimes wives) of members of the British Royal Family.  Here are the examples I have found:

  • 1 W & M Sess. 1, c. 3 (1688): private act naturalizing prince George of Denmark
    husband of Princess Ann, younger sister of Queen Mary
  • 7 Geo 2 c.4 (1734): naturalizing his most Serene Highness William Charles Henry Friso, prince of Orange and Nassau [Ruffhead 1763-64 6:150]
    future husband of the Princess Royal, daughter of George I
    "on account of his Descent from King William III the Glorious Deliverer of these Nations from Popery and Slavery, and his Contract of Marriage with His Majesty's eldest daughter"
  • 9 Geo 2 c. 28 (1739): act naturalizing the Princess of Wales
  • 4 Geo 3 c. 5 (1763): naturalizing the hereditary prince of Brunswick-Lunenburg
    future husband of Princess Augusta, eldest sister of George III
  • 56 Geo 3 c. 13 (1816): act naturalizing Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld
    future husband of Princess Charlotte, only daughter of the Prince Regent
  • 3 & 4 Vict. c. 1 (1840): act naturalizing Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha
    future husband of Queen Victoria
  • 29 & 30 Vict c. ? (1866): act naturalizing Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein
    future husband of Princess Helena, daughter of Queen Victoria
  • 48 & 49 Vict c.1 (1885): private act naturalizing Prince Henry of Battenberg
    future husband of Princess beatrice, daughter of Queen Victoria

While the husbands of Princesses Ann, Charlotte, Helena and Beatrice were expected to reside in Britain, it is less clear to me why the husbands of Princess Anne (daughter of George I) and Princess Augusta (daughter of George II) were naturalized, unless it was expected that they would hold positions such as members of the Privy Council.

Alastair Arthur of Connaught

Alastair Arthur was born in 1914, the son of Prince Arthur of Connaught (grandson of Queen Victoria) and Princess Alexandra, duchess of Fife (granddaughter of King Edward VII).  He was the first great-grandson of Queen Victoria in male line to be born in the United Kingdom.  His birth registration (see a copy here) designates him as a "Prince".  Several contemporary references (Kelly's Handbook, Whitaker's Peerage) style him as prince. 

Sometime in late 1916, the duchess of Connaught asked the Earl Curzon to look into the style of her grandson, the infant Alastair. Curzon contacted the Lord Chancellor discreetly, avoiding Buckingham Palace (he wrote that "The King is indifferent [?] rather hostile, having always been rather jealous of the Connaughts"). The Lord Chancellor replied on Jan 11, 1917 that "it would be in accordance with usage that the son of Prince Arthur of Connaught should be styled 'Prince' and 'Highness'" but cautioned that no step should be taken without consulting the king.

Presumably such consultation took place, and on March 23, 1917, the king's private secretary indicated to the home Office that "His Majesty's wish is that he should be styled "His Highness Prince Alastair of Connaught".  A warrant was prepared to carry out HM's wishes, but before it could be issued the king, considering the changes he was about to make in these matters, asked that the question stand over for the present. (see files LCO 2/7299 and HO 45/18980).

By the terms of the letters patent of 1917, Alastair was not allowed the style of Prince or the style of Highness, since none had been granted to him formally.  Burke's Peerage ("The Princes of Great Britain", 1963 edition, pp xxvii-xxxii) considers this to be an injustice.  It is not clear that this result was initially intented: Lloyd George's instructions of Aug 29 on the drafting of the letters patent, when coming to the 3d generation from the sovereign, give as example: " Thus in the event of further children being born to Prince and Princess Arthur of Connaught, they would he Lords or Lady...Windsor" (emphasis added), suggesting that Alastair Arthur was not expected to be styled Lord Alastair Arthur Windsor.  (see HO 144/22945).  But the article of the Times of June 20, 1917 announcing the changes that would be implemented by the Letters Patent of 1917 states that "should he succeed his grandfather and father, he will be Duke of Connaught, but not his Highness nor his Serene Highness".

Strangely, it took the reference publications a while to realize that Alastair of Connaught was neither a prince nor a Highness:

  • Kelly's Handbook to the Titled Landed and Official Classes lists "HH Prince Alastair Arthur, b. 10 Aug 1914" in its section on the royal family in the following editions:
    1915 ed., p. 26; 1916 ed., p. 23; 1917 ed., p. 23; 1918 ed., p. 25; 1919 ed., p. 25; 1920 ed., p. 26; 1921 ed., p. 26; 1922 ed., p. 26; 1923 ed., p. 31.
    With the 1924 edition (p. 30) he becomes "Alastair Arthur, Earl of Macduff".
  • Whitaker's Peerage, Baronetage, Knightage and Compagnionage lists "Prince Alastair Arthur of Connaught, Earl of Macduff, b. 9th Aug. 1914" in:
    1915 ed., p. 112; 1916 ed., p. 112; 1917 ed., p. 112; 1918 ed., p. 111; 1919 ed., p. 115; 1920 ed., p. 115; 1921 ed., p. 95; 1922 ed., p. 95; 1923 ed., p. 95.
    The word "Prince" is removed from the entry in the 1924 ed., p. 96.
  • The only Burke's I have consulted so far is the 1921 ed., which  has (p. 21) "Alastair Arthur, Earl of Macduff, b. 9 Aug 1914".
Alastair Arthur became 2nd duke of Connaught on the death of his grandfather in 1942 and died in 1943 without issue.

German Titles and Styles

From 1714 to 1917, the ruling house of Great Britain used titles and styles that were both native (British) and foreign (German).  From 1714 to 1901 the sovereigns were members of the house of Brunswick-Luneburg, and until 1837 combined the British crown with the electoral (1714 to 1814) or royal (1814 to 1837) crown of Hanover.  In 1837 the British crown passed to Queen Victoria, who married in 1840 a German prince, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.  Her descendants until 1917 combined the titles and styles to which they were entitled as members of the ducal house of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, with those to which they were entitled as members of the royal house of the United Kingdom.  Examples of German styles can be found in the official styles of the Princes of Wales.  All this ended with the proclamation of July 17, 1917.

Ann Lyon's article in the Liverpool Law Review (2000) provides much background.  It was a little difficult for the British government to ask hundreds of thousands of loyal subjects to die in the trenches of Flanders fighting the Germans all the while maintaining that the Germans were a lovely people.  Anti-German feelings developed quickly, as was to be expected, claiming an early victim in Prince Louis of Battenberg who had to resign as First Sea Lord in October 1914, in spite of his distinguished naval career.  Another early measure, though not publicized, was the removal of various German princes from the Army and Navy List.  Demands that German princes be removed from the rolls of the Garter were initially resisted by the king,  But the feelings grew especially after the sinking of the Lusitania,  and the king was forced to concede the removal of the banners of eight knights from St George's chapel in Windsor, although the stall-plates remained in place.

Another step up in anti-German feelings followed the trial of Roger Casement, an Irishman accused of treason for having accepted German help in preparing the Easter rising.  Swift McNeil, an MP from Donegal who had been insistently bringing up the matter of British titles held by Germans and Austrians, succeeded in pressuring the government into drafting what became the Titles Deprivation Act 1917, debated in the House of Lords in March 1917, in the Commons in July 1917, and received royal assent on 8 Nov 1917.

The Act dealt with British titles held by nationals of enemy countries.  There remained the matter of enemy titles held by the royal family (German and Austrian titles held by other Britons became an issue shortly after the war and ultimately led to a Royal Warrant of 1932 on foreign titles).  On June 20, 1917 the Times carried an article that began: "We are officially informed that the King has deemed it desirable, in the conditions brought about by the present war, that those Princes of his family who are his subjects and bear German names and titles should relinquish these titles and henceforth adopt British surnames."  The article also announced the conferral of peerages: Princes Louis and Alexander of Battenberg and the duke of Teck to be marquesses, and Prince Alexander of Teck to be an earl. Finally, the two daughters of Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein were to drop their territorial names.

This early announcement, commented at length in the Times, was carried into effect by a series of documents.  One was the Proclamation of July 17, 1917 by which the king (a) changed the style of the Royal House and Family to "Windsor", (b) renounced for himself and all the descendants of Victoria who were subjects of the UK all German styles and titles, including "duke and duchess of Saxony", "prince and princess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha".  A further warrant of September 12, 1917 removed the inescutcheon of Saxony from the arms of those descendants of prince Albert who bore it: the surviving son of Queen Victoria Prince Arthur duke of Connaught and his son, the surviving daughters of Queen Victoria (princesses Helena, Louise, and Beatrice) and their children, the king's sisters Princesses Louise and Victoria, and the children of the marquess of Milford Haven (formerly prince Louis Alexander of Mountbatten) who bore Saxony as part of their mother's arms.  Finally, a series of  royal warrants gazetted in November 1917 granted royal license for changes of names of the Tecks and Battenbergs, while letters patent dated July 14 through 16 granted the promised peerages (see more on the Tecks and Battenbergs).

The Letters Patent of 1917

It must have been in the spring of 1917 that George V also decided to change the royal family's practice concerning British styles and titles.  As late as May 1917 a royal warrant was being prepared to confirm that Alastair Arthur of Connaught, great-grandson of Queen Victoria, was entitled to "Prince" and "His Highness", when a message from Buckingham Palace of May 23 informed the Home Office to suspend its work.  The same Times article of June 20 that announced the relinquishment of German titles also previewed "another and a farther-reaching change which it is the King's intention to carry out", namely to reduce the number of princes and princesses, and let the style of "Highness" and "Serene Highness" die out.  The article described the then-current practice as conferring HRH on sons-in-law of Queen Victoria who were not royal highnesses in their country of origin [correct except for the duke of Argyll]; conferring HH on their children, and HSH on children of Highnesses.  This is somewhat incorrect, as the title of Serene Highness was never actually conferred.  It was also announced that HRH would henceforth be confined to children of the sovereign and children of sons of the sovereign, and Prince/ss to children and grandchildren of the sovereign.  This was not, in fact, carried out, and the style of Prince/ss was not extended any further than that of HRH.

See the full text.

After 1917

The Letters Patent of 1917 henceforth regulated the styles of Prince and Royal Highness for descendants of any sovereign of the United Kingdom.

What about individuals who were not descendants of any sovereign? 

The question was raised in 1923, when the duke of York was about to marry Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon.  What would her styles be after her marriage?  The day before the marriage, the king's private secretary, Lord Stamfordham, wrote to the Home Office to ask if she would become a Princess and a Royal Highness, and how she should sign her name after her marriage.  He asked the same question for the eventual marriage of the Prince of Wales.

The Home Office's ceremonial secretary, Boyd, replied the same day, after consulting Garter, that by virtue of the custom that a wife takes the rank of her husband, she would indeed become a Royal Highness, and a Princess as well (although she would not use the title any more than her husband the duke of York), without any need for a formal document.  The same answer applied, of course, to the Prince of Wales's eventual wife (HO 144/22945).

An official announcement was made in the Times of April 28, 1923:

It is officially announced that, in accordance with the settled general rule that a wife takes the status of her husband, Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon on her marriage has become Her Royal Highness the Duchess of York, with the status of a Princess.

The Duke of Windsor

On December 11, 1936 Edward VIII gave royal assent to the Instrument of Abdication Act (1936), and immediately thereupon ceased to be king.  What did he become?  And, given his impending marriage to Wallis Simpson, what would she become?

George VI gave Lord Wigram, his private secretary, "express directions immediately after the Abdication that the B.B.C. should announce the broadcast of the former King as being made “by His Royal Highness Prince Edward”".  In terms of precedence, the former king was placed immediately after the king's other brothers.

This problem gave rise to much debate.  The day after becoming king, George VI, before the Privy Council, declared: "My first act on succeeding My Brother will be to confer on Him a Dukedom and He will henceforth be known as His Royal Highness The Duke of Windsor."  This did not turn out to be his first act: the Letters Patent conferring the dukedom were dated March 8, 1937.  In this document, the ex-king was given the style of Royal Highness.

The Home Secretary, in consultation with the Law Officers and Garter, took the view that the ex-king had lost his right to the style of Royal Highness upon abdication; that the king had shown his intention to confer or reaffirm the style in his favor, but that a formal document could (and should, in the light of the king's wishes) be issued to deprive his wife and issue from any right to the style.  This was put into effect by the letters patent of May 27, 1937 (see the documents).

The Duke of Edinburgh

By letters patent of Nov. 19, 1947 Lt Sir Philip Mountbatten was granted the style of Royal Highness, and he was created Duke of Edinburgh the following day.  He was in the anomalous position of being a Royal Highness but not a Prince, although the normal association of the two styles led to some confusion on the matter.  Garter stated that "I believe he remains a Prince of Greece and Denmark though naturalized here." (Garter, 19 Dec 1947, LCO 6/3559).  Letters patent of Oct. 22, 1948 granted the style of Royal Highness to the children of his marriage to Princess Elizabeth.  In the text, he is styled "His Royal Highness Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh".  In the Regency Act 1953, and in the birth registration of Princess Anne, he is styled "His Royal Highness Philip, Duke of Edinburgh".  At the time of this birth, the General Register Office consulted the Home Office on the proper style that he should receive, and they proposed "His Royal Highness Prince Philip"; but George VI amended himself the proposed entry and replaced it with "His Royal Highness Philip, Duke of Edinburgh" (see the letter from H. Austin Strutt, 28 Feb 1955, LCO 6/3677).

In 1954 Queen Elizabeth II proposed that her husband be created "Prince of the Commonwealth".  This did not meet the approval of the cabinet: the Prime Minister did not find the title "impressive", and it was thought that other Commonwealth governments, which would have had to be consulted, might oppose it.  The alternatives of "Prince Consort" and "Prince Royal" were rejected by the Queen.  Another proposal, "His Royal Highness the Prince", and she seemed to approve of it, but the matter was not pursued (perhaps because of Churchill's resignation a few weeks later).  The matter came up again in February 1957, prompted in part by an article by P.Wykeham-Bourne in The Evening Standard.  This time, it was proposed that he be made a "Prince of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Her other Realms and Territories" (a remarkably clumsy formulation: whose realms and territories?).  The last six words were dropped, again because of concern about the assent of other Commonwealth governments.  In the end, the letters patent of Feb. 22, 1957 styled him "Prince of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland" in the letters patent.  Separately, the Gazette announcement declared the Queen's will and pleasure that "he shall henceforth be known as His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh".  It is notable that this declaration was not made in the letters patent themselves, only in the Gazette announcement.

The children of the Earl of Wessex

On June 19, 1999, at the time of Prince Edward's wedding, it was announced that The Queen had decided, with the agreement of Prince Edward and Miss Rhys-Jones, that any children of their marriage should not be given the style of His or Her Royal Highness, but would have courtesy titles as sons or daughters of an Earl (see the press release from Buckingham Palace).

At the time, many people have expressed the notion that a press release was not sufficient to modify the Letters Patent of 1917, and that Louise could not be deprived of her "rights" without letters patent.  The fact is that royal styles and titles are a matter of royal prerogative, that does not require the advice of the government (the Letters Patent of 1917 were issued without any such advice).  The sovereign's will and pleasure is all that matters, and she can change styles and titles as she pleases (see the documents concerning the style of the Duke of Windsor's wife and issue, in particular the view of the Law Officers that "the right to use this style or title, in our view, is within the prerogative of His Majesty and he has the power to regulate it by Letters Patent generally or in particular circumstances", their view of the "undoubted powers of the Sovereign from time to time to determine the ambit within which the style and title of Royal Highness should be enjoyed", and the opinion of Sir Geoffrey Ellis that "precedence not regulated by law is substantially that granted at Court and this is a question for the Crown").  How that pleasure is publicized, by letters patent, warrant, press release or verbal declaration, is immaterial.

the Letters Patent of 2012

The London Gazette (8 Jan 2013) published the following notice from the Crown Office:

The Queen has been pleased by Letters Patent under the Great Seal of the Realm dated 31 December 2012 to declare that all the children of the eldest son of The Prince of Wales should have and enjoy the style, title and attribute of Royal Highness with the titular dignity of Prince or Princess prefixed to their Christian names or with such other titles of honour.

As mentioned above, this represents essentially a return to the situation between 1898 and 1917, with the difference that it applied to the issue of "the Prince of Wales" rather than "any Prince of Wales", and is therefore slightly more restrictive (see the discussion above).


The coronets worn by princes and princesses are essentially variations on the royal crown, which consists of alternating crosses patée and fleurs-de-lys, with two arches surmounted by an orb.  The arches are a symbol of sovereignty.

royal crown

Historical development

Until 1661, the heir apparent wore the same crown as the king but without arches, while other princes wore the coronet appropriate for their peerage, nothing distinguishing them as being of royal blood. 

Note, however, that royal dukes were given a coronet of fleurs-de-lis and leaves by Guillim, and one of fleurs-de-lis and crosses by Sylvan Morgan: The Sphere of Gentry (1661), book 3, p. 33.

An early appearance of the prince of Wales's crown with a single arch is on a binding of Henry Frederick:

binding of Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales (+1612)

By warrant of Feb 9, 1661 Charles II regulated the coronets of  the heir apparent and of the other princes.  The rule was

  • heir apparent: crosses patée and fleurs-de-lys, one arch
  • sons and brothers of sovereigns: crosses patée and fleurs-de-lys
  • sons of sons and brothers of sovereigns who are dukes: crosses patée and leaves (which compose the coronet of dukes)
The heir apparent thus bore the royal crown with one arch, the sons and brothers the royal crown without arches, and the sons of the latter, if dukes, a coronet that mixes royal crosses and ducal leaves.

With the accession of the Hanovers arms were assigned to George I's brother Ernest Augustus duke of York (16 Dec 1716): the text of the warrant specifies only "a coronet befitting his degree" but the illustration shows the coronet of a brother of sovereign. A warrant of Jan 31, 1719 created a new coronet, composed of 2 crosses patée, 2 leaves, and 4 fleurs-de-lys, and was designated as appropriate for the daughters of the Prince of Wales.  The warrant of 20 Jul 1725 assigning arms to Prince William, younger son of the Prince of Wales, granted him the same coronet.   After George II's accession, the arms of his children were modified by warrant of 30 Aug 1727: the labels of 5 points were replaced with labels of 3 points, and on this occasion the "eldest daughter and also our other royal daughters Mary and Louisa" were assigned a coronet "of the same fashion with the immediate sons of the crown". The grants to the sons of the prince of Wales (George William Frederick [George III] 27 Jul 1749, Edward Augustus 19 Mar 1752) also featured coronets of crosses, fleurs-de-lis and ducal leaves.

Curiously, the daughters of George III used the coronet of a daughter of prince of Wales rather than the coronet of a sovereign's daughter as their aunts had done.

Monogram of Augusta Sophia, daughter of George III.

A warrant of Nov 6, 1911 assigned to the duke of Teck (who had been given the style of Highness) "a Coronet composed of Fleurs-de-lys and strawberry leaves"; the warrant went on to "ordain and declare that a Coronet in form as aforesaid shall henceforth constitute the Coronet appertaining to the style dignity and title of Highness". 

A warrant of Nov 19, 1917, noting that the warrant of 1661 was incomplete, and that no general rule had been laid since, codified the practices that had developed since the 18th century, assigning coronets to the daughters and sisters of sovereigns, children of the heir apparent, sons who are not dukes and daughters of younger sons and brothers of the sovereign, and children of daughters of the sovereign.  This last group was assigned the coronet that had been invented in 1911 for the style of Highness.  A number of references (e.g. Cox 1999) erroneously state that this coronet is "for the sons and daughters of daughters of the Sovereign, being styled His or Her Highness".  The actual text of the warrant of 1917 says otherwise.  The style of Highness ceased to be granted after 1917, at which date only the daughters of Prince Christian (Princesses Helena Victoria and Marie Louise), and the daughters of the Princess Royal (Princesses Alexandra and Maud), the last of whom died in 1959. 

A few examples

Henry, duke of Gloucester (1640-60)

William, duke of Gloucester (1689-1700)

Frederick Augustus, duke of York and Albany

Augustus Frederick, duke of Sussex (1773-1843), version with princely coronet

Augustus Frederick, duke of Sussex (1773-1843), version with ducal coronet

Mary, Princess Royal

Present use

The coronets in use at present are as follows (dates in italics indicate the beginning of the practice, dates in roman indicate the appearance of a formal rule):

  • heir apparent (1661):
      coronet of heir-apparent
  • other sons and brothers of the sovereign (1661), daughters and sisters of the sovereign (1727/1917):
    coronet 2
  • sons and daughters of heir apparent (1719/1917):
    coronet 3
  • sons other than dukes (1661) and daughters (?/1917) of younger sons and brothers of the sovereign:
    coronet 4
  • Highnesses (1911); sons and daughters ("being subjects of these our realms") of daughters of the sovereign (1917):

Special cases

Prince Rupert

Prince Rupert (1619-1682) was a son of Elizabeth, daughter of James I, and the Elector Palatine, who lost his states during the Thirty Years War.  In 1642 Rupert went to England, was made a knight of the Garter on April 19, 1642, duke of Cumberland in 1643, and served as General of the Horse of his cousin Charles I during the Civil War.  He returned to England at the Restoration, was made a Privy Councillor and Vice-Admiral of England, and died in 1682, unmarried.  For his funeral, Charles II issued a warrant on 6 Dec  1682: stating that "whereas the Prince in his lifetime, in relation to the Palatine family, did bear a peculiar and distinct form of coronet, from what the said King had ordered for the Royal family, therefore, taking the same into his consideration, he does thereby order and decree, that at the funeral of the said prince there shall be used such a form of coronet as in the margin of the said warrant is depicted" (Sandford, p. 570).  The coronet depicted is the standard coronet of a prince of the Holy Roman Empire.

Duke of Cumberland

By Royal Warrant dated 29 February 1879 Arms, were assigned to the Duke of Cumberland in which the following passage occurs "And it not appearing that any Coronet hath hitherto been appropriated to Princes Cousins of the Sovereign We do further ordain that Our said dear Cousin shall in future use and bear a Coronet of crosses and flowers or leaves in every respect similar to that which was assigned to his father".

The Schleswig-Holsteins, Tecks and Battenbergs

A series of royal warrants of Sep 26, 1910 (sons of Prince and Princess Henry of Battenberg), Nov 6, 1911 (duke of Teck, Prince Alexander of Teck), May 14, 1912 (Prince Louis of Battenberg and his children) and July 25, 1912 (children of Prince and Princess Christian of Schleswig-Holstein) assigned arms to members of these families.  The following coronets were assigned:

  • children of Prince and Princess Christian of Schleswig-Holstein (Highnesses by warrant of May 15, 1867)

  • sons of Prince and Princess Henry of Battenberg (Highnesses by warrant of Dec 4, 1886)

  • duke of Teck (Highness by warrant of June 9, 1911)

  • Prince Alexander of Teck, Prince Louis of Battenberg and his children (Serene Highnesses)


This section to be completed.

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François Velde

Last modified: Sep 15, 2021