When the birthday girl is already living a fairytale, figuring out how to mark her 31st birthday must be a nightmare.
But not for the Queen. She didn’t shop online for a nice cashmere scarf to hide Kate’s baby bump or a gift certificate for a new pair of platform shoes. No, that’s just too, well, ordinary. Her Majesty used her position–monarch, head of state, you get the drift–to declare that all of William and Kate’s children will be given two titles: the first is “prince” or “princess” before their Christian name and the second is the HRH honorific.
Here’s the rather spartan official announcement in the London Gazette:
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.
And before you ask, no, neither were automatic. If the Queen hadn’t done this, then under the 1917 Letters Patent, the new baby, if a girl, would get “style and title enjoyed by the children of Dukes,” which means “Lady” before her name. Only the first born son would have gotten the full princely mouthful. Look at the last sentence of the 1917 rule.
Whitehall, 11th December, 1917.
The KING has been pleased by Letters Patent under the Great Seal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, bearing date the 30th ultimo, to define the styles and titles to be borne henceforth by members of the Royal Family. It is declared by the Letters Patent that the children of any Sovereign of the United Kingdom and the children of the sons of any such Sovereign and the eldest living son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales shall have and at all times hold and enjoy the style, title or attribute of Royal Highness with their titular dignity of Prince or Princess prefixed to their respective Christian names or with their other titles of honour; that save as aforesaid the titles of Royal Highness, Highness or Serene Highness, and the titular dignity of Prince and Princess shall cease except those titles already granted and remaining unrevoked; and that the grandchildren of the sons of any such Sovereign in the direct male line (save only the eldest living son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales) shall have the style and title enjoyed by the children of Dukes.
Now that’s a gift fit for a monarch.