On Monday 4th September 2017, Prince William and his wife Princess Kate announced the happy news that they were expecting a third child.
Royalty enthusiasts the world over have already had the excitement of Prince George, their first-born, and Princess Charlotte, his younger sister, expanding the ‘Family Business’. Now, somewhat against expectations, the couple will be having to find another spare room in their Kensington Palace apartment. One wouldn’t expect that to be so hard….
There will doubtless be much fanfare and media coverage regardless of whether the royal couple’s third child is a boy or a girl – a prince or a princess. But one thing that’s gained the attention of the experts is the fact that a recent change in British law could have a remarkable effect on the third child’s future.
It might seem like a dusty, obscure issue, but its practical implications are extraordinary. The story begins in 1701 with the British Parliament passing an act called the Act of Settlement, which aimed to resolve a dispute about who was entitled to ascend to the throne on the monarch’s death. The primary purpose of the parliamentarians was to ensure that the throne would always pass to a Protestant heir, rather than a Roman Catholic one (an issue reaching far back to the time of Henry VIII). However, it so happened that the most direct protestant heir was a woman – and, in 1701, they didn’t really think that that was a suitable set-up. Their crafty solution? To stipulate in the Act that a male heir would always take precedence over any older female heirs. This meant that it was ultimately Sophia’s son who took the throne rather than her, becoming George I in 1714.
Fast-forward to the year 2013. In the intervening time, women have consistently been denied the chance to rule the land, so long as there were male siblings around to rule instead. (Queen Elizabeth is monarch only because her parents had no sons.) In this day-and-age, we find that rather unfair – ‘not quite cricket’, you might say. The 2013 Succession to the Crown Act passed a law abolishing this outdated system of ‘primogeniture’, meaning that a male child would no longer enjoy the privilege of overtaking his older sisters in the race to the fancy gold chair. Since it took another two years before the law finally entered force, this makes Wills’ and Kate’s third-born the first to be affected by the upturning of centuries-old traditions.
How radical the change seems depends on whether the couple’s third child is a boy or a girl. If a girl, the difference would be less noticeable: she would remain the fifth-in-line to the throne, behind Princes Charles, William, George, and her older sister Charlotte. However, if the child were a boy, his position would be an entirely new one. Previously, he would have been entitled to ‘frog-jump’ his older sister Charlotte into fourth place in line to power. Now, he has no right to do so. Charlotte has effectively been given a good extra helping of older-sibling superiority! Though unlikely, if the crown to pass from George to her, she would no longer be obliged to hand it over to an upstart younger brother.
Of course, it may well be that we do not see this series of events playing out in our lifetimes, as the chances of Charlotte ascending to the throne are, in themselves, low: George will most probably have children of his own, one day, who will take priority in the royal queue. Nevertheless, it goes to show what a seemingly minor change in the law can do for a person’s chances of being a royal.
You and I might wish that we were born into a golden cot in Kensington Palace, but there’s not much we can do about the fact that we weren’t. To many of us, it seems that there are only two ways to become a prince or princess: either by birth or by marriage. Much as we might secretly wish it were otherwise, we content ourselves with watching the Royals from afar.
There are others amongst us, though, who wear smug grins as they go about, knowing that the truth is otherwise: knowing that royal titles can belong to anyone with barely any effort.
How? The secret also lies in the law. It’s a little-known fact that international law permits the existence of ‘micronations’, or groups of people claiming to be a ‘nation’ or ‘kind’ without actually possessing any formal territory. While they’re highly unlikely ever to be formally recognised by existing nation-states, these ‘micronations’ nevertheless possess the right to create and bestow their own honorary titles, as well as issue coins, stamps, medals, and legal documents.
Royaltitles.net allows you a legally-valid means of joining a micronation in return for a modest one-off payment. Once the membership fee has been received, you’re entitled to choose from a range of aristocratic titles: from Prince to Earl, Duchess to Lady, and much more besides. You’ll receive a welcome-pack containing proof of your title, which is hereditary – meaning that you’re permitted to pass it on to your children or family members. Your new title is so authentic that you’re legally able to add it to documents such as your passport and bank cards – from now on, you’ll be signing into hotels as ‘Duke [Insert Your Name]’!
So, it isn’t just William and Kate’s kid who might have seen their chances improve!