The Most Recent Reminder of Sexist Royal Title Protocols in the Royal Family

Title changes have been in store for several members of the royal family. But one member of the royal family has notably been left out.

Who’s Been Left Behind?

Buckingham Palace announced just recently that Prince Edward, the youngest son of the late Queen will now be known as the Duke of Edinburgh, a title previously held by Prince Phillip, the Queen’s late husband. Sophie, the former Countess of Wessex, is now the Duchess of Edinburgh, and their son, formerly James, Viscount Severn is now the Earl of Wessex, assuming his father’s title.

But someone’s missing here.

The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh’s nineteen-year-old daughter, Lady Louise Windsor doesn’t get a new title. This is because Dukedoms and Earldoms can only be passed down from father to son, leaving Lady Louise in the dust.

 Sexist royal rules have plagued Lady Louise for much longer than just this one instance, however. When her younger brother was born, he took her place in the line of succession because of male-preference primogeniture (which has since been replaced by absolute primogeniture with the birth of Princess Charlotte). And when he was born, he received the title of “Viscount Severn,” one of his father’s titles, when again, Lady Louise received nothing.

The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh with their children
The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh with their children, the Earl of Wessex and Lady Louise Windsor

It’s Time for Change

The royal family is symbol of history and tradition, and with this symbol comes the fact that A BUNCH of its title protocols are inherently sexist. The rules prohibiting Lady Louise from receiving the same titles as her brother aren’t the only ones keeping women from holding the same value as men in terms of titles.

During the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, her husband wasn’t a king. Instead, he was known as Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. This is because the title of “king” is considered higher than “queen” and the monarchy wanted to signal that Prince Philip’s rank was lower than the Queen’s. However, women can become Queen consorts when their husbands become Kings. This is the title that Camilla will officially receive when her husband, King Charles ascends the throne. The fact that “Queens” are ranked lower than “Kings” needs to change. Men should become known as King consorts to show that Queens are not ranked lower than their male counterparts.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip looking at each other
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip

And the only reason why Archie and Lilibet officially became “Prince Archie” and “Princess Lilibet” at the same time that the other title changes were announced is because of another sexist protocol. Only male-line grandchildren of the sovereign can use the titles of Prince and Princess. So if King Charles had a daughter, her children would not get royal titles even though her brothers’ children would.

Even further, when Princess Eugenie (one of the Queen’s grandchildren) got married to Jack Brooksbank, she became Princess Eugenie, Mrs. Jack Brooksbank, taking his name. But when Prince Harry (also one of the Queen’s grandchildren) and Meghan Markle got married just five months earlier, they became the “Duke and Duchess of Sussex.” Again, this is because of the fact that dukedoms and earldoms only get passed down to men, the same protocol affecting Lady Louise.

And these are just a few of the sexist title rules in the royal family. There are so many more outdated protocols that need to be changed if the royal family wants to maintain its popularity with the increasing equal rights movement in the UK.

With so many strong female figures in the royal family, from Queen Elizabeth who served in the British Army during World War II, to Meghan Markle, who might have encouraged Procter & Gamble to change its sexist tagline when she was just 11, it’s clear that it’s time for change. There’s no better time than now.

References:

Friel, M. (2020, October 13). The monarchy’s treatment of royal women from the Queen to Meghan Markle reveals a pattern of blatant sexism. Business Insider. https://www.insider.com/monarchy-treatment-women-queen-meghan-markle-reveals-blatant-sexism-2020-10

Matousek, M. (2017, December 1). Resurfaced video shows a young Meghan Markle asking Procter & Gamble to change a commercial with sexist undertones. Business Insider. https://www.businessinsider.com/meghan-markle-spoke-out-about-commercial-2017-11

Photos:

Cuthbert, M. (n.d.). [Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh with family] [Photograph]. UK Press via Getty Images. https://people.com/royals/prince-edward-sophie-countess-of-wessex-children/

Graham, T. (n.d.). [Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip] [Photograph]. Getty Images. https://www.redbookmag.com/love-sex/g32130664/queen-elizabeth-marriage-facts/

Parsons, S. (2021, July 4). [Royal Windsor Horse Show 2021] [Photograph]. Getty Images. https://www.gettyimages.ca/detail/news-photo/lady-louise-windsor-participates-in-the-champagne-laurent-news-photo/1233798867

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