The British Royal Family is the group of close relatives of the monarch of the United Kingdom. The term is also commonly applied to the same group of people as the relations of the monarch in his or her role as sovereign of any of the other Commonwealth realms, thus sometimes at variance with official national terms for the family. Members of the royal family belong to, either by birth or marriage, the House of Windsor, since 1917, when George V changed the name of the royal house from Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.
Although in the United Kingdom there is no strict legal or formal definition of who is or is not a member of the Royal Family, and different lists will include different people, those carrying the style His or Her Majesty (HM), or His or Her Royal Highness (HRH) are always considered members, which usually results in the application of the term to the monarch, the consort of the monarch, the widowed consorts of previous monarchs, the children of the monarch, the male-line grandchildren of the monarch, and the spouses and the widows of a monarch's sons and male-line grandsons.
Members and relatives of the British Royal Family historically represented the monarch in various places throughout the British Empire, sometimes for extended periods as viceroys, or for specific ceremonies or events. Today, they often perform ceremonial and social duties throughout the United Kingdom and abroad on behalf of the UK, but, aside from the monarch, have no constitutional role in the affairs of government. This is the same for the other realms of the Commonwealth though the family there acts on behalf of, is funded by, and represents the sovereign of that particular state, and not the United Kingdom.
Besides the above, there are a few immediate family members carrying no official style who are sometimes in listings:
Miss Catherine Middleton, fiancée to Prince William of Wales
VAdm Tim Laurence (The Princess Royal's second and current husband)
Mr & Mrs Peter Phillips (The Princess Royal's son by Mark Phillips, and his wife, who is expecting the Queen's first great-grandchild in December 2010)
Miss Zara Phillips, MBE (The Princess Royal's daughter by Mark Phillips) & Mike Tindall, her fiancé
The following persons are descendants (or widows) of the younger children of Queen Victoria, King Edward VII, and King George V:
The Earl of Harewood (grandson and first grandchild of George V through his daughter Mary, Princess Royal), his second wife, and his children, and grandchildren, as well as the children and grandchildren of his now deceased brother, Gerald Lascelles.
The Duke of Fife (female-line great-grandson of Edward VII) and his children and grandchildren
The Lady Saltoun (widow of Alexander Ramsay of Mar, a female-line grandson of Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, the third son of Queen Victoria), and her children and grandchildren
The Marquess of Milford Haven (grandson of George Mountbatten, 2nd Marquess of Milford Haven, and great-grandson of HGDH Princess Victoria, eldest daughter of HRH The Princess Alice The Grand Duchess of Hesse and by Rhine, 2nd daughter of HM Queen Victoria, and his family
The Countess Mountbatten of Burma (elder daughter of Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, youngest son of HGDH Princess Victoria of Hesse and by Rhine, and her family
The Earl of Harewood is a female-line first cousin of the Queen. The Duke of Fife, the Marquess of Milford Haven, the Countess Mountbatten of Burma, and the Lady Saltoun, and their respective families, as well as Lord Harewood's descendants, are so distant from the reigning Sovereign that they are relatives of, rather than members of, the Royal Family.
None of these persons receive any money from the State or undertake official engagements on behalf of the Queen. However, the Queen does invite them to private family functions and to participate in official royal occasions, such as the Trooping the Colour, the Golden Jubilee celebrations, and ceremonial or state funerals.
There are three living former spouses of members of the British Royal Family:
Sarah, Duchess of York (the former wife of The Duke of York),
Captain Mark Phillips (the first husband of The Princess Royal), and
The Earl of Snowdon (the former husband of Princess Margaret).
Recently deceased members of the Royal Family include:
HM Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother (widow of King George VI and mother of The Queen)
HRH The Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon (sister of The Queen)
HRH Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester (widow of Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, and mother to the present Duke of Gloucester)
The Prince of Wales' first wife, Diana, Princess of Wales, died in a car crash in 1997. They had divorced in 1996. She lost the HRH title but was allowed the style "Princess of Wales" and remained a member of the Royal Family to reflect the fact she was the mother of the second and third in line to the throne, Princes William and Henry ("Harry").
Family tree of members
Family tree of members
|HM George V|
|HM Edward VIII||HM George VI||HRH Mary, Princess Royal and Countess of Harewood||HRH Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester||HRH Prince George, Duke of Kent||HRH The Prince John|
|HRH Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh||HM The Queen||HRH The Duchess of Gloucester||HRH The Duke of Gloucester||HRH The Duke of Kent||HRH The Duchess of Kent||HRH Prince Michael of Kent||HRH Princess Michael of Kent||HRH Princess Alexandra, The Hon Lady Ogilvy|
|HRH The Prince of Wales||HRH The Duchess of Cornwall||HRH The Princess Royal||HRH The Duke of York||HRH The Earl of Wessex||HRH The Countess of Wessex|
|HRH Prince William of Wales||HRH Prince Harry of Wales||HRH Princess Beatrice of York||HRH Princess Eugenie of York||Viscount Severn||Lady Louise Windsor|
Public role and image
Members of the Royal Family participate in hundreds of public engagements yearly throughout the whole of the entire United Kingdom, as formally recorded in the Court Circular, to honour, encourage and learn about the achievements or endeavours of individuals, institutions and enterprises in a variety of areas of life. As representatives of the Queen, they often also join the nation in commemorating historical events, holidays, celebratory and tragic occurrences, and may also sponsor or participate in numerous charitable, cultural and social activities. Their travels abroad on behalf of the UK (called State Visits when the sovereign officially meets with other heads of state) draw public attention to amicable relations within and between the Commonwealth and other nations, to British goods and trade, and to Britain as a historical, vacation, and tourist destination. Their presence, activities and traditional roles constitute the apex of a modern "royal court," and provide a distinctly British and historical pageantry to ceremonies (e.g. Trooping the Colour) and flavour to public events (e.g. Garden Parties, Ascot). Throughout their lives they draw enormous media coverage in the form of photographic, written and televised commentary on their activities, family relationships, rites of passage, personalities, attire, behaviour, and public roles. Senior members of the royal family often drive themselves instead of having a driver.
In a lengthy interview conducted by PBS prior to the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in August 1997,Max Hastings, editor of the Daily Telegraph between 1986 and 1995, discussed the impact of Andrew Morton's and Jonathan Dimbleby's biographies of, respectively, the Princess and Charles, Prince of Wales on subsequent news coverage of the Royal Family in the UK:
Finances of the British Royal Family
Members of the Royal Family carry out public duties; these individuals receive an annual payment known as a Parliamentary Annuity, the funds being supplied to cover office costs.
These amounts are repaid by The Queen from her private funds.
Though always voluntarily subject to the Value Added Tax and other indirect taxes, the Queen agreed to pay taxes on income and capital gains from 1992, although the details of this arrangement are both voluntary and secret. At the same time it was announced that only the Queen and Prince Philip would receive civil list payments. Since 1993 the Queen's personal income has been taxed as any other Briton. The Queen's private estate (e.g. shareholdings, personal jewellery, Sandringham House and Balmoral Castle) will be subject to Inheritance Tax, though bequests from Sovereign to Sovereign are exempt.
Royal styles and titles
|Members of the Royal Family in the Royal box at Westminster Abbey|
during the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II,
The style His Majesty or Her Majesty (HM) is enjoyed by a king, a queen regnant, a queen consort, and a queen dowager. Use of the style His Royal Highness or Her Royal Highness (HRH) and the titular dignity of prince or princess are governed by Letters Patent issued by George V on 30 November 1917 and published in the London Gazette on 11 December 1917. These Letters Patent state that henceforth only the children of the Sovereign, the children of the sons of the Sovereign, and the eldest son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales would "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." They further state, "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."
Under these conventions, The Queen's children and the children of The Prince of Wales, The Duke of York and The Earl of Wessex are titled Princes or Princesses and styled Royal Highness. However, upon Prince Edward's marriage in 1999, it was announced that his children would be styled as earl's children, but no Letters Patent were issued to deny them their princely status or HRH. The Duke of Gloucester, The Duke of Kent, Princess Alexandra, the Hon. Lady Ogilvy and Prince Michael of Kent enjoy the titular dignity of Prince or Princess and the style Royal Highness as male-line grandchildren of George V. However, none of their children has a royal title. For example, the children of Prince Michael of Kent are known as Lord Frederick Windsor and Lady Gabriella Windsor, the courtesy titles as children of dukes. They are not entitled to any royal title. The children of The Princess Royal, Princess Alexandra and Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon, are not entitled to any royal title since princesses do not transmit their titles to their children. An exception to this rule was when George VI issued Letters Patent such that his heiress presumptive, Princess Elizabeth, could transmit her title to her children. Princess Margaret's son enjoys the courtesy title Viscount Linley as the son and heir of the Earl of Snowdon, while her daughter enjoys the courtesy title Lady. The children of the Princess Royal and Princess Alexandra have no titles, because Mark Phillips and Sir Angus Ogilvy did not accept hereditary peerages upon marriage.
Women marrying sons and male-line grandsons of a Sovereign are normally styled Her Royal Highness followed by the feminised version of her husband's highest title. The wives of royal peers are known as "HRH The Duchess of ..." or " HRH The Countess of ..." Thus, the wives of the Duke of Kent, the Duke of Gloucester, and the Earl of Wessex are "HRH The Duchess of Kent," "HRH The Duchess of Gloucester," and "HRH The Countess of Wessex," respectively. Before her divorce, Diana, Princess of Wales enjoyed the title and style of "HRH The Princess of Wales." However, when a woman marries a prince who does not hold a peerage, she is known as HRH Princess [Her husband's Christian name], followed by whatever territorial or titular designation. For example, the former Baroness Marie-Christine von Reibnitz enjoys the title and style of "HRH Princess Michael of Kent," and not "HRH Princess Marie-Christine of Kent." Similarly, the former Birgitte Eva van Deurs was titled "HRH Princess Richard of Gloucester" from her wedding until her husband succeeded to his father's dukedom in 1974. The widows of princes remain HRH. However, under Queen Elizabeth II's 21 August 1996 Letters Patent, a divorced wife of a Prince of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland "shall not be entitled to hold and enjoy the style, title or attribute of Royal Highness."
There has been one exception to the convention that wives of princes take their husband's rank. In Letters Patent dated 28 May 1937, King George VI specifically denied the style HRH to the wife of the Duke of Windsor, the former King Edward VIII. Therefore, the former Wallis Warfield Simpson was known as "Her Grace The Duchess of Windsor," not "Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Windsor."
Another exception was made in the case of the last blue-blood to marry into the British royal family: Princess Marina who, being a Princess of Greece and Denmark by birth, reverted to her own princely style after being widowed.
Due to a reluctance by the public to universally support the second wife of The Prince of Wales, it has been announced by Clarence House that, should The Prince of Wales become King, his wife HRH The Duchess of Cornwall will not be known as HM Queen Camilla but will take the lesser title of HRH The Princess Consort. Out of respect for Diana, Princess of Wales, it was also announced that HRH The Duchess of Cornwall would not be known as HRH The Princess of Wales.
The daughters and male-line granddaughters of the Sovereign do not lose their royal titles upon marriage. Men who marry the daughters and the male-line granddaughters of the Sovereign, however, do not acquire their wives' royal rank and the style HRH.
Female consorts of the British sovereign have not been created peers or peeresses. Male consorts, however, have sometimes been granted dukedoms. Prince George of Denmark, the husband of the future Queen Anne, was created Duke of Cumberland in 1683. Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, was given the style Royal Highness before his marriage. In 1857, Queen Victoria granted him title of Prince Consort; however, Prince Albert was not made a British peer. Prince Philip, husband of the present Queen, was created Duke of Edinburgh and granted the style Royal Highness the day before his wedding (which occurred prior to her accession).
Generally, the sons of the Sovereign are awarded peerage dignities to mark either adulthood or marriage. Originally, younger sons of the Sovereign were not styled Princes (except the Prince of Wales); thus, to indicate their exalted rank, peerage dignities were conferred upon them. From the time of Edward III, nearly every son of a Sovereign surviving into adulthood became a Duke. Certain dukedoms were granted more often than others, including the Dukedoms of York, Albany and Clarence. Normally, a peerage once awarded to a member of the Royal Family is not thereafter granted to any person outside the Royal Family (though some exceptions do exist).
The Dukedom of York is generally created for the second son of the Sovereign. The first creation was in 1384; the dukedom merged in the Crown in 1461. Every Duke thereafter has either died without heirs or succeeded to the Crown, and so has not been able to leave the Royal Family. The pattern of awarding the dukedom to the second-eldest son of the Sovereign was upset by George I, who gave the Dukedom of York and Albany to his younger brother. The Dukedom of York and Albany was next granted by George II to the second son of his son, who had predeceased him. York and Albany featured one last time as a dukedom in 1784, when George III granted it to his second son. Thereafter, the dukedom has always borne the designation York, rather than York and Albany. The current duke is The Prince Andrew, second son of Queen Elizabeth II.
The Dukedom of Albany served a function similar to the Dukedom of York in Scotland. The dukedom was created in 1398 for Robert Stewart, brother of King Robert III. It was at the time the only dukedom other than the Dukedom of Rothesay. It was created thrice more in Scotland: twice for the second son of a Sovereign, and once for a brother of a Sovereign. It was last created in 1881 for the fourth son of Victoria; the dukedom was then suspended under the Titles Deprivation Act after its holder fought on the side of Germany during World War I.
There are several other dukedoms that have been used for members of the Royal Family. Clarence was first used as a dukedom in 1362, most of the time being granted to the third son of the Sovereign. Among the dukedoms granted to still younger sons of the Sovereign are Cambridge, Connaught, Cumberland, Edinburgh, Gloucester, Kent and Sussex — others in the Scottish peerage have included Ross and Kintyre. Some of those dukedoms were used for younger brothers, nephews and other kinsmen of Sovereigns. The dukedom of Windsor was also a Royal dukedom, being granted to Edward VIII after he abdicated so that he could marry against the tenets of the Church of England.
Often, sons of the Sovereign were granted titles associated with England and Scotland, later with Ireland, and most recently with Wales. Thus, the Dukedom of Strathearn (named after a place in Scotland) has been held with the Dukedoms of Connaught (named after an Irish province), Kent and Cumberland (both named after English places). This pattern continues in the present Royal Family. The current Duke of York, for example, is also Earl of Inverness and Baron Killyleagh; the subsidiary titles are associated with Scotland and Northern Ireland, respectively.
The convention of granting dukedoms to senior members of the Royal Family was broken most recently in 1999, when The Prince Edward was created Earl of Wessex. The Earldom of Wessex had not been created earlier by an English or British Sovereign since 1066. It has been suggested that the Dukedom of Edinburgh will eventually be granted to the Earl of Wessex. The current dukedom will descend to Charles, Prince of Wales, however, and not to the Earl of Wessex. When The Prince of Wales becomes Sovereign, or if he is already Sovereign when the dukedom passes to him, the dukedom will merge in the Crown and then only become available for a regrant.
The highest peerage dignity belonging to a Prince may be used as a part of the title of that Prince's children. Thus, the sons of The Prince of Wales are Prince William of Wales and Prince Harry of Wales; the daughters of the Duke of York are Princess Beatrice of York and Princess Eugenie of York; the children of the Earl of Wessex are Lady Louise Windsor and Viscount Severn. (In the last case, Lady Louise and Lord Severn are always (and without exception) referred to as such, at the wishes of their parents and by order of The Queen, but may nonetheless legally retain their princely titles (i.e. Princess Louise of Wessex and Prince James of Wessex))
Sovereigns, especially Charles II, have sometimes granted peerage dignities to illegitimate children. James Scott became Duke of Monmouth in 1663 . Many more creations, mostly earldoms, followed in the 1670s: Charles FitzCharles became Earl of Plymouth, Charles FitzRoy Duke of Southampton, Henry FitzRoy Earl of Euston, George FitzRoy Earl of Northumberland, Charles Beauclerk Earl of Burford and Charles Lennox Duke of Richmond and Lennox. Many of the earls who were sons of Charles later became Dukes. Of the current Dukes, four are male-line descendants of Charles in the illegitimate line: the Duke of Richmond, Lennox and Gordon, the Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry, the Duke of Grafton and the Duke of St Alban's.
In other Commonwealth realms
As the Royal Family is shared by other Commonwealth realms, its members will often also conduct official and non-official duties outside the United Kingdom, on behalf of the relevant state.