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Byter Lyn asked me why Prince Andrew’s kids are called Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, yet Prince Edward’s kids aren’t called Prince and Princess. It does seem a bit rough, especially when Michael Jackson’s lad is named Prince and the Artist Formerly Known As had the name and dropped it. So I rang Edward and asked him why the royal rugrats don’t have a proper title like the rest of the royal and I obtained some interesting information. (I made up the part about ringing him).
• To have the title Prince or Princess, you must be of the royal blood. Hence Charles, Anne, Andrew and Edward all have the title. Diana’s correct moniker was not Princess Diana but Lady Diana, Princess of Wales.
• Edward has always been something of an odd man out. Born in 1964, he joined the Marines to become an officer but resigned when he decided that khaki was not for him. Instead, he worked with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Theatre Company where he was part of the production effort for Phantom of the Opera, Cats and Starlight Express.
• Eddy set up Ardent Productions 1993 to produce documentaries and dramas but it was voluntarily wound up in 2009. These days he focuses on public and royal duties, often standing in for his father, the Duke of Edinburgh, who is now aged 90.
• On 1999 Edward married Sophie Rhys-Jones. Traditionally the Queen confers the title of Duke on royal males when they wed, just as Prince William became Duke of Cambridge last week. This title, the highest in the peerage list, was to have gone to Edward but he politely declined, asking instead for the title Earl of Wessex. Reportedly he was attracted to the title after watching Shakespeare in Love where Colin Firth played the Earl of Wessex. He was granted both his request and the title. Sophie is now the Countess of Wessex.
• And the kids? Edward and Sophie have elected not to have their children, James and Louise, use the titles Prince and Princess although their official titles are His Royal Highness Prince James and Her Royal Highness Princess Louise of Wessex. By agreement with Her Maj, Edward and Sophie have limited the titling to Viscount Severn (Edward’s second title) and Lady Louise. They are therefore peers and not royals. The word on the street is that Edward and Sophie feel that there will be less pressure on their children growing up when they are not burdened with the Prince and Princess titles. They can, if they wish, assume the titles in their own right when they turn 18.
• They are not unique. Princess Anne, known as the Princess Royal, the title given to the sovereign’s oldest daughter, has also declined royal titles for her children. They are merely Peter Phillips and Zara Phillips. The children of Prince Michael of Kent, a cousin of the Queen, are called just "Lady" and "Lord”. The husband of Princess Alexandra of Kent, also a cousin of the Queen, declined an earldom with the result that their children did not have heritable titles to pass on to their children and are just "Mr." and "Miss".
• There has been another suggestion as to the non-use of the royal titles. Edward’s great-grandfather George V had wanted only the children of the monarch and male heirs to pass down royal titles. This feeling surfaced again in the 1990’s when there was criticism of the financial benefits afforded the Royal Family, including pressure on the Queen to pay taxes and to cut down the numbers of royals in the Civil List. There were even pressures to remove the title of Princess from Andrew’s daughters, a move strongly opposed by Andrew. Edward and Sophie saw how the wind was blowing and decided against use of the royal titles, thereby keeping down the number of royals and at the same time giving their children a measure of privacy, not a bad move for kids who will need to work for a living.
• By the way, Prince Michael Joseph Jackson, the late Michael Jackson’s son, is named after Michael Jackson’s forebears named Prince Screws. Jackson’s great-great-grandfather was named Prince Screws, as was his great-grandfather, and his grandfather was Prince Albert Screws. I kid you not. His mother was named Kattie B Screws but, when she was four, her dad changed the family name to Scruse. As far as I am able to determine, he retained the name Prince Albert, possibly because the name had a ring to it.
• Also, the full name of The Artist Formerly Known As is Prince Rogers Nelson.