Prince Archie of Sussex and the George V Convention of 1917

The Titles & Styles of the Modern British Royal Family

Styles and titles of, and for, the British Royal family are not dictated by race, skin colour, or damning assumptions by recently new members of the family, that genetic composition will somehow compromise the right to such a Royal title. Much has been inferred and speculated about the Royal family since the controversial and Royally explosive interview between American chat show host, Oprah Winfrey, and The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, in regard to race and skin colour within the British Royal family. With overtones of institutional racism, undertones of Royal white supremacy, and a confident assertion that Archie Mountbatten-Windsor has been denied the title and style of “Prince” of the United Kingdom based on his colour, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have highlighted their own ignorance as to how styles and titles within their own family work. Harry should certainly be better educated and know better, having his very own title given to him by the George V Convention of 1917. For as much as the current sympathetic atmosphere within the United States and other western countries that are in defence of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex would like to believe and weaponise the assumption that the race of a child has dictated his “Royal” status, or lack thereof, by the denial of the title of “Prince”, this is simply not the case.
Little Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, first born to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, is not the victim of Royal bigotry and institutional racism because he is the offspring of a white father and a bi-racial mother – the truth is simplistic and a lot less dramatic, sorry to disappoint. Archie is not being denied a title or his” birth right” due to the question or appearance of his skin colour as suggested by The Duchess of Sussex, rather that he is bound by the governing body of rules and regulations set in place for members of the British Royal family through the George V Convention of 1917. This convention is not founded on, or based in genetics, or the colour of skin, but the placement of birth for members within the Royal family regardless of their skin colour. As Archie was born into the Royal family, and is in line for the British throne, he too must be subject to the governance bestowed upon those of Royal birth, regardless of his genetic/racial make-up. Archie by birth right is entitled to be styled The Earl of Dumbarton, however The Duke and Duchess of Sussex decided not to bestow this title upon their son at birth as they could have done. There were also other options available to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex where titles for Archie were to be considered, such as one of Prince Harry’s other subsidiary titles, or the good ole British staple “Lord” Archie Mountbatten-Windsor. Eventually the question of Archie’s title will be resolved by the 1917 Convention, as Archie will succeed his father as Duke of Sussex, and before that he could be styled “Prince” upon the accession to the throne of his grandfather, Charles, Prince of Wales. It is simply not true that little Archie has been kept from his style and title as is his birth right, however the time and place for Archie to assume such styles and titles has not yet come according to the Royal rules of his life.
One hundred and four years ago, in 1917, King George V, the Queen’s grandfather issued a decree through new letters patent that limited the number of members within the Royal family with the title, His, or Her Royal Highness. This decree stated that ‘the children of any Sovereign of these Realms 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’. The Letter patent through George V mean that when, and only when HRH Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, become King, all of his grandchildren, including Archie, will all automatically become Princes or Princesses of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.  The decree also stated, ‘grandchildren of the sons of any such Sovereign in the direct male line… shall have and enjoy in all occasions the style and title enjoyed by the children of Dukes of these Our Realms. It therefore is proven under the George V rules, that Archie Mountbatten-Windsor is entitled to be styled and titles “His Royal Highness” and “Prince” when, and only when his grandfather Charles, Prince of Wales, accedes to the throne.
The decree continued, ‘save as aforesaid the style title or attribute of Royal Highness, Highness or Serene Highness and the titular dignity of Prince or Princess shall not henceforth be assumed or borne by any descendant of any Sovereign of these Realms. The George V Convention with issued Letters Patent of 1917 established the practice within the Royal family that sons and daughters of the monarch, and those whose father is a son of the monarch are entitled to be called Prince. Contrary to what The Duchess of Sussex has stated, it is this set of laws which govern styles and titles for members of the Royal family from birth, not the colour of their skin and/or genetic make-up. Under the rules and guidelines set forth by George V’s decree, only His Royal Highness, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Her Royal Highness, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge’s eldest son, Prince George, as a great-grandson of the monarch within the direct line of succession to the throne, should be the only offspring of his parents entitled to be styled “Prince”.  In addition to letters patent issued by Her Majesty in 1952, 1960 and 1996, the letters patent of 2012 changed the Law of Royal Succession to absolute primogeniture through new Letters Patent issued by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II before the birth of Prince George in 2013. These letters patent made sure that all children of the Prince of Wales’s eldest son were entitled to be styled and titled Princes and Princesses of the Realm. In the attempt to modernise the ways of the Royal family and bring women’s equality into the twenty-first century, this change followed other progressive continental monarchies such as Sweden, which levelled the playing field for future generations of Royal heirs by allowing a first born girl to remain heir to the throne, and not be passed over in the event a boy was born after.
Such a change to the governance of the Royal family and the line of succession was deemed necessary by Her Majesty, as it provided that if the Duchess of Cambridge’s firstborn had been a girl, she would be ahead of any younger brother in the line of succession. Had absolute primogeniture not been included within the letters patent of 2012, the girl born first to the Duchess of Cambridge would be titled a Lady, while her younger brother would rise above her to become a Prince. The letters patent issued by the Queen in 2012 meant that Prince William’s other children, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis received the titles of Princess and Prince. Had the Queen not issued new letters patent containing such changes, Princess Charlotte would be styled “Lady” and Prince Louis, “Lord” without the styles and titles of Royal Highness, together with Prince and Princess. Despite Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis being the children of a future monarch, Archie is not, and he will continuously move down the Royal line of succession when the Cambridge children begin to have their own families.
The styles and titles of the Queen’s other children besides the Prince of Wales, her grandchildren and great grandchildren are not be be ignored, as the George V Convention of 1917 was altered before the marriage of His Royal Highness, Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, the Queen’s youngest son, to then Sophie Rhys-Jones in 1999. The 1917 Convention provides titles for the children of Prince Edward as a son of the Monarch, the same as it does for Prince Andrew’s children Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie. However on the morning of the wedding of Prince Edward to Sophie Rhys-Jones, Buckingham Palace issued a statement that broke with Royal tradition by creating Prince Edward an Earl rather than a Duke. Prince Edward was gifted the title Earl of Wessex, with the intention that he would in time be created Duke of Edinburgh after his father, Prince Philip’s death, and the accession of Prince Charles to the throne. This statement from the Palace, which was agreed to by the Earl and Countess of Wessex, also made provision for their offspring, denying them the style of His or Her Royal Highness in favour of the styles bestowed to children of an Earl. This 1999 change to the George V Convention of 1917 makes Prince Edward’s children the first male-line descendants of the Queen not to bare any Royal titles, and in accordance with the1960 Order-in-Council issued by He Majesty, the children of Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, are the first to be allowed the proper use of the Mountbatten-Windsor family name. As a result of the issuance by the Queen of this statement, Prince Edward and Sophie’s daughter is titled The Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor, as opposed to HRH Princess Louise of Wessex, and their son is named and titled James, Viscount Severn, who uses his father’s subsidiary title as a courtesy and is not HRH Prince James of Wessex.
Like James, Archie Mountbatten-Windsor is entitled to a subsidiary title of his father’s as a courtesy. His Royal Highness, Prince Andrew, Duke of York’s daughters, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, were bestowed Royal titles by the George V Convention of 1917 because their father is a son of the Monarch, however the George V convention also make concessions for Her Royal Highness, Princess Ann, The Princess Royal, and her children Peter and Zara Philips. Peter Phillips and his sister Zara Tindall, Nee Philips, as the children of the Queen’s only daughter, do not bear Royal titles in accordance with the 1917 letters patent, and neither do their offspring, because their father, Captain Mark Phillips, is not the son of the Monarch and therefore does not have a title to pass down to his children. Due to the George V Convention of 1917, the rules that the Royal family must abide by in regard to the styles and titles they bear, are well outlined and thoroughly practiced through precedent. This precedent did not in 1917, and does not in 2021, refer to race, colour, or genetic make-up, ergo, the insinuation by Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, supported by Prince Harry, that their son Archie has been denied a title due to the colour of his skin, is nothing more than a fallacy born out of their own feelings of inadequacy, fuelled by their own narcissism, and weaponised to defend their own agenda of celebrity selfishness.

Article provided by Thomas Mace-Archer-Mills, Host of Royal Round-up on Crown & Country Radio, Editor in Chief of Crown & Country Magazine, and Founder of the British Monarchists Society. Thomas founded Crown & Country Radio as a supplement to Crown & Country Magazine and the British Monarchists Society.  Known as “Mr. Monarchy”, he is best known for the creation of the 2015 “Realms Portrait” for Her Majesty, and organising the 2017 Royal Wedding of Prince Philip of Serbia in Belgrade. He is most known for his live commentary at the Royal Wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex at Windsor Castle in 2018.