Royal titles deemed ‘more of a hindrance than benefit’ since Princess Anne’s bold move

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Princess Anne, 70, set a new royal precedent when she rejected Queen Elizabeth II’s offer of royal titles for her children Zara Tindall, 39, and Peter Phillips, 42, following their births. Anne was the first-ever child of a presiding sovereign not to take titles for her offspring but in doing so sparked something of a royal trend.

A constitutional expert has claimed Anne’s bold move was “imminently sensible” and that in modern times “a title can prove more of a hindrance than a benefit.”

Expert Iain MacMarthanne has claimed that Anne’s decision was ahead of its time and brought the monarchy up to date.

Anne’s refusal of a title for her first husband Captain Mark Phillips following their wedding in 1973, hinted that she might do the same for their children.

Mr MacMarthanne told “With the birth of Princess Anne and Mark Phillips’ first son Peter in 1977, and daughter Zara 1981, they continued to eschew titles for the grandchildren of the Queen.”

He added: “There had been an earlier precedent of this decision when Princess Alexandra of Kent married Angus Ogilvy, and they too had refused a title.

“However, in the case of Anne, this was the first time that the child of a sovereign had taken this decision.”

Mr MacMarthanne claimed Anne’s history-making move set the tone for royal parents to come.

The expert said: “As with any action a precedent is set and the use and application of royal titles, or the granting of new titles, is a case in point.”

According to Mr MacMarthanne the refusal of titles for lesser royals ties in with “an understanding of the changing role of the monarchy.”

Mr MacMarthanne said: “Clearly in recent years the decision not to accept, or use titles, has been driven by an understanding of the changing role of the monarchy, and the life a member of the family can expect to lead.

“In real terms, a title can prove more of a hindrance than a benefit.”

Mr MacMarthanne claimed Anne’s “sensible” decision made it easier for royal parents to free their children from the “limitations a title might bring.”


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The expert added: “Accordingly, in a world less driven by social protocol and deference it seems imminently sensible that members of the family, who will not have a front line role, are not encumbered by the limitations a title might bring.

“Certainly this has been the common explanation given by those who have refused titles, allowing their children instead to pursue a more private life, albeit in a public way, whilst remaining a member of the wider royal family.”

According to Mr MacMarthanne, the precedent set by Anne allowed her nephew Prince Harry and younger brother Prince Edward to move further away from royal title traditions when it came to their children.

He said: “Without doubt, the Princess Royal’s decision in the 1970s brought the precedent closer to the crown, and has enabled her brother Prince Edward and nephew Prince Harry to push its limits still further creating, in her wake, new ones.”

Mr MacMarthanne explained: “This has been seen in her brother, the Earl of Wessex and Forfar, rejecting the HRH prefix for his children and instead of having his son use his courtesy title Viscount Severn rather than prince.”

Mr MacMarthanne said: “The Duke of Sussex meanwhile has pushed it still further in respect of his son who does not even use his father’s courtesy title.”

Prince Edward’s children Lady Louise Windsor, 16, and James, Viscount Severn will be able to choose whether or not to use their HRH styles when they turn 18.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s son Archie Harrison will automatically become a prince upon Prince Charles’s accession to the throne.

However, whether or not Archie uses the title will be up to him when he reaches adulthood.

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