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Thursday, January 06, 2022

Some thoughts on Prince Andrew: his styles and titles

 Some thoughts on what might become of Prince Andrew, particularly his royal styles, and titles and his peerages. 

In July, 1986, on his marriage to Sarah Ferguson, HRH The Prince Andrew was created Baron Killyleagh, Earl of Inverness and Duke of York, all in the Peerage of the United Kingdom, with remainder to the heirs male of his body 'lawfully begotten' (that is legitimate). The earldom and dukedom had previously been held, until his accession, by the Queen's father, King George VI. The peerages are destined to become extinct on Andrew's death because his daughters cannot inherit under the terms of the Letters Patent. The Dukedom of York, traditionally bestowed on the sovereign's second son, would one day be expected to be conferred on the second son of a future monarch, such as Prince Louis of Cambridge. But is the historic York title now tainted?

There is no precedent for the removal of peerages other than by specific Acts of Parliament, or by attainder. The term “attainder” derives from the Norman-French “attaindre”, meaning to convict. It deprived those subjected to it of all civil rights and rendered their descendants ineligible to inherit. Attainder was regularly imposed by the Plantagenet Kings and later by the Tudors in abundance upon troublesome peers seen as a threat to the Crown.

Under King William III eighteen people fell victim to attainder, and King George I penalised 56 individuals alleged to have participated in the 1715 Jacobite Rising; and one attainder under King George II, was directed against 43 people involved in the rising of 1745, led by Bonnie Prince Charlie.

Attainder as a penalty was abolished in 1870 and the Acts of Attainder imposed on those who participated in the rebellions of 1715 and 1745 were repealed in 1977, but the peerages of the rebels were not restored to their heirs.

The Duke of York's own ancestors could be said to have gained the throne of Gt Britain because of attainder.  The Act of Settlement which, when first implemented in 1714, excluded the first 53 heirs to the throne on the grounds of Roman Catholicism, and saw the succession of George, Elector of Hanover to the throne left vacant by the death of his distant cousin, Queen Anne.

The Titles Deprivation Act of 1917 was enacted to remove peerages and royal titles held by enemies of the United Kingdom in the First World War. Several of King George V's royal cousins, living in Germany, and on the side of Germany in the conflict, fell victim to this act.

It is an anomaly that although the Queen is 'fountain of all honour' with the power to create peerages and award knighthoods, it seems it isn't straightforward when it comes to the removal of peerages. For the Duke of York to be deprived of his three peerages an Act of Parliament would necessarily have to be brought before the House of Commons and then the Lords, and then the act would receive Royal Assent from his mother, the Queen.

Orders of Knighthood can however be struck off by the Queen without specific legislation. The Duke of York is a Royal Knight Companion of the Order of the Garter and a Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order. Knighthoods are always withdrawn for those found guilty of serious crime. In its long history many Knights of the Garter have been deprived of the Garter, most recently in May, 1915, when King George V struck the names of seven German and Austrian royals (some of whom had never been British) from the roll of Garter knights. Similarly, Prince Andrew's membership of the Royal Victorian Order can be rescinded by order of the Queen.

The Duke of York's styles and titles of Royal Highness and Prince of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland can be withdrawn by Royal Royal Warrant, Letters Patent, or Orders in Council. For instance in 1996 the Queen issued Letters Patent removing the HRH from former wives of male descendants of the sovereign who enjoy the princely style and title. Letters Patent specifically naming Prince Andrew would be required here.

But, what then for the Queen's second son? If no longer a prince or a duke what would he be? As the younger son of the late Duke of Edinburgh he would be Lord Andrew Albert Christian Edward Mountbatten-Windsor. When King Edward VIII abdicated the throne in 1936 to marry Mrs Wallis Simpson, his future status caused much rancour. Immediately after signing the instrument of abdication he fell into a no mans land regarding his status. Was he Mr Edward Windsor? It was pointed out that he was born the son of a duke [his father was Duke of York at the time of his birth] and therefore might be 'Lord Edward Windsor', but but very soon it was decided that the former King Emperor was 'The Prince Edward'. His dukedom of Windsor followed some months later.

Until the birth of Prince Andrew's great-nephew, Archie, in 2019, all sons of dukes were without exception afforded the courtesy title of 'Lord', and daughters 'Lady'. However, when the Duchess of Sussex gave birth to Archie it was announced that the Queen's great-grandson would be known as Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, with no courtesy title. Similarly the Sussex's daughter, Lilibet, has been born without the appellation of 'Lady'.

We are in unprecedented territory now. Andrew may well spend the rest of his days as a Prince of the UK, and as a Royal Duke, or as Mr Mountbatten-Windsor. All depends on the outcome of the law suit against him, future declarations from his mother The Queen, and of course the swell of public opinion.

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