With the expected Royal baby, there will be a kinship situation that hasn’t existed since Queen Victoria reigned.
There will be 3 generations of direct heirs apparent to the throne: the Prince of Wales, Prince William and Prince William’s child. Like Victoria, Queen Elizabeth’s children have become grandparents while she is still on the throne.
In December 2012 the line of succession was changed in law to simply the firstborn of the heir. It had previously been the eldest son. If the first child was a girl, she was heir only if she never had a brother. That is easy enough to grasp. It’s a second change made by the Queen to titles that’s less well known. When I saw headlines that William and Kate’s baby, if a girl, would be a Princess, I didn’t understand why she wouldn’t be already.
Until now, only the eldest son of the Prince of Wales’ eldest son had the title Prince. His sisters and younger brothers were known as Lady or Lord. William and Kate’s baby will be in that position, great-grandchild of the Queen, from the Prince of Wale’s eldest son. By the change in succession rules made in December, that child, whether a boy or girl, will be in line for the throne after William. The title change means she will be HRH Princess Baby, not The Lady Baby. So too will her siblings, for this applies to all the children of the Prince of Wales’ direct heir.
All children of a monarch are Prince or Princess. The children of the monarch’s sons are also Prince or Princess, but daughters’ children take their titles from their fathers. For the great-grandchildren, only the eldest son of the 3rd in line for the throne was called Prince. Titles follow the male line, with the exception of the children of a regnant Queen. I made this simplified chart (above) of who would have what title. The chart below shows the current Royal Family with their primary titles (click on charts to enlarge).
The good thing about being Queen is you can give people titles. So, for example, the Queen made Antony Armstrong-Jones an Earl before he married her sister Princess Margaret. Margaret’s children inherited their titles from him. Mark Phillips, when he married Princess Anne, chose not to receive a title. Therefore their children, while in the line of succession, have no titles. Also, if you have several titles, you can choose which you wish to use and pass on. So the Queen and her son Prince Edward decided on Earl of Wessex for him when he married, instead of the customary dukedom. He then chose that lesser title to use in giving his children titles. So, although technically they are prince and princess, they are known as Lord and Lady.
A Princess born into the royal family continues to be called Princess and takes her husband’s titles. A Prince’s wife, if a commoner, becomes princess but the title is not put before her own name. Diana was never ‘Princess Diana’, she was ‘Diana, Princess of Wales’ for example. She can also go by another title of his, as Kate did with Duchess of Cambridge. If her husband has no other titles, she is known as Princess his name, as with Princess Michael of Kent (the Queen’s cousin by marriage).
Down the road, another matter will need to be addressed if the child is a girl. The monarch’s eldest daughter may be named Princess Royal. Unlike Prince of Wales that is a temporary title, Princess Royal is given for life. Anne is the Princess Royal, and will remain so until her death. The previous Princess Royal was Mary, daughter of George V. As it stands, William’s heir eventually could be both Prince of Wales and Princess Royal.
I hope the baby is a girl. I’d like to see these historic changes play out. I read that they may include Elizabeth and Diana as middle names for a girl, but nothing on her first name. My money is on Victoria. It’s a “queenly” name and it would give us a Victoria II.
I found these websites helpful: “Would Prince William’s…?; “…title [of] daughter of a princess?”; Monarchist League NB Jan. 2013 Queen Letters Patent; House of Windsor family tree; Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent; HRH Prince Michael of Kent.