Analysis: Royal babies, titles and succession

Duchess of Cambridge meets parents and baby The joy of pregnancy is likely to be tempered by the duchess' acute morning sickness

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Theresa May can breathe a sigh of relief. On top of the terrorist threat and police commissioners, she does not have to add next year's royal birth to her in-tray.

Other home secretaries have not been so fortunate.

Back in 1926, Sir William Joynson-Hicks had to be present for the birth of the then Princess Elizabeth while he was also dealing with a bitter dispute in the coal mines.

A tradition, which goes back into the mists of time when it was the custom for government ministers to hang around the private apartments of royalty at significant moments, was abandoned in 1948.

So, the Duchess of Cambridge will be spared the indignity of a politician in the delivery room.

But this pregnancy, rather like the wedding in April 2011, will be far from private.

The couple would have liked to have delayed this afternoon's announcement by several weeks.

The much-speculated next step in a royal romance

Kate is around two months pregnant. But William knew that once his wife was admitted to hospital, the world would have to be let in on their secret.

Before the news went global, the Queen and the Prince of Wales had to be told. The 86-year-old monarch will become a great-grandmother for the third time.

By the middle of next year, her heir will have to get used to a new title to add to the many others he has acquired through the years. Grandad.

When Charles is next seen in public he is bound to be asked for his reaction.

Those around him will be hoping he performs better than when the engagement was announced and William's father told reporters: "Obviously thrilled. They've been practising for long enough".

William and Kate will be delighted. They have talked about having a family from the moment their engagement was announced.

Their joy will obviously be tempered by concern over the morning sickness the duchess is suffering from.

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It is the great unsaid. As one historian put it, the first "duty and ambition" of someone in Kate's position is to get pregnant”

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Diana, Princess of Wales, suffered badly from morning sickness when she was pregnant with her elder son.

As well as their personal pleasure, the couple will know they are also living up to public expectations.

It is the great unsaid. As one historian put it, the first "duty and ambition" of someone in Kate's position is to get pregnant.

Their child will be third-in-line to the throne. Prince Harry, who will be an uncle, was told the news in Afghanistan, via e-mail.

His position in the order of succession will move down and his importance to the monarchy will reduce once the birth has taken place.

If the baby is a girl, the government believe she will make royal history.

They intend to change the ancient laws which place males ahead of females in the line of succession.

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge kiss on balcony at their wedding The couples spoke about their desire to start a family when they announced their engagement

They want the first born, if she's a girl, to one day be queen.

As recently as June, Nick Clegg was insistent the change on gender would apply even if the birth was before legislation was actually passed.

The announcement on Monday will focus minds. The law needs to be changed in Britain and in the 15 other countries where the Queen still reigns.

When a royal is born, the parents do not just have to think about names but also titles. That is when it becomes complicated.

George V decreed in 1917 that the titles "Royal Highness" (HRH) and prince and princess should be restricted to the children of the sovereign; the children of the sovereign's sons; and the eldest son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales.

Under this formula, a son for William and Kate would become a prince; but there's no provision for a daughter's title.

Despite this however, Buckingham Palace is insistent any girl will become a princess.

The challenge of names and titles is for the future.

For now, the hope in royal circles will be that the future of the monarchy has been secured for another generation.

Peter Hunt Article written by Peter Hunt Peter Hunt Diplomatic and royal correspondent

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  • rate this

    Comment number 186.

    Great news for William and Kate. Worrying they had to reveal the pregnancy before the 12 week scan. Fingers crossed all goes well for them both. Welcome news about the change to the first born but definately not in favour of the other stuff. I share the same concerns as #181....why on earth should we ask a Pope if he approves? Why does he care who our King or Quenn will be?

  • rate this

    Comment number 185.

    Presumably this change will cascade down the lower ranks of the nobility. Estates are currently left to the male heir to keep the family linage and retain a single succession of the main assets - how will this be affected ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 184.

    If true, this is great news for Scotland as it would invalidate the treaty of union, thus annulling the UK and saving the bother of a referendum campaign.

  • rate this

    Comment number 183.

    Magpie Warrior, is republicanism about reason or clairvoyance? Just 7% in NI want to join the republic, Oz republicanism is in headlong retreat, and its all quiet in Jamaica. Apart from the regal nation states, most larger republics have monarchies within-South Africa Nigeria Ghana Uganda Kenya India Indonesia. Other republics are busily adopting Royal symbols. The child's heritage is assured.

  • rate this

    Comment number 182.

    Who has agreed this ? A coalition government of two parties with no overall majority is changing a 1000 year old succession law without any consultation at all. Nick Clegg thinks its a good idea - he also thought not increasing student fees was a good idea and then did a u-turn !!! My problem is not with the change which I support but with the process - it stinks.

  • rate this

    Comment number 181.

    (154)Canon law 1124 and 1125 make clear that the Catholic party in a mixed marriage must promise to raise any children as Roman Catholics. They further show that special authority is required before the mixed marriage can go ahead. Thus the future monarch of the UK requires the consent of a foreign power before he or she marries a Roman Catholic and the offspring must be raised as Roman Catholics.

  • rate this

    Comment number 180.

    What a slap in the face to Edwards kids, Lady Louise and Viscount Severn if William and Kate's kid is styled Prince or Princess. Hopefully when Louise and James come of age they will insist on being styled after the 1917 letters patent, which they are blatantly entitled to being the children of the Queen's son.

  • rate this

    Comment number 179.

    165. JamieH90

    "Henry VIII will spin in his grave if it's a girl."

    In that case, he has been spinning since 1553 when his daughter Mary ascended the throne!

  • rate this

    Comment number 178.

    Oh bye the way, Peter, it's sex not gender!

  • rate this

    Comment number 177.

    Further to my 169. It is true that the Constitution prevented the King marrying a divorcee. This was the view of the majority of people in 1936.

    However, many of the "Aristocracy" objected on the grounds she was American and didn't understand the "system".

    However, the hypocrisy lay in the fact many of the nobles had taken American wives to bring money into their impoverished ranks!

  • rate this

    Comment number 176.

    With Cameron & Clegg keen to change the law they have not spoken of surnames for the royal Family should a future heir be a girl. Prince Philip was uneasy about that and more or less insisted that the current surname be Mountbatten-Windsor. Would a third name be added on the marriage of a female heir? Or a new name entirely?

    It will be interesting to see how this law is drafted.

  • rate this

    Comment number 175.

    174. MakeEveryDayCount

    #171 Magpie. Monarchy is already an outdated anachronism yet I wouldn't count on it ending. Windsors are hitting right notes.
    So, if the majority of the people wish to retain the monarchy, this is democracy in action, no?

  • rate this

    Comment number 174.

    #171 Magpie. Monarchy is already an outdated anachronism yet I wouldn't count on it ending. Windsors are hitting right notes.

  • Comment number 173.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 172.

    170. KG

    "What if it's twins (or more), and a ceasarian is necessary? Then the obstetrician would get to choose our future monarch!"

    I think the mother might have something to say about the obstetrician fumbling around with the babies in her uterus just to choose the first born!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 171.

    @moses the point I was trying to make was that if they have a girl it is very unlikely she'll ever be Queen anyway, with the prospect being so far in the distant future, and there are very likely to be great social changes that will make the monarchy an outdated anachronism by then, anyway; I predict Wills may be the last ever monarch, though it's quite possible that 'honour' will go to his dad.

  • rate this

    Comment number 170.

    "Yes, but what happens if the Duchess of Cambridge gives birth to twins - or more ?"

    First out has precedence. But that does raise the question: what if it's twins (or more), and a caesarian is necessary? Then the obstetrician would get to choose our future monarch!

  • rate this

    Comment number 169.

    166. Renee

    "Thought that an old king had to given up the old throne to marry an American."

    Not so. The crux of the Abdication crisis was that she was twice divorced; not that she was an American.

  • rate this

    Comment number 168.

    There are all sorts of ramifications to dropping male primogeniture. In a hundred years time marriage may be quite rare. If our then queen were to produce a child, would it automatically succeed to the throne, irrespective of the identity of the father?

  • rate this

    Comment number 167.

    157. PL

    "Exactly why are [sic] the Commonwealth deciding on the succession to the British throne?"

    They are not. They are deciding on the Accession to the Sovereignty of their own country e.g. Queen of Canada. The UK Parliament will decide on the British throne.

    "Why is NZ gathering permissions from the other states."

    It was asked by the all the Commonwealth countries to coordinate.


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