The Queen has announced that if Prince William and his pregnant wife Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, have a daughter, she will hold the title of princess.
The official announcement updates royal protocol rules made almost a century ago.
Before today’s change — as per the existing rules stated in a proclamation issued by King George V in December 1917 — only William and Kates’ eldest son would have been entitled to be called a prince.
Under the old rules, a girl would only be titled “Lady” and would not have been known as “Her Royal Highness.”
According to Reuters, the Queen issued a “Letters Patent” — a form of royal announcement — in order to make the change so that William and Kate’s children would be treated equally, whatever their gender.
Prince William, 3o, is the son of Prince Charles, the current heir to the throne. William is next in line to succeed after his father.
“All the children of the eldest son of The Prince of Wales (Charles) should have and enjoy the style, title and attribute of Royal Highness with the titular dignity of Prince or Princess prefixed to their Christian names or with such other titles of honour.”
A “letters patent” allows a monarch to make alterations or proclamations without the need for parliamentary consent, and it was the method used to bestow Prince William with the title of Duke of Cambridge when he married Kate in April 2011.
The change today is in line with last year’s announcement that the Rules of Succession would be changed across Britain and 15 other Commonwealth countries. It ensures that a male child of William and Kate and their children will no longer have precedence as an heir, People notes.
Kate, who is thought to be 12 weeks into her pregnancy, celebrated her 31st birthday yesterday privately following her hospitalization for acute morning sickness in December last year.