Pop culture

A Brief History of Royals Who Have Lost Their Titles

The King of Sweden just stripped five of his grandchildren of their royal highness status, and they aren't the only ones who have had this happen.
Reading time 4 minutes
Photos via Instagram

Yesterday, news broke that King Carl XVI Gustaf had removed five of his grandchildren's royal highness status. However, this didn't signal Swedish royal family drama: the move was a long-planned family decision, and the affected children (who descend from Prince Carl Philip and Princess Madeleine) will retain prince or princess titles and simply no longer will receive taxpayer funds or have to perform royal duties. The family welcomed the change as an opportunity for its youngest members to have greater choice as private individuals, marking another modernizing event for a monarchy that made their line of succession gender-neutral back in 1980.

As the past century of royal history across the world proves, losing (or simply not receiving) a royal title is a common occurrence, whether for marriage, personal choice, or the changing family dynamics resulting from monarchs (who typically have a lifetime position) having longer life expectancies. Below, see a few names who have preceded the Swedish royals in lessening some family members' official roles.

Archie Mountbatten-Windsor

When Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex announced they were expecting their first child, there was a lot of talk about what titles the new royal would ultimately receive. Unlikely to directly ascend to the throne, the baby wasn't automatically entitled to become a prince or princess, so the world was contemplating whether Queen Elizabeth II would make a special exception or if the child would receive a secondary title like the Earl of Dumbarton (which Harry shares). Ever the modern royals, the couple decided against giving their son a title at all and instead named him Archie Harrison Mountbatten Windsor, or "Master Archie" for short. 

The children of Princess Anne and Prince Edward

When one looks at the history of the modern British royals, Harry and Meghan's choice had a clear precedent. Two of the Queen's children, Princess Anne and Prince Edward, decided against making their children princes and princesses, opting to let them live a more normal life in accordance with their likely futures. Anne's children, Peter and Zara, do not have titles at all, while Edward's children, Lady Louise and James, Viscount Severn, go by secondary titles as happens with earls (the prince is currently not a duke). While the choices aligned with hierarchical guidelines, the Queen's children did show a clear preference for these ultimate results.

Edward VIII

Prince Harry wasn't the first one to fall in love with an American with a marriage history, though the international romance that preceded his did not have as warm of a reception. Back in 1936, not even being the king could protect Edward VIII from the controversy over his desire to wed divorced socialite Wallis Simpson. Due to opposition from prime ministers and the Church of England, it would be impossible for the monarch to easily remain on the throne after going through with the marriage, so he decided to abdicate and pass his position to his brother, who became George VI.

The Japanese Princesses

The Japanese royal family has rules in place that indicate its female members must give up their titles if they marry someone who is not already royal or aristocratic. Princess Ayako, who is a child of Prince Takamado, one of Emperor Akihito's cousins, did not let this stop her from tying the knot with Kei Moriya, who works in the shipping industry, last year. Shortly after completing her graduate degree in social work, it did not surprise many that Ayako chose love over title. Her new life isn't rough as she still receives about $950,000 a year, but she otherwise has moved away from royal duties. The emperor's daughter, Princess Sayako, had made a similar move in 2005, and Princess Mako will follow suit if she marries fiancé Kei Komuro, but those plans are currently on hold over a financial dispute.

Juan Carlos I

After Spain reestablished its constitutional monarchy in 1978, King Juan Carlos I enjoyed a popular reign for nearly 40 years as he helped his country in its transition to democracy. After some scandals and minor health problems, the monarch decided to abdicate the throne in 2014, citing the reason for his decision to be personal out of a combination of his aging status and his desire for his son to have a long reign. He closely followed Pope Benedict XVI, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, and King Albert II of Belgium in this move, highlighting a trend towards a retirement of sorts for those with lifetime positions. Juan Carlos I retired from official duties altogether in June 2019.

related posts

Recommended posts for you