As you’ve probably noticed at royal weddings and other major events, Queen Elizabeth has quite a large family. Without even taking into account her parents (King George VI and the Queen Mother) or her sister Princess Margaret, Elizabeth’s own children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren take up a lot of space on the family tree — and of course, those genealogy lines are only growing longer: Prince Louis was born in April 2018, and Prince Harry is expecting his first child with Meghan Markle.
Let’s break it down starting with the queen’s four children: Prince Charles was born first, followed soon by his sister Princess Anne, then their younger brothers Prince Andrew and Prince Edward. We are all well aware of Charles’ sons, Prince William and Harry, and we recently celebrated the royal wedding of one of Andrew’s daughters, Princess Eugenie. His oldest daughter, Princess Beatrice, was also by her sister’s side on the big day. As the youngest brother, Prince Edward’s children are known by the royal titles Lady Louise Windsor and James, Viscount Severn.
You might have noticed we skipped over Princess Anne and her children in that long list of grandkids. Although Anne retains the title of Princess Royal, neither of her children were given any title at the time of their birth. That’s because of an ancient law (which has now been revoked) that only allowed royal titles to be given to the children of male heirs. Though if we’re being fair to Queen Elizabeth, she did offer to give Anne’s first husband, Mark Phillips, an honorary title at the time of her wedding. She extended the same offer when Peter Phillips and Zara Phillips were born — but Anne always turned her down. It might sound strange to us for someone to refuse a lofty title, but Anne wanted her children to grow up feeling as normal as possible — or as “normal” as any kid can realisitcally be while the queen is still their grandma (and a doting one, judging by photographs of the family over the years).
That said, Peter and Zara seem perfectly content to do without being called prince and princess. Zara has actually talked about how grateful she is that her parents made the decision. According to People, she explained in 2015, “I’m very lucky that both my parents decided to not use the title and we grew up and did all the things that gave us the opportunity to do.” Both Peter and Zara have their own children now, who often join Prince George and Princess Charlotte as members of royal wedding parties. Peter is a successful businessman while Zara made a name for herself as an accomplished equestrian (she even earned a silver medal during the 2012 London Olympics for her skills).
Now we just have to wait and see if Prince Harry and Meghan will follow suit with their own little one on the way. Perhaps aunt Anne has already given them some advice on how the lack of an official title helped her kids feel normal as they grew up. Princess Diana always tried to do the same for her princely sons, so there’s certainly a chance the next royal baby will go without a title just like Peter and Zara.