The First Non-aristocratic Commoner To Marry A British Heir

Her upcoming marriage to Prince William will give her a total makeover in terms of social status, while her extremely ordinary and middle class background accorded her with nothing but privacy, the royal marriage will provide her a charmed life in the spotlight and a comfortable room in the history of the United Kingdom.

Despite the fact that the Prince is the first future British king to marry a non-aristocratic woman, so far no opposition from the British subjects has heard as the wedding date gets nearer. It looks like they are already prepared to accept a commoner future Queen Consort.

The monarchy also loosely accepted the fact that the establishment indeed should welcome modern changes for its own survival, so Her Majesty granted permission to her immediate family marrying non-aristocrats.

The Royal Marriages Act of 1772  states that all descendants of King George III should seek the sovereign's approval first in order to make the marriage legal in Britain. King George III's descendants include all royals in the current European court.

After the wedding, Kate Middleton would outrank other titled women in the realms including Prince William's distant cousins (Lady Gabriella Windsor, Lady Davina Windsor etc.).

As a daughter of an untitled commoner, her status is placed in the bottom line of the social class system of Britain, but the marriage will pull her above the surface and will leap in the highest position in the Kingdom next to the Queen and senior female members of the royal family. Her future royal status will depend on Prince William’s title.

Traditionally, a senior male member of the royal family is always created a British Duke by the ruling sovereign upon marriage. Duke is the highest hereditary rank in British peerage and usually granted to the sons of the monarch.

Some speculated that the Prince might be created a Duke in his own right, suggested titles include: Duke of Sussex because he currently lived in the Sussex area in North Wales or Duke of Clarence because his father’s London residence is the Clarence House. Others even suggested Duke of Windsor, 

But I don’t think the Queen would grant this title to William as this is much related to her uncle, Edward VIII who was created the Duke of Windsor by her father, George VI, after he abdicated the throne. Using this title again might stir another controversy revisiting the shame and scandal endured by the monarchy during the abdication crisis in 1936.

If Prince William would become the Duke of Clarence, his future wife will be automatically called the Duchess of Clarence, but if the Prince would not accept any noble title as reported earlier, Kate Middleton would be known simply as Princess William but not Princess Catherine as she will not be created a Princess in her own right.

The last woman to be created Princess in her own right was Princess Alice, the dowager Duchess of Gloucester, she was the wife of Prince Henry, the Duke of Gloucester, younger brother of King George VI.

Princess Alice was born Lady Alice Montagu-Douglas Scott, daughter of the 6th Duke of Beauccleaugh. When her husband died in 1974 and in order to avoid confusion with her daughter in law, the new Duchess of Gloucester, she asked the Queen to allow her to use the title Princess, henceforth, she was known as Princess Alice of Gloucester. She died in 2003 at the age of 102.

Unlike other Kingdoms of Europe where a wife would consequently become a Princess upon marrying a Prince, in Great Britain marriage does not automatically create a woman a Princess in her own right.

In 1981, when Lady Diana Spencer married the Prince of Wales, Buckingham Palace office released an official statement regarding the status of the newly created Princess of Wales:

Following the marriage, she will be known as Her Royal Highness, Diana, the Princess of Wales, she is not Princess Diana because she was not born a Princess nor The Princess Diana because only children of the ruling sovereign have “The” before their names”, but people outside Great Britain who did not know the complexities of royal titles and its subtleties, continue calling her Princess Di (The Royals, Kitty Kelley, 1997).

So Miss Middleton would not be enjoying the fairytale title of a Princess upon her marriage, she might be known as the Princess of Wales when Prince Charles ascend the throne but she will never be created a Princess in her own right.

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