Here's Why James and Louise Mountbatten-Windsor are not HRH

James The Earl of Wessex

Along with the new ducal title of Prince Edward, the Duke of Edinburgh comes the confusion on the courtesy style of his two children, Lady Louise and James Mountbatten-Windsor. 

Some royal pages began calling James HRH or His Royal Highness. Actually both children of Prince Edward, despite being grandchildren of the British monarch in the male line, are not styled as HRH.

James The Earl of Wessex
The new Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh and their children 

Although technically Louise is Princess Louise and James is Prince James by virtue of the "King George V Convention of 1917", it was, however, decided in 1999, a personal decision of the Earl and Countess of Wessex, with the approval of Queen Elizabeth II, that their children will not be given the courtesy style of HRH and will not be known as prince and princess but will only assume the status of children of a British earl.

Prince Edward and Sophie's reason then was to spare their children from the trappings of royalty and allow them to live a normal life. 

The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh
Prince Edward, Lady Louise, Sophie, and James

Thus, Louise is simply known as Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor and her brother, James, Viscount Severn, the secondary title of Prince Edward bestowed by the Queen in 1999.

Louise and James grew up out of the limelight and were only seen when their parents took them to Balmoral or Sandringham during royal breaks. 

In an interview in 2020, Sophie, now the Duchess of Edinburgh, explained why her children are not carrying the style of His or Her Royal Highness. 

"We try to bring them up with the understanding that they are very likely to have to work for a living," the Countess of Wessex said. "Hence we made the decision not to use HRH titles. They have them and can decide to use them from 18, but it’s highly unlikely."

James Mountbatten-Windsor the Earl of Wessex
The Earl of Wessex 

On March 10, 2023, King Charles III bestowed the title of Duke of Edinburgh to his youngest brother, Prince Edward, honoring the wishes of his parents, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip.

Due to this new title, Edward and Sophie will now be addressed as Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh.

James Mountbatten-Windsor the Earl of Wessex
Prince Edward and his son James Mountbatten-Windsor 

However, the status of their children remain unchanged. They will still take the status of children of a British duke without His or Her Royal Highness style, thus Louise remains Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor.

However, James will now take the secondary title of his father, Earl of Wessex but without HRH style. Thus, he must be addressed formally as James Mountbatten-Windsor, the Earl of Wessex.

The Earl of Forfar title will remain with Prince Edward and can only be officially inherited by James upon his father's death. 

But here's the catch. James Mountbatten-Windsor will not inherit his father's title of Duke of Edinburgh. Once Prince Edward dies, Duke of Edinburgh title will revert to the crown.

Here's Why: the Duke of Edinburgh title which was created for Prince Philip in 1947 by King George VI, through a letters patent issued by the king, can only be passed and inherited by his first born son, which in this case is King Charles III.

That's why upon the death of Prince Philip in April 2021, all his noble titles were inherited in papers by then Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales. Those titles reverted to the crown upon the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

It was a personal wish of Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth II that upon the Queen's death the Duke of Edinburgh title will be given to Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex. 

Prince Edward will be known as Duke of Edinburgh during his lifetime but won't be inherited by his only son, James. As such, James will be known as the Earl of Wessex during his lifetime and he can pass this title to his eldest surviving son. 

So how to address Louise and James properly? There was no specific style announced by Buckingham Palace how to address them properly other than Lady Louise and James, the Earl of Wessex.

In practice, a son of a British duke is simply His Lordship, so the public can simply call James as Lord Wessex or Earl of Wessex.

The first born son and heir of Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent (first cousin of the Queen) George Windsor, the Earl of St. Andrews, is sometimes called Lord St. Andrews.

Again, Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor and James Mountbatten-Windsor are not HRH as per their parents wishes. Their main reason is to free their children from the trappings of royalty and allow them to live a normal life. Thus, will take a normal job once they finish college and won't be taking royal duties. 

But we admire the consistent decision of the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh of not granting their children with the HRH styles and the prince and princess titles to protect their privacy. They are successful so far in safeguarding the safety of their children, raising them away from the spotlight.  

Prince Edward is currently 13th in the line of succession to the British throne followed by James at 14th and Louise at 15. But their respective positions will change once Princess Eugenie will give birth to her second child. 

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