In 1977, Queen Elizabeth II’s daughter Princess Anne gave birth to her first child, Peter Philips, who became the first royal baby to be born a commoner in over 500 years (via the BBC). Although born into the British royal family and a direct relative of Her Majesty the Queen, Peter was not given the title of prince at birth. But, why didn’t Peter Philips inherit this royal title?
According to The Express, both Peter and his younger sister, Zara Tindall, did not receive the titles of prince or princess at birth, despite being in line for the throne. The reason for this is down to a long-standing royal rule which states that only the offspring of male royal heirs may pass on their titles.
Despite not being eligible, the queen did make her daughter Princess Anne an offer which would have enabled both Peter and sister Zara to be born into the peerage, the BBC reports. However, Anne refused the offer, as she reportedly believed it would help her children lead a more normal life.
Princess Anne has defended her decision
Speaking to Vanity Fair in April 2020 about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s decision to step back as senior royals, Princess Anne appeared to defend her own decision to refuse Peter and Zara’s royal titles. “I think most people would argue that there are downsides to having titles.” She continued, “I think that was probably the right thing to do” (via the Independent).
Per the Express, Peter Philips was allegedly offered the title of earl by the queen in celebration of his 2008 wedding to Autumn Phillips. However, like his mother, he reportedly turned the offer down. As The Sun reports, the former Buckingham Palace press secretary, Dickie Arbiter, previously came out in support of Princess Anne’s decision regarding Peter and Zara’s titles. “It was a masterstroke of the Princess Royal when she decided not to give her children titles,” he commented.
Speaking to The Times back in 2015, Zara Philips also spoke out in defense of her mother’s decision. “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,” she told the publication.
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