Princess Beatrice, 31, Lady Louise Windsor, 16, and Princess Charlotte, five, are three of Queen Elizabeth II’s grandchildren likely to lose out on hereditary titles because of a “discriminatory” British law. The UK has male primogeniture which is the right, by law or custom, of the firstborn legitimate son to inherit his parent’s entire or main estate in preference to shared inheritance among all or some children, any illegitimate child or any collateral relative.
Male primogeniture prevents daughters from inheriting their fathers’ peerages.
The laws of succession were updated in 2011 ahead of the birth of Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge’s first child to ensure any daughters they had would have an equal right to the throne as any sons.
So this means that unlike Princess Anne who was leapfrogged in the line of succession by her little brothers Prince Andrew and Prince Edward, Princess Charlotte did not lose out to Prince Louis.
However, male primogeniture still applies to hereditary titles.
So this means Princess Beatrice, Lady Louise Windsor and Princess Charlotte are unable to inherit their fathers’ peerages.
The Queen traditionally gifts her sons and grandsons new titles on their wedding days.
Princess Beatrice’s father Prince Andrew became the Duke of York when he married Sarah Ferguson.
Prince Edward was made the Earl of Wessex when he married Sophie in 1999 and will take on his father’s Duke of Edinburgh title when Prince Philip dies.
Prince William is the current Duke of Cambridge and while that title will join with the crown when he becomes king, he is due to inherit Prince Charles’ Duke of Cornwall peerage when Charles succeeds the throne.
While Princess Beatrice is Prince Andrew’s eldest child, because she is a daughter she is unable to inherit her father’s dukedom so this could pass to her little cousin Prince Louis instead.
Lady Louise is Prince Edward’s eldest child but again her gender means that Prince Edward’s future Duke of Edinburgh peerage will likely on his death pass to her younger brother James, Viscount Severn instead.
Princess Charlotte’s gender also makes her unable to inherit any titles from her father or other male family members.
However, there is a glimmer of hope for British women who might otherwise miss out on their fathers’ peerages.
Campaigner Charlotte Carew Pole has launched a campaign called Daughters’ Rights to put an end to male primogeniture in the UK.
Daughter’s Rights currently has a case in the European Court of Human Rights challenging the Government because only sons can inherit titles.
Male primogeniture means women are currently ineligible to stand in the by-elections to the seats reserved for hereditary peers in the Lords.
The group wrote to Philip Davies’s bill last March on the matter, and there’s been significant progress with the Bill since then with the Cabinet Office.
Ms Carew Pole explained to Express.co.uk that Penny Mordaunt is leading the Hereditary Titles (Female Succession) Bill from the Commons and the Earl of Shrewsbury is leading from the Lords in support.
She said: “It’s hard to see how the government can continue to object, it’s keeping enough pressure on them to see that it’s a matter that won’t go away.”
As well as female royals missing out on their father’s dukedoms, Ms Carew Pole highlighted that the current law means:
An eighth of our upper chamber is reserved for men because daughters can’t inherit titlesA third of England and Wales is owned by the peerageA third of England and Wales is owned by men and only ever will be owned by men because they pass their land down in the same way as titles ‘through male heirs body legally begotten’
Ms Carew Pole said: “More than anything if we could bring this to an end it sends a very simple but powerful message that nowhere is it OK to treat girls differently, with less importance, than sons.
“It doesn’t matter where you are in society, whether you’re a princess is beside the point, prejudice against girls in favour of boys shouldn’t be allowed.
“It is hugely symbolic legislation but Parliament must do as it says and end the last state-sanctioned gender discrimination.”