Meghan and Harry’s decision to decline a title for baby Archie only adds to the royal family’s looming crises. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Meghan and Harry’s decision to decline a title for baby Archie only adds to the royal family’s looming crises. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Photo spells trouble for royal family

Won't anyone think of the courtiers? Their job must be a tough one. Not only do they work for an exacting boss who doles out withering glances like no other but technically she has her own army. Kind of intimidating.

Plus, the institution these faceless men in grey serve might be starting to crumble.

Let me explain. Recently, photos emerged of the Cambridges, en masse, along with Mike Tindall and his daughter Mia enjoying a day out looking at horses. Giddy up!

The shots were adorable and charming and showed the Windsor cousins having a jolly time all round.

However, they also highlighted the stark reality that the royal family is now facing: That the venerable institution is in danger.

No, not because of clamouring republicans or penny-pinching Westminster types who resent paying for one particular already rich family to have their own train.

Rather, there is a gradual but persistent erosion happening from within its gilded midst. Essentially, fewer and fewer people actually want to be a part of it.

Prince George horsing around with his second cousin Mia Tindall. Picture: Supplied
Prince George horsing around with his second cousin Mia Tindall. Picture: Supplied

The arrival of Master Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor last week, and his parents' decision to forgo a shiny title for him, only highlighted this fact.

Of the Queen's eight grandchildren, only ONE of them has (and can) give their own kids titles - namely, William and George, Charlotte and Louis.

Peter Phillips and Zara Tindall can't give their progeny titles and probably would not have even if they could, given comments they have made saying they were "lucky" to grow up in relative normalcy.

Princess Eugenie's sprogs (if and when she adds to the York line) won't be titled and Princess Beatrice's kids would only get a title if she married a bona fide Prince, Duke, Earl or Lord (and given she is dating property developer Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, it doesn't look likely).

Sure, Prince Edward's son James, Viscount Severn, would be able to pass on his title to a son when he dies but we are looking 70 years, at least, into the future.

Essentially: Like a platter of devilled eggs left languishing at a cocktail party, royal titles are not particularly in high demand.

Meghan and Harry’s decision not to give son Archie a title is telling. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Meghan and Harry’s decision not to give son Archie a title is telling. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Aside from the Cambridge troika of tots, the entire current generation of young Windsors (by which I mean the Queen's great-grandchildren) are growing up sans titles and therefore are not official members of the royal family.

And for courtiers, this dramatic shift must be deeply troubling. The Queen's grandchildren, as they become parents themselves, are showing significant resistance, if not downright opposition, to the strictures and demands of official royal life.

They are refusing, or not entitled, to install their own progeny as card-carrying, bona fide HRHs whose futures would involve a lot of ribbon-cutting and garden parties stuffed with sweating, home counties dignitaries.

And this puts our friends the courtiers in quite the pickle because it dramatically reduces the number of working members of the monarchy they can farm out across the Commonwealth to do good works and unveil plaques.

The three Cambridge children are the only members of the newest generation to have titles. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/WPA Pool/Getty Images
The three Cambridge children are the only members of the newest generation to have titles. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/WPA Pool/Getty Images

There are currently 16 working members of the royal family. Of those, eight are either in their 70s or 80s, plus the tireless, peerless Princess Anne is on the cusp at 68 years old.

Within the next 20 years or so, the number of working royals will dwindle dramatically to about six.

It also raises a much bigger existential question for the Palace: What happens when there is no one left who actually wants to be royal? What happens if Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis decide they don't want their own kids to be a part of a fusty, hoary institution and just want them to be able to live the "normal" lives of privileged Brits? (By which I mean spending their days going to the polo, buying Chelsea real estate and shorting mining stocks.)

So while shots of the Cambridges and Tindalls soaking up the sunshine and bonding are the stuff that tabloid editors dream of, it would not be a surprise if they were making certain men behind palace gates very nervous.

Go on Sir Cedric, it's never too early for a G&T. I reckon you might need it.

Daniela Elser is a royal expert and freelance writer. Continue the conversation @DanielaElser


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