Royal styles and titles: Files from the UK National Archives
introduction to the files cast of characters styles and titles of the British royal family

LCO 6/3677

Title of Prince
HRH Philip Duke of Edinburgh

See also "Duke of Edinburgh" in Peerage unregistered files.



10, Downing Street
Whitehall

May 9, 1954

My Dear Lord Chancellor,

I send you herewith a letter I have just received from The Queen. I do not think Prince of the Commonwealth is a very impressive title and I am doubtful whether it is worth while making the change for that. There is nothing singular about it as there might easily be several.

I must say I think that we should consider taking the definite and decisive step of adopting the title of Prince Consort. I think he has won a great deal of confidence in the two years that have passed since The Queen's Accession.

Please do not consult anyone at this stage but let me know your views and particularly anything about the constitutional aspect which may occur to you. Am I right in thinking that there is no diversion or partition of power; for I do not think that is in The Queen's mind at all. Perhaps also you would direct me to some constitutional authorities bearing upon Prince Albert. Should you send me any would you kindly send them in sealed envelopes.

Would you please also consider a draft to the Commonwealth Premiers. The matter presses as I shall be going to meet The Queen on board the BRITANNIA on Friday next.

Yours sincerely,

Winston Churchill

The Rt. Hon. Lord Simonds.


TOP SECRET
10th May 1954.

May I deal first with the second part of your letter to me of the 9th May?

I think that the time has come when the title of Prince Consort for the Duke of Edinburgh should be seriously considered.   I believe that public opinion is ripe for it, for he has won golden opinions in the past two years.  It is true that Prince Albert did not have this title conferred on him until 1857, seventeen years after his marriage to Queen Victoria, but there were reasons for this into which I need not enter.

You are right in thinking that the bestowal of the title of Prince Consort would not involve any diversion or partition of power.   This was felicitously stated by Disraeli when in speaking on the Address to The Queen in 1862 after the death of the Prince he said that he was "the prime councillor of a realm the political constitution of which did not even recognise his political existence" see Monypenny's Life of Disraeli", vol. IV,  384.

The title was conferred on Prince Albert by Letters Patent, and this precedent should be followed in the ease of the Duke of Edinburgh.   It is interesting to note that Queen Victoria writing on the 23rd June 1857 to King Leopold said "..... I should have preferred its being done by Act of Parliament and so it may still be at some future period: but it was thought better upon the whole to do it now in this simple way:" see Martin's Life of the Prince Consort, vol. IV, pp. 63-4.   It is undoubtedly more convenient that the some simple way should be followed today.   An Act of Parliament night be more formal and impressive but at once the question would arise whether there should not be Acts of Parliament of each of the Dominions and we would wish to avoid this complication.   I do not think that any comparable difficulty would arise about the form of the Letters Patent.  It would be formally correct it The Queen was therein described by her title as Queen of the United Kingdom and the Great Seal of the Realm was attached. I assume that there will have been previous communications with the Premiere of the several Dominions.

[I append as an irrelevant footnote an extract from Queen Victoria's journal of the 28th December 1841: "He ought to be, and is, above me in everything really and therefore I wish that he would be equal in rank to me." At this time she was secretly canvassing with Baron Stockmar the idea that Prince Albert should be given the title of "King Consort".   There was a leak and the idea met with such disfavour that it was dropped.]

There is, I think, nothing in what I have said which requires support from any writers of constitutional history. It is the simple fact that under our constitution the husband of a Queen Regnant has, as such, neither title nor politica1 power: the former may he conferred on hm by The Queen as the fountain of honour, the latter only by Act of Parliament.   Of the former an example is seen in Prince Albert himself, of the latter in King Philip of Spain who was by the statute I Mary Session 3 Cap. 2 given special powers and privileges which I need not enumerate.

If The Queen does not like it or for any other reason it is not thought fit to confer the title of Prince Consort on the Duke, then the question arises to which you refer in the first part of your letter.  I must reluctantly agree with your own conclusion that the title "Prince of the Commonwealth" is not an impressive one and that it is doubtful whether it is worth while making the change for that - reluctantly, because I hesitate not to concur in a proposal made by The Queen.  But it appears to me that the collocation of "prince" and "Commonwealth" is not a happy one, if only because the Commonwealth has members which do not admit the sovereignty of the crown and know not Princes.  I wish I could think of some other suitable title but I am baffled.

You ask me finally to consider a draft to the Common-wealth Premiers, and this I will do.  But, if you will permit me, I will defer submitting a draft to you until I have your reaction to this letter and can then obtain your permission to consult with the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations whose guidance would be most valuable to me in such a matter - particularly on the question whether there should be not only "communication" not consultation.

The Right Honourable
Sir Winston Churchill, K.G., O.M., C.H., D.L., M.P.

Top Secret

DRAFT

In the event of H.M. deciding to confer the title of Prince Consort (or title other than Prince of the Commonwealth) the act would be a prerogative act done by issue of Letters Patent under the Great Seal of the Realm, which is in fact a United Kingdom Seal.  It would not be counter-signed by anybody.

2.       Messages would rightly go from The Queen's Private Secretary to the Governors-General of all Commonwealth countries, also for courtesy, to the President of India, somewhat in the following terms :-
"I should be glad if you would inform your Prime Minister that I have for some time had in mind the conferment of a suitable title of dignity upon [      ]
On the occasion of my return with H.RH. the Duke of Edinburgh from my tour of Commonwealth countries, I propose to confer by Letters Patent issued under the Great Seal of the Realm the title of [    ]
The Letters Patent to give effect to my wishes will issue on the [      ]
I should wish it to be made clear to your Prime Minister that the conferment of this title has no constitutional implications."

If the title in mind were Prince of the Commonwealth it is the view of Sir Charles Dixon and myself that it could not be conferred without consultation (not the passage of information) with Commonwealth countries and it is further our opinion that unanimous agreement would not be forthcoming.

P.L.
11/5/54

Here is the combined wisdom of Critchley and Dixon.  Nothing will be said to any cwth country, until we know The Queen's wishes.  And if her decision is as we hope, it wd be Her message. Swinton

Serial no. 12/54

 Top secret

 Prime Minister

 Since our meeting on Tuesday, I have given a lot more thought to the matter we discussed, and I am sure that your summing up is right.

 I have no doubt that the title “Prince Consort” would be welcome in the Commonwealth, and that if Her Majesty were pleased to do that, it should be done as a prerogative act by Letters Patent. There would be no need to consult the Commonwealth Governments; the appropriate action would be that the Queen’s Private Secretary would telegraph Her Majesty’s intention to Governors-General requesting them to inform their Prime Ministers. I think, for courtesy, a similar message should go to the President of India.

I am sure the alternative title would raise a lot of difficulties. The Queen is not Queen of the Commonwealth, and the title “Prince of the Commonwealth” would be difficult to explain. The Commonwealth Governments would have to be consulted. I think Nalan would object and I think India, and probably Pakistan, would raise objections. My impression is that, though the Canadian government might accept it, they would not like it. At the same time I feel sure that every Commonwealth country would be glad to see an enhanced title given to the Duke of Edinburgh. I should expect that all would welcome the title “Prince Consort” as traditional and appropriate. That title has the further advantage that, while denoting the highest honour, it is known to have no constitutional significance.

 Swinton

13th May 1954



10,
Downing Street.
Whitehall

(handwritten)

Private and Secret
 

May 13 1954

My dear Lord Chancellor

The Foreign Secretary, whom I informed confidentially of our meeting on the duke of  Edinburgh’s title, does not like “Prince Consort”. He suggests “Prince of the Realm”. What are your views?

Yours sincerely,
WC


Lord Chancellor
House of Lords, S.W. 1

The LC replied to the PM to the effect that he preferred "Realm" to "Commonwealth", tho' that was not saying much. Realm has principally a geographical significance, as "Peer of the Realm", "coin of the Realm", and if the title is Prince of the Realm the next question is, what Realm, and we are no further on than with Commonwealth.  The PM's original suggestion is best & has the  merit of familiarity. 

A further argument against Commonwealth is that to Australians that means first and last Australia.

CL 13/5


Prime Minister
10 Downing Street,
Whitehall

May 13, 1954.

My dear Ld Chancellor,

You are really a marvel at these things.  I agree with every word you say.  So many thanks.

Yours sincerely

WC

The Right Hon. Lord Simonds


Prime Minister’s personal minute serial no. M 115/54
Lord President of the Council
Lord Chancellor
Secretary of State for the Home Department
Lord Privy Seal
Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations
Secretary of State for the Colonies
Secretary of State for Scotland

The Queen informed me that She had made the suggestion to the Duke of Edinburgh and that His Royal Highness refused even to consider accepting any new title at present.  Her Makesty asked that the matter should be allowed to rest indefinitely.  I will arrange for the documents to be preserved.

W.S.C. 

23 June 1954


Home Office,
Whitehall, S.W.1.
4th February, 1955.
SECRET

Dear Lord Chancellor,

The Home Secretary has had to go to Wales to-day and will not he able to attend the Cabinet this afternoon. You will no doubt remember that when the matter which is to be discussed was last raised you were asked to ascertain by informal enquiry from the College of Heralds whether there was authority for the view that the title "Prince" had not normally held in this country any territorial implication.  I attach a copy of a note on this point which was prepared for you by Strutt.

The matter was not considered again by the Cabinet because of The Queen's desire that it should not be proceeded with at that time, but at your request Strutt had some informal discussion with Garter King of Arms. He showed him a copy of the memorandum and subsequently received a letter expressing Garter's agreement with the view that the title of Prince in this country is normally a courtesy title indicating certain degrees of relationship to the Sovereign and having no power to govern, the only exception being the title "Prince of Wales", which, as indicated in Strutt's note, did at one time imply some executive responsibility but has long ceased to do so.

If this point is raised during the discussions in Cabinet this afternoon, perhaps you would be prepared to deal with it in the absence of the Home Secretary.

Yours sincerely,

Frank Newsam

The Rt. Hon. Viscount Kilmuir, G.C.V.O.


S. of S.

The Title of "Prince"

In Great Britain the use of the title of "Prince" by the children of the Sovereign is comparatively modern.  During the Middle Age a the King himself was never referred to as "Majesty", but in a number of other ways, e.g. "Our Sovereign Lord The King", "The King's Highness", and "The King's Grace".  "Majesty" as a description of the Sovereign came into use in the l6th century when in an age of nationalism and of grave danger, first from the Holy Roman Empire, then France, and then Spain, this "Realm" of England was declared, in the Act forbidding Appeals to Rome in 1533  an "Empire".

With the increased splendour of the dignity of the Sovereign came an increase dignity for the sons of the Sovereign, and Henry  VII's reign was the first in which all the King's sons began to be styled "Princes".The exception had been the eldest son of the Sovereign who, since the reign of Edward III, had always been Duke of Cornwall by birth and, with one exception (Henry VI), Prince of Wales by creation.

Edward I had conferred the Principality on his eldest son, afterwards Edward II, who was summoned to and sat in Parliament as Prince of Wales, but Edward the Black Prince was the person to whom the Principality as well as the Dukedom was granted.The Patent for the creation of Edward, the son of Henry VI, as Prince of Wales in 1453-4 contains the words :-
"We have made and created and by these Presents make and create him the said Edward, Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester, and to the same Edward we give and grant and by this Charter have confirmed the name, style, title, state, dignity, and the honour of the said Principality that he may therein in governing rule and in ruling direct and defend ... invested him to have and to hold to him and to his heirs Kings of England for ever."

The Dukedom of Cornwall - the first creation of a Duke in England - annexed certain specified possessions to the Duke of Cornwall (the Black Prince) "habendum 'eidem duci et ipsius et heredum suorum regum Anglie filiis primogenitis et dicti loci ducibus in regno Anglie hereditarie successuris'."

The Black Prince was created Prince of Wales in 1343 and presumably was given executive functions in the Principality,  if the terms in which the infant son of Henry VI was created Prince of Wales followed precedent, as no doubt they did.
[The patent of Edward Prince of Wales of June 3, 1911,  contains the words  "that  he may  preside  there and may direct and defend these parts"  - an interesting  example of the survival into the 20th century of words of several centuries' antiquity wholly inappropriate  in modern conditions.]

In the 16th century Wales was incorporated with England, made subject to English law and was then governed through the Council of Wales. For centuries the prince of Wales has had no executive responsibilities in the Principality and as such has had no Sovreignty.The Principality of Wales was not a Sovereign House as some of the Principalities on the Continent, particularly in Germany, e.g. the Prince of Lichtenstein.

In Scotland the eldest son of the Kings of Scotland was created Duke of Rothesay in 1398, and like the Duke of Cornwall certain lands "dominium de Bute, cum castro de Rothesay [and various other lands]... Princibus primogenitis Regum Scotie, successorum nostrorum, perpetuis temporibus futuris uniantur, incorporentur et annexentur". Apparently the title "Prince of Scotland", the origins of which are by no means clear, was an established title by about 1500. The first Charter creating the Principality of Scotland was granted in 1404 by King Robert III and was made permanent by Act of Parliament somewhere about 1470. Henry, the eldest son of James VI, was Prince of Scotland in 1603 at the Union of the Crowns but was not created Prince of Wales until 1613.  At his death, his younger brother Charles became Prince of Scotland.  The title was last used in 1649 when Charles II became King on his father's execution: I ignore the use of the title by the Old Pretender.

Although the title Prince of Scotland has not been used, it is interesting to record that in the Patent creating King George V's eldest son Prince of Wales be is described as "Prince of the United Kingdom and of Great Britain and Ireland, Duke of Cornwall and Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Baron of Renfrew, Lord of the Isles, and Great Steward of Scotland ...".

No Prince of Wales has had Sovereign Powers in his Principality for centuries and there has been no Prince of Scotland for three centuries.   In Great Britain the style of "Prince of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland" is merely a title, implies no notion of Sovereignty or territorial supremacy and is restricted to Princes of the Royal Family. It is purely a courtesy and the holders of that title remain commoners until they are raised to the Peerage, the only exception being the eldest son of the Sovereign who at birth or, as in the case of Prince Charles, at his mother's accession to the Throne, immediately becomes Duke of Cornwall.

17th June. 1954.



SECRET

Prime Minister

1. You asked me to let you know my views on the proposal that Her Majesty should confer on the Duke of Edinburgh the style and title of "The Prince". It is hardly necessary to observe that over this matter it is proving very much easier to offer destructive criticism than to make constructive proposals, and I have borne this in mind.  I think that the title of "The Prince" has certain advantages over anything which has hitherto been proposed.
  1. It has not got the obvious disadvantage of titles with territorial descriptions - e.g. Prince of England, Prince of London, etc. – of provoking national or regional jealousies.
  2. It would, so far as I am aware, be unique as a formal style and title in this country and therefore something personal to the Duke alone.
  3. The title "Prince" carries no implication of sovereignty or territorial supremacy.
2.               On the other hand this proposal too has its disadvantages.
  1. It might lead to confusion with other Princes and particularly with the Prince of Wales if, In due course, that title is conferred on the Duke of Cornwall:  It would then be natural, and in accordance with popular practice in the past, to refer to the latter as "the Prince".
  2. The words "The Prince", In the same way as the words "The Queen", are nowadays really a colloquialism, a shortened version, for every-day use, of a longer and more formal title.  It is a matter of the use of language on which I should always hesitate to set my opinion against yours, but I am doubtful whether "The Prince" has sufficient content and significance.
  3. It might provoke discussion about the position of the Duke with which I deal below (para. 4).
3.                I turn now to the question whether the Queen has power to do what is proposed.  I think She has. As the Fount of Honour She can confer any style, title or dignity which She is pleased to, and "Prince" has been described in Letters Patent as a "titular dignity". The use of the title "Prince" by the children of the Sovereign is comparatively modern: it did not become general until Henry VII's reign, although since the reign of Edward I the eldest son of the Sovereign has always been created Prince of Wales.  Nowadays the use of the style "Royal Highness" and the prefix "Prince" toy members of the Royal Family is governed toy Letters Patent of George V dated 30th November, 1917; and there is a precedent for adding to the class of persons entitled under those Letters Patent to the style and prefix.  As you will remember, by an omission, the children of Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh born before Her accession to the Throne would not have come within the terms of the Letters Patent of 1917. To put this right Letters Patent were issued on the 22nd October, 1948, conferring upon the children of the marriage the style and title of H.R.H. and the titular dignity of Prince or Princess.

I can therefore see no objection to the Queen conferring this or any other title She likes on the Duke, and no formal objection to Her conferring the title "The Prince" quite shortly without a territorial title or any qualifying words, although there are, I think, the practical and aesthetic objections which I have already mentioned.

4.              A further question that must be considered is whether the Duke is now a Prince or not., and this is a matter on which there is some doubt.  When George VI conferred the style and title of "Royal Highness" on him in 1947, there was some correspondence in the press about it, and while the authorities principally concerned were agreed that the style of H.R.H. does not necessarily connote the rank and dignity of Prince, there was a conflict of opinion on the question whether or not it was correct to describe the Duke as a Prince.  Some said that he was not a Prince because when he became naturalised he renounced his Greek and Danish Royal styles: others said that in spite of naturalisation he remained a Prince.  The confusion was increased by the fact that in various formal documents he has been differently described:
  1. In the Letters Patent of 1947 conferring the style of H.R.H. upon him - "Sir Philip Mountbatten, Knight of Our Most Noble Order of the Garter, Lieutenant in Our Navy".
  2. In the Letters Patent of the 22nd October, 1948, conferring style and title on the children of the marriage of Princess Elizabeth and the Duke - "His Royal Highness. Prince Philip”.
  3. In the Regency Act, 1953, and the Letters Patent of the 20th November, 1953, appointing Counsellors of State during the absence of the Queen and the Duke on their Australian tour — "His Royal Highness Philip, Duke of Edinburgh". This is the description that the Duke himself used when registering the birth of Princess Anne.
These documents therefore are of no assistance in determining whether the Duke is a Prince or not, but there remains the fact of his membership of the Greek and Danish Royal Family.  Any title conferred by such, membership would be a dignity conferred by a foreign Sovereign.  Such dignities are not recognised by law in this country, but the right to bear them may be granted by the Sovereign.  The Duke's "renunciation" of his Greek and Danish titles must, I think, be regarded as an expression of his intention not to seek the Sovereign's permission to use then. If therefore the authorities are right that the style of H.R.H. does not necessarily connote the rank and dignity of Prince it would appear probable that it is not legally correct to describe the Duke as a Prince in this country.

However that may be, the question is certainly arguable and the controversy will be revived if the present proposal is proceeded with.  On the other hand, the conferment of a new title which included the word "Prince" would solve the problem.

5.              To sum up.  My opinion is that there are no constitutional or legal obstacles to the proposal but that it has the disadvantages which I have set out in paragraph 2 of this note.  I do not think that the style of the King's eldest brother at the French Court -"Monsieur" - presents a good analogy.  That style arose by usage: the word was really a nickname which could not be appropriately conferred by any formal process, just as, for instance, it would be inappropriate to confirm by Letters Patent the usage, which seems to have become fairly common with regard to the Duke, of calling him "Prince Philip".

I am sorry to come to this conclusion, particularly as I have quite failed to think of a style or dignity which is not open to some objection.  The best I can suggest is "The Prince of the United Kingdom".

Kilmuir

26th February. 1955.


Home Office,
Whitehall. S.W.1.
28 February, 1955.

My dear George,

We were speaking the other day about the designation of the Duke of Edinburgh.

In 1948 the General Register Office consulted us about the way in which the birth of Prince Charles was to be registered.  They sent over a suggested entry, in column 4 of which (name and surname of father) they had inserted:
"His Royal Highness Prince Philip".

I consulted Lascelles on this and he laid my letter before The King, together with the draft entry, I have in my possession the entry, as amended by The King in his own hand.  The King amended column 4, name and surname of father, to read:
      "His Royal Highness Philip, Duke of Edinburgh".

Should you or the Lord Chancellor wish to see the actual document I will, of course, send it over.  But I keep it locked up in my safe and am not going to have it registered until nearer the time of my retirement as I think it is somewhat delicate to have lying about in a file at the present time.

Your truly,

Austin Strutt

George Coldstream, Esq., C.B,

Thank you very much for troubling to write to me about the designation of the Duke of Edinburgh.   I told the Lord Chancellor you had said to me on the telephone about the circumstances attending the registration of the birth of Prince Charles, but it is very helpful to have this confirmation of your recollection.

I certainly do not think that it would be necessary for the Lord chancellor to trouble you to send over the document, and I am not surprised to hear that you are keeping it locked up in your safe.

GPC


RESTRICTED CIRCULATION
CABINET:    4TH FEBRUARY, 1955           
(CC.(55) 9th Conclusions) Record of Confidential Discussion

DUKE OF EDINBURGH

THE PRIME MINISTER said that he had discussed with some of his Cabinet colleagues, at informal meetings held on 11th May and 16th June, 1954, a suggestion that His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh should assume the title "Prince of the Commonwealth".   It had then been foreseen that this suggestion might give rise to some difficulties, and it had not been pressed at that time.   The Queen had recently suggested however that, while the Commonwealth Prime Ministers were in London, the opportunity might be taken of ascertaining informally whether they would all be prepared to support such a proposal.   He had therefore sounded some of them.   The Prime Ministers of Australia, New Zealand and Pakistan had welcomed the suggestion; and the Prime Minister of India had said that he himself would favour it, though it might give rise to some criticism in his country.   The Deputy Prime Minister of South Africa had said that he could offer no opinion without first consulting his Government.   The Prime Minister of Canada had expressed misgivings: he thought that the assumption of such a title might raise awkward constitutional questions.

The Prime Minister said that The Queen would not wish to proceed with this suggestion unless it had the full support of all Commonwealth Governments.   He thought that, if Canadian Ministers could be persuaded to support it, it might be possible to secure the agreement of South Africa.

THE LORD PRESIDENT said that this was a matter which directly affected the relations of Commonwealth Governments with the Crown.   It would be unwise to proceed with the suggestion unless it commanded the unanimous support of all Commonwealth Governments.

There was general agreement with this view. The Cabinet took note that the Prime Minister would report to them the result of the further conversations which he was proposing to have on this question with the Prime Minister of Canada and the Deputy Prime Minister of South Africa.

Cabinet Office, S.W.1. 11th February, 1955.



RESTRICTED CIRCULATION

CABINET
9TH FEBRUARY, 1955 (C.C,(55) 10th Conclusions)

                      Record of Confidential Discussion

THE PRIME MINISTER said that he had now been informed that the South African Government would not be prepared to support the suggestion that His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh should assume the title "Prince of the Commonwealth". The Canadian Prime Minister had also indicated that his Government would not be able to support this suggestion.  As the suggestion did not command the unanimous support of all Commonwealth Governments, it would not be possible to proceed with it at the present time; and he had informed The Queen accordingly. Her Majesty accepted this position, but it was still her wish that some formal title should be conferred on the Duke of Edinburgh. She did not herself favour the title "Prince Consort" or "Prince Royal".

In a short discussion several alternatives were put forward.  It was, in particular, suggested that the title "His Royal Highness the Prince" might be considered.

The Prime Minister undertook to consider this particular suggestion further and to take a suitable opportunity of mentioning it informally to The queen.

Cabinet Office. S.W.1.
11th. February, 1955.



RESTRICTED CIRCULATION

CABINET:   
2ND MARCH, 1955 (C.C.(55) 19th Conclusions)
Record of Confidential Discussion

THE PRIME MINISTER said that in informal conversation with The Queen he had put forward the suggestion that the Duke of Edinburgh should assume the title "His Royal Highness The Prince".  Her Majesty had been favourably disposed towards this.  The next step would be to submit the suggestion to her more formally in writing.

In discussion the question was raised whether the assumption of this title would give the Duke of Edinburgh precedence over the Prince of Wales.  It was the general view of the Cabinet that this was a point which could be left to be settled by Her Majesty at a later stage.  There was general agreement that "His Royal Highness The Prince" was the most suitable title which could be devised for the Duke of Edinburgh.

THE COMMONWEALTH SECRETARY said that, as the title now suggested had no territorial significance, there would be no occasion to consult other Commonwealth Governments.  It would, however, be desirable that they should be informed before any public announcement was made; and the appropriate channel for this communication would be from Her Majesty's Private Secretary to Governors-General.

THE LORD CHANCELLOR said that he had considered whether this was a matter on which the Sovereign should act on advice from Ministers.  Though the point was open to argument, it was his view that this would be a personal decision of the Sovereign.  Nevertheless, it would be expedient that Her Majesty should consult her Ministers before a final decision was taken. The point would be covered if the Prime Minister, in a formal letter to The Queen, commended the suggestion to Her Majesty.

In further discussion it was suggested that The Queen's Birthday would be a suitable occasion on which to announce the new title.

The Prime Minister invited the Lord Chancellor to submit to him a draft of a Letter to the Queen commending the suggestion that the title “His Royal Highness The Prince” should beformally conferred on the Duke of Edinburgh.  He also asked the Commonwealth Secretary to send him a note on the procedure to be followed in relation to other Commonwealth Governments. The matter would be brought before the Cabinet again, for final decision, when these documents were available.

Cabinet Office, S.W.1.

3d March 1955.

45
Secret
Serial no. 7/55

Prime Minister

I cannot do better than send you the draft which the late Lord Chancellor and I agreed last June and which you approved at that time.  If it is decided to adopt the title "The Prince", the action with the Commonwealth Governments, other than India, would be as set out in paragraph 3.  At the same time I would communicate the decision to the Government of India as proposed at the end of paragraph 5.

(SGD) Swinton

3rd March. 1955.


Secret

1.  The Prime Minister has now had a further opportunity of discussing with some of his colleagues the alternative Titles which Your Majesty wished us to consider further.

2. The Title “Prince of the United Kingdom” appeared to Ministers to be open to the following objections.  It would particularise the United Kingdom too closely as distinct from the other parts of the Commonwealth.  Moreover, the designation of the United Kingdom in Your Majesty’s present Style and Title is “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland” which Your Majesty will agree would not be a felicitous Title.  The suggestion was, however, made that “Prince Royal” would be a high and suitable Title.  Though there might be a possibility of confusion of the Title with that of the Princess Royal, Ministers thought that this possibility was so slight as to be negligible.  They thought that the combination of “Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness the Prince Royal” had a very dignified sound and that the Title “Prince Royal” would be generally accepted and indeed acclaimed.

3. If Your Majesty should be pleased to favour this Title, Ministers considered that there would be no need to consult with any other Commonwealth Government.  it would be sufficient for Your Majesty’s Private Secretary to inform Governors General, in advance of the conferment of the Title by Letters Patent under the Great Seal, that it was Your Majesty’s intention to confer this title on His Royal Highness.

4. If, however, Your Majesty wishes the Title to be “Prince of the Commonwealth”, Ministers are convinced that it would be very desirable to consult the other Commonwealth Governments and not merely to inform them.  In that event, Ministers would recommend that Your Majesty’s Private Secretary should write or telegraph to the Governors General of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan and Ceylon in the terms of the attached draft.

5. Ministers also considered what action it would be proper to take in regard to India.  They do not think it would be either necessary or proper for Your Majesty to consult the Indian Government.  Your Majesty is not the Queen of India and the conferment of a Title on His Royal Highness is a prerogative act of Your Majesty as Queen.  On the other hand, Your Majesty is “Head of the Commonwealth”, and Ministers think that it would be both right and courteous that the Government of India shoud be informed at the same time that the other Commonwealth Governments are informed or consulted.  The Queen’s Private Secretary has no direct contact with the President of India in the same way that he has with the Governors General of other Commonwealth Countries.  It would therefore be appropriate that the intimation of Your Majesty’s intention should be made by the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations.



L. Swinton agreed, subject to a small drafting amendment to the letter to the Queen. 7/3

7th March, 1955.
TOP SECRET
PERSONAL

Dear Smedley.

The Lord Chancellor would like Lord Swinton to see the attached draft of a minute from the Lord Chancellor to the Prime Minister enclosing a draft letter, also attached, from the Prime Minister to the Queen.  He would he glad to know whether Lord Swinton agrees with these drafts. The matter is somewhat pressing, since the Prime Minister intends to mention the matter at his audience with the Queen tomorrow evening and I have told Colville that we will do our best to get the drafts over to No. 10 either this evening or first thing tomorrow morning.  Perhaps when Lord Swinton has had an opportunity of looking at the papers you will he good enough to telephone me - if he has any amendments of substance to make I shall be glad to have them by hand as soon as you are able to send them.

Yours sincerely,

C.W. B. RANKIN

H. Smedley, Esq, M.B.E.



Prime Minister

1. At the meeting of the cabinet on the 2nd March I was invited to submit to you a draft of a letter to the Queen commending the suggestion that the title “His Royal Highness The Prince” should formally be conferred on the Duke of Edinburgh.  I accordingly submit a draft.  The Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations has seen it and agrees with it.

2. I have made no mention in the draft of the doubts which exist about whether the Duke can properly be described as a Prince in this country.  This is a delicate subject, and since I sent you my minute of the 26th February I have received certain information which makes it appear that His late Majesty King George VI, in conferring upon the Duke in 1947 the style “His Royal Highness” did not intend at the same time to confer upon him the rank of Prince.

3. You will note that the draft includes the suggestion that the title should be conferred by Letters Patent.  I have no doubt that this would be the most suitable means: it follows the precedent of 1857 when Queen Victoria conferred upon Prince Albert the title “Prince Consort” by the same means.

I have considered whether it would be preferable to proceed by legislation, for that would present an opportunity to correct a somewhat irritating anomaly that exists in regard to the Duke’s precedence in Parliament.  The Queen has already conferred upon him precedence next to Her Majesty everywhere save in Parliament, for precedence in Parliament is still regulated by the old Act of Henry VIII.  In Parliament the Duke is placed below the Royal Dukes, the Archbishops, the Great Officers of State and the non-royal Dukes, and in my opinion he can only be placed higher by an Act of Parliament.  It would be pleasant to correct this anomaly, and if the title “His Royal Highness The Prince” were to be conferred by legislation it could be done at the same time.  I do not advise this course however.

Legislation here would raise doubts whether legislation in other Commonwealth countries was required, and the Duke’s precedence in Parliament is not of great moment, for the only occasions on which he is likely to attend the House of Lords are when he accompanies the Queen at the Opening of Parliament and takes his place to the left of the Throne.  Moreover, I think it is always advisable to keep these matters concerning the Royal Family out of the Parliamentary arena.

4. I have given further consideration to the question whether this is a matter in which the Queen should receive formal advice, and although it is such a private matter I have come to the conclusion that it is desirable that She should.  I find that Queen Victoria in 1856 not only consulted Her Ministers but also, since Her original intention was that the title “Prince Consort” should be conferred by Act of Parliament, sent a memorandum to the leaders of the opposition enclosing a draft of Bill prepared by the Chancellor (Letters of Queen Victoria Vol. III pp. 244-247 and 249-251).  The Queen is the fountain of honour and conferment of Honours is a prerogative act.  In practice, however, it is only the Garter, the Thistle, the Order of Merit and the Royal Victorian Order which She confers without consulting her Ministers, if only for the reason that any criticism that may arise should fall upon them and not upon her.  For the same reason it is expedient that in this matter also She should have the advantage of receiving formal advice, although it is a matter that touches Her so personally that no objection, in my opinion, could be taken if She declined to act upon the advice.

K.

7th March 1955


Draft

The Prime Minister with his humble duty begs to inform Your Majesty that he has discussed with his colleagues the suggestion which he made informally to Your Majesty that Your Majesty might be pleased to confer upon the Duke of Edinburgh the title “His Royal Highness The Prince."

2. Ministers desire to commend this title to Your Majesty, if Your Majesty should be disposed to favourt it, and believe that its conferment upon the Duke would be widely acclaimed and would give great satisfaction to Your Majesty’s subjects.  Ministers considered that the title having no territorial description attached to it, would not provoke any national or regional jealousies, and being unique as a style and title in this country, would have the advantage that it was a distinction personal to the Duke alone.

3. If Your Majesty should be pleased to confer the title upon the Duke, Ministers considered that the most appropriate means would be by Letters Patent under the Great Seal, and that the most suitable moment for an announcement, if Your Majesty thought fit, would be on the occasion of Your Majesty’s birthday.

4.  Ministers further considered that there would be no need to consult any other Commonwealth Government.  It would be sufficient for Your Majesty’s Private Secretary to inform Governors General, in advance of the conferment of the title, that it was Your Majesty’s intention to confer it.

5. Ministers also considered what action it would be proper to take in regard to India (and to Pakistan if by the time of the announcement it has become a Republic).  They think that it would be right that the Indian Government should be similarly informed at the same time.  The Queen’s Private Secretary has no direct contact with the President of India in the same way that he has with the Governors General of other Commonwealth countries.  It would therefore be appropriate that the intimation of Your Majesty’s intention should be made by the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations.

The above is humbly submitted by Your Majesty’s dutiful servant and subject

Prime Minister’s Personal Minute
serial no. M 46/55

9/3

Lord Chancellor

Thank you for your excellent paper.  I do not think it is necessary to suggest a date to the Queen, and the event would have more distinction if it were not mixed up with the ordinary Honours List, including the Party Honours. As it is my submission, I have sent it informally to the Queen as amended.

WSC

Secret

PRIME MINISTER

I have as you requested looked into the question of the form in which The Queen might announce her wish that the Duke of Edinburgh should be known as Prince Philip, and in the following paragraph I suggest the form in which a note might be sent to Sir Michael Adeane.

"I have considered most carefully the form in which effect might be given to The Queen's wishes regarding the Duke of Edinburgh's title.

When Prince Albert was given the style and title of Prince Consort in 1857 they were granted by Letters Patent. I feel that the constitutionalists would question any announcement of the Queen's Pleasure if there were no formal document conferring on the Duke the style and title of Prince of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Her other Realms and Territories. They would contend that if Letters Patent were necessary in 1857 they are equally necessary today.

Once the Letters Patent had been issued I think that an announcement should be made in the London Gazette to the effect that Her Majesty has been graciously pleased to declare Her will and pleasure that His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh shall henceforth be known as His Royal Highness Prince Philip."

R. A. BUTLER

8th February, 1957.

Well, is it correct to say Prince Philip?

by P. Wykeham-Bourne

The Evening Standard, Feb. 8, 1957, p. 10.

ONCE again the argument has blown up whether the Duke of Edinburgh is or is not a Prince. The official programme of his three-day visit to the Gambia, in which he is referred to throughout as Prince Philip, has upset some people.

For over nine years, since his marriage to the Queen, no one has really known the answer to this question. No official pronouncement has ever been made, and officials always hedge when asked for a ruling. This leads one to conclude that no unanimity has yet been reached by them.

Debrett says he is a Prince: Burke that he is not. One London Gazette announcement referred to the marriage solemnised between Princess Elizabeth and " His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh." Yet when Princess Anne was born, her birth certificate omitted the style of Prince from her father's titles. It is undisputed that Philip was born a Prince of Greece and Denmark, but he had to relinquish these foreign titles on becoming a British subject. He then assumed the surname of his mother's family and became Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, RN, a British commoner. When King George VI created him a Knight of the Garter and a Royal Highness on the eve of his wedding, his peerage titles were gazetted in a most extraordinary way, as His Royal Highness Sir Philip Mountbatten.

Some officials may have advised King George that he could not create his son-in-law a Prince on the argument that a British Prince normally is so born and not created. Precedents are always followed on matters of this sort What are the precedents in this case?

There has certainly never been in Britain a Royal Highness who was not a Prince, nor a Prince who was not a Royal Highness or Highness. There was no need for Queen Victoria to create her husband a Prince, since Prince Albert was never required to give up his title of birth.

There is a precedent for the creation of Princesses. Edward VII ordered the College of Arms to set the machinery in action to create his two granddaughters — children of his daughter the Princess Royal— Highnesses and Princesses. The elder of these is Princess Arthur of Connaught; the younger, the late Princess Maud, voluntarily relinquished the style on marrying the Earl of Southesk. If it could be done for them, why not for Philip?

Those who argue that Philip is a Prince, base their view on the common-sense one that this title cannot be divorced from that of a Royal Highness. They say that HRH is to a Prince what His Grace is to a Duke, merely a descriptive style for a substantive title. If not, these words are meaningless and ambiguous. If he is royal, but not a Prince, what is he?

If the argument is upheld that a British Prince cannot be created and Philip has only the empty adjectival style of HRH, then the Duke of Windsor is in the same position, for the princely title with which he was born passed from him on succession to the throne.

The London Gazette of May 28, 1937, which confirmed his style of HRH, did not name him Prince, but who can doubt that this was his brother's intention and that the two titles are inseparable?

No one has dared to clarify the situation, but surely the Duke's, and presumably the Queen's, view was made clear in 1954, when a Royal Society of Arts medal, which he chose, was struck with the inscription "Prince Philip, President."

Thus the Duke, who signs as Philip, the prerogative of a Prince, has vindicated the name, by which the man in the street has always called him.

The time is long overdue for an official pronouncement confirming that the Queen's consorts is undoubtedly a Prince. If not, why not ?

Top Secret

Lord Chancellor:

Your people are not sure whether you saw the attached draft over the weekend.  The Home Secy. has only one minor drafting suggestion on it, which I have marked on p. 3.
The Prime Minister may wish to have a word after Cabinet about this, if you have any points on it.

J.B. 10/2


Draft letter from the Prime Minister to Sir Michael Adeane

TOP SECRET

I have thought over the question of finding a more generally acceptable title for the Duke of Edinburgh which would appeal to the whole people and recognise the unique position which he has earned for himself by his immense contributions to the life of the Commonwealth.  I have also discussed this with two or three of my most senior colleagues.  It would have been very attractive if some such title as "The Prince of the Commonwealth" had been a practical proposition but I have read carefully through the minutes that were prepared nearly two years ago and I am convinced that in the present rather uncertain phase of Commonwealth development it would be an error for such a proposal to be put to the Prime Ministers of all the separate independent countries for their approval.

We have therefore been thinking of some way in which we could achieve this purpose without the necessity for doing more than informing the Prime Ministers, with reasonable certainty that they would raise no objection.

There are two possible titles which might be used.  One would be "The Prince".  We feel that this falls between the two stools of being neither sufficiently formal nor sufficiently popular.  It sounds either rather stiff, or to be a colloquialism or shortened version of a longer title.

It would seem to me however that it would be quite suitable if The Queen were to confer upon the Duke in a formal way the Style and Dignity of a Prince of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Her other Realms and Territories.  That having been done, presumably by Letters Patent, an announcement could be made in the London Gazette that Her Majesty had been graciously pleased to declare Her will and pleasure that His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh should henceforth be known as "His Royal Highness Prince Philip”, or "His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh".

If Her Majesty thought this title appropriate I feel confident that the public would feel that it [had just that combination of more honourable position with the] [was both distinctive and had a] popular appeal which I think The Queen would like.

10, Downing Street,

February 11, 1957.

Dear Adeane,

I have thought over the question of finding a more generally acceptable title for the Duke of Edinburgh which would appeal to the whole people and recognise the unique position which he has earned for himself by his immense contributions to the life of the Commonwealth.  I have also discussed this with two or three of my most senior colleagues.

It would have been very attractive if some such title as "The Prince of the Commonwealth" had been a practical proposition, but I have read carefully through the minutes that were prepared nearly two years ago and I am convinced that in the present rather uncertain phase of Commonwealth development it would be an error for such a proposal to be put to the Prime Ministers of all the separate independent countries for their approval.

We have therefore been thinking of some way in which we could achieve this purpose without the necessity for doing more than informing the Prime Ministers, with reasonable certainty that they would raise no objection.

There are two possible titles which might be used.  One would be "The Prince".  We feel that this falls between the two stools of being neither sufficiently formal nor sufficiently popular.  It shoulds either rather stiff, or to be a colloquialism or shortened version of a longer title.

It would seem to me however that it would be quite suitable if The Queen were to confer upon the Duke in a formal way the Style and Dignity of a Prince of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Her other Realms and Territories.  That having been done, presumably by Letters Patent, an announcement could be made in the London Gazette that Her Majesty had been graciously pleased to declare Her will and pleasure that His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh should henceforth be known as "His Royal Highness Prince Philip", or "His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh", as She may prefer.

I should be grateful if you would seek The Queen's views on this suggestion, which, if Her Majesty wishes, I would discuss with Her tomorrow evening.

Yours very sincerely,

HAROLD MACMILLAN.  

Lieutenant-Colonel
the Rt. Hon. Sir Michael Adeane, K.C.B., K.C.V.O.

10, Downing Street, Whitehall.
February 13, 1957.

In confirmation of my telephone call this afternoon, I now send you a copy of a letter which the Prime Minister sent to the Queen's Private Secretary on February 11. As I explained we thought that the form of words of the Style and Dignity proposed in the penultimate paragraph of this letter made it unnecessary to do more than inform other Commonwealth Prime Ministers.  On reconsideration this seems, to say the least, doubtful, and I would be grateful if you could give me urgently, the views of your experts.  It is not merely a question of legal obligation, but rather of desirability.  That is to say, if The Queen were to confer upon the Duke of Edinburgh the Style and Dignity of a Prince of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northhern Ireland and Her other Realms and Territories, would it be desirable that other Commonwealth Prime Ministers should be consulted, and not merely informed, in advance?

In view of at least one of the replies from other Commonwealth Prime Ministers in connection with a similar proposal made by Mr. Menzies last summer, it seems to me to be clear that we should not embark on such a process of consultation. 

Accordingly, if your advice is that this form of words makes consultation desirable, I should advise the Prime Minister to propose to the Queen that the form of words should be amended by omitting the words underlined above.  If that were done, I take it that quite clearly it would be sufficient to inform, and not consult, other Commonwealth Prime Ministers.  I should be grateful if you would let me have your views on this point also.

Finally, I must apologize for not having brought the Commonwealth Relations Office into this matter at an earlier stage.  I am afraid that I assumed, in the way that this matter was considered, that for technical reasons the longer form of words proposed made consultation unnecessary.

I hope to be able to advise the Prime Minister so that he can make a formal submission to The Queen as soon as possible tomorrow, in which it may be necessary for him to explain that he would now propose a different form of words from those suggested in his letter to Adeane.

I am sending copies of this letter to Coldstream and Strutt, and also to Pittam, Rankin, and Hunt.

(Sgd.)    F.A, BISHOP

D.I. Cole, Esq., M.C.
Commonwealth Relations Office

TOP SECRET

12th February 1957.

I am enclosing a first draft of a Warrant leading to the issue of Letters Patent conferring the style and dignity of a Prince of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of The Queen's other realms and territories on His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh.

The draft is, in the main, modelled on the letters Patent issued on the 2nd July, 1857, granting the title and dignity of Prince Oonsort to H.R.H, Prince Albert. But, bearing in mind the terms of the Prime Minister's minute to Adeane, I have included a recital recognising the regard, etc. in which the Duke is generally held. It would be possible, no doubt, to add a phrase recognising the "services" or "contribution" which he has rendered or made to the life of the Commonwealth, but I am not sure, as a matter of taste, that it is wholly appropriate and it would find no analogue in the Prince Consort's Letters Patent.

The subject matter of these Letters Patent is a personal honour, not descendible like a hereditary peerage. So far as I am aware, it will be the first time that anyone has been created a Prince of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland and of The Queen's other realms and territories. I have tried to avoid giving the impression that a new Commonwealth style and dignity is being granted in contrast to a style and dignity in the realms and territories of which Her Majesty is Queen. I should be grateful if you would give special attention to this point when you are considering the draft, bearing in mind again the terms of the Brims Minister's minute to Adeane.

The draft says nothing about the title by which The Queen wishes the Duke to be known in future. On reflection I still think that this is the right course and that The Queen's Pleasure should be made known in a Gazette notice, whilst the Letters Patent should he confined to the grant of the actual style and dignity to be conferred.

GEORGE COLDSTREAM.

F. A. Bishop, Esq.

top SECRET

12th February 1957.

Bishop rang me up this afternoon to confirm a note which you sent me. I have prepared a first draft of the Warrant and you will forgive me, I know, if I ask you to look at the attached copy of the letter I have sent to Bishop drawing attention to the special matters on which I should be grateful for your help. But of course I want your comments on the document as a whole.  Will you let me know as soon as you are ready when I should be glad to discuss the draft with you?

GEORGE  COLDSTREAM.


Sir Austin Strutt, K.C.V.O., C.B.

February 13, 1957
Prime Minister
10, Downing Street
Whitehall

SECRET

My dear Coldstream,

The Prime Minister yesterday evening discussed with The Queen the proposal for a new Style and I Dignity for the Duke of Edinburgh. The Queen welcomed his proposals, and the Prime Minister will therefore make a formal submission today. I enclose a copy of the draft formal submission, on which I should welcome your comments in case the wording is open to any technical objection. I have also sent a copy to Pittam in the Home Office.

The draft Warrant which you sent me with your letter of yesterday seems entirely suitable from the Prime Minister's point of view.

Yours sincerely,

Bishop

Sir George Coldstream, K.C.B.


DRAFT LETTER FROM THE PRIME MINISTER TO THE QUEEN

Mr..Macmillan with his humble duty to The Queen,

My senior colleagues and I feel that the great services which the Duke of Edinburgh has gendered to this country over many years, and his unique contribution to the life of the Commonwealth, culminating in the tour which is now reaching its conclusion, should receive some significant mark of public recognition,

I therefore humbly propose that Your Majesty should be pleased to confer upon the Duke the Style and Dignity of a Prince of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Your other Realms and Territories.  This would be done, if Your Majesty pleases, by Royal arrant leading to the issue of Letters Patent.

I further suggest, if such a proposal is approved, that an announcement should be made in the London Gazette that Your Majesty had been graciously pleased to declare Your Will and Pleasure that the Duke should henceforth be known as "His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh". It would be fitting that this announcement should be Bade soon after the return of Your Majesty and the Duke from Portugal.

I feel sure that such a distinction would be a proper public recognition of the position which the Duke of Edinburgh undoubtedly holds in the life of the nation, and that it would be widely welcomed.

Mr. Macmillan with his humble duty remains Your Majesty's most faithful and devoted servant.


14th February 1957

I believe that Bishop may have told you that he has brought me into consultation over the form of the formal Submission which the Prime Minister is making to The Queen in connection with The Duke of Edinburgh's new title.  I had a discussion with Bishop after lunch today and in the course of it he suggested that I should send you a draft of the Warrant which I have prepared for the conferment of the new title.

I am enclosing a copy of the draft Warrant on which 1 should be very grateful for your opinion, and on which I should like to make a few observations.

In preparing the draft, I have followed, to some extent, the terms of the Letters Patent which were issued on the 2nd July, 1857, when Queen Victoria granted the title and dignity of Prince Consort to Prince Albert.  As in that case, the present draft is intended to lead to the grant of a personal titular dignity, which may be contrasted with the grant of an inheritable dignity like a peerage which descends to the successors (if any) of the grantee.  There is no doubt that The Queen, as the Fount of Honour, may confer on any of her subjects any style or titular dignity She pleases.  Thus the title need have no territorial or other qualification, although in this case it is proposed to couple the titular dignity of "Prince" with a territorial definition and one which has already been recognised in letters Patent.  For instance, in the Patent creating King George V's eldest son Prince of Wales, he was described as "Prince of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland" as well as Duke of Cornwall and Rothesay, etc, etc.

The grant of the the titular dignity will not affect The Duke's precedence which is already governed by the Royal Sign Manual Warrant of the 5th January, 1953, in all places except in Parliament, where his precedence as a Duke is governed by the House of Lords Precedence Act, 1539 (31 Hen. 8. c.10).

I must draw your attention to the fact that the draft warrant does not describe His Royal Highness as "Prince Philip" although the Letters Patent of 22nd October, 1948, conferring the style and title of Prince and Princess on the children of the marriage of The Queen and The Duke, so described him, and there is doubt, at any rate in the public mind, whether he is correctly described as a Prince in this country.  You may know that the Lord Chancellor considered this point at the invitation of the Prime Minister on the last occasion when the question of a new title for The Duke came up. Lord Kilmuir then thought that "it would appear probable that it is not legally correct to describe The Duke as a Prince in this country".  I have adopted this view in the draft
not merely as a matter of law, but because it seemed to me inappropriate to do so in a document the object of which is to confer the titular dignity of a Prince of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and which will set the doubt at rest.

I should be very grateful for your opinion on the wording which I have suggested for this important document, particularly on the wording of the recital.

I understand that, if the Queen approves the Submission which the Prime Minister is to make to Her, it would be desired to have the Warrant ready for Her Majesty's signature on Her return from Portugal.  If, therefore, the draft could be approved before the Queen left this country, or if it could be settled by (say) Tuesday of next week, the Letters Patent could be prepared and would be ready for sealing on Friday, 22nd February, on which day the proposed announcement about the name by which She wishes The Duke to be known in future could be issued too.

GEORGE COLDSTREAM.

Prime Minister
10, Downing Street
Whitehall

SECRET

February 14, 1957

My Dear Coldstream,

You will have seen a copy of my letter of yesterday to Cole about the difficulties arising from the wording of the Style and Dignity which the Prime Minister proposed to recommend to The Queen to confer on the Duke of Edinburgh.

I have now discussed this question with the Commonwealth Secretary. In Lord Home's view, the inclusion of the words "and Her other Realms and Territories" would have made it essential for other Commonwealth Prime Ministers to be consulted, and not merely informed, in advance. He appreciated that in the light of the replies which were received from Commonwealth Prime Ministers to Mr. Menzies' proposal last summer, it might not be a straightforward matter to secure the concurrence of all other Commonwealth Prime Ministers concerned in a Style and Dignity which included those words. It was, of course, on these grounds that the Prime Minister, and the Home Secretary and the Lord Chancellor, had reached the view that it was desirable to find some wording which would not make it necessary to do more than inform the other Commonwealth Prime Ministers.

Lord Home took the view that if these words were left out, and if the Style and Dignity were simply "A Prince of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland" it would not be necessary for other Commonwealth Prime Ministers to be consulted.  (He pointed out that it would be desirable to explain the proposal particularly fully to Mr. Menzies, in view or his earlier proposal.) You told me this morning that this was also your view, and I assume that it is shared by Strutt.

I therefore now propose to put before the Prime Minister a formal submission for him to send to The Queen, in the terms of the enclosed draft, and would be grateful for any comments you have on it as soon as possible.

You will also wish to reconsider the wording of the draft Warrant which you sent me with your letter of February 12.  I think that it would be convenient if, as soon as we have had The Queen's reply to the formal submission, the Warrant were shown to the Palace for informal approval.  It would be desirable for this to be done sometime on Friday.

I am sending copies of this letter and the enclosure to Strutt and Pittam, and to Rankin, Cole and Hunt.

Yours sincerely,

Bishop

Sir George Coldstream, K.C.B.

DRAFT LETTER FROM THE PRIME MINISTER TO THE QUEEN

Mr. Macmillan with his humble duty to The Queen.

My senior colleagues and I feel that the great services which the Duke of Edinburgh has rendered to this country over many years, and his unique contribution to the life of the Commonwealth, culminating in the tour which is now reaching its conclusion, should receive some significant mark of public recognition.

I therefore humbly propose that Your Majesty should be pleased to confer upon the Duke the Style and Dignity of a Prince of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
I have considered whether the territorial description of the Style and Dignity should extend to Your Majesty's other Realms and Territories. On reflection I think it would be best if it were not
to do so, as such a form would be an innovation. As such, it would be necessary to consult other Commonwealth Governments about it. The present proposal is made by Your Majesty's Ministers in the United Kingdom, and it is right that the Style and Dignity should be consonant with the territories for which they are responsible.

The Style and Dignity I propose, if Your Majesty Pleases, could be conferred by Royal Warrant leading to the issue of Letters Patent.

I further suggest, if such a proposal is approved, that an announcement should be made in the London Gazette that Your Majesty had been graciously pleased to declare Your Will and Pleasure that the Duke should henceforth be known as "His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh". It would be fitting that this announcement should be made soon after the return of Your Majesty and the Duke from Portugal.

I feel sure that such a distinction would be a proper public recognition of the position which the Duke of Edinburgh undoubtedly holds in the life of the nation, and that it would be widely welcomed.

Mr. Macmillan with his humble duty remains Your Majesty's most faithful and devoted servant, 


14th February 1957.

I am enclosing -
(1)  a copy of the grant to the Prince Consort of the 2nd July, 1857.
(2)  a redraft of the current Warrant which I have amended to take account of the altered form of Style and Dignity.

Apart from cutting out the references to "Our other Realms and territories", I have deleted references to all Our loving subjects, and to making known "Our purposes" "to Our peoples everywhere".



F.A. Bishop, Esq.

TOP SECRET

14th February 1957.

You will have heard from Bishop that it has been decided to drop "of Our other Realms and Territories" in the new title. I amended the draft which you were good enough to consider yesterday to give effect to the revised instructions in that respect and I have also made some corrections, and I hope improvements, in the wording,

I had a short talk with Bishop after lunch today and he suggested that it would be a good thing if I sent Adeane a copy of the draft and drew attention to any special points which I thought he ought to have in mind.

Here is a copy of the latest draft Warrant and of my letter to Adeane. Would you kindly let me have your comments?

Mr Strutt telephoned today to say that he had no comments either on the letter or on the draft warrant. GPC 15.ii.57

Sir Austin Strutt, KC.V.O., C.B.

Draft II 14 February 1957
as setteld with Bishop and No. 10. GPC

ELIZABETH THE SECOND By the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Our other Realms and Territories Queen Head of the Commonwealth Defender of the Faith To all to whom these Presents shall cone Greeting   WHEREAS is testimony of the great love which We bear towards Our dearly beloved Husband and Counsellor His Royal Highness Philip Duke of Edinburgh Knight of Our Most Noble Order of the Garter Knight of Our Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle Grand Master and First or Principal Knight Grand Gross of Our Most Excellent Order of the British Empire Admiral of Our Fleet and being sensible of the high regard and affection in which he is held by Our loving subjects We are desirous of conferring upon him a style and dignity appropriate to his rank and station NOW KNOW YE that We of Our especial grace certain knowledge and mere motion do by these Presents give and grant unto His Royal Highness Philip Duke of Edinburgh the Style and Titular Dignity of a Prince of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to have and at all times to hold and enjoy the said Style and Titular Dignity in addition to any other titles of honour which to him belong or at any time hereafter may belong Our Will and Pleasure further is that Our Earl Marsha! of England or his Deputy for the time being do cause these Our letters or the enrolment thereof to be recorded in Our College of Arms to the end that Our Officers of Arms and all others may take due notice thereof IN WITNESS WHEREOF We have caused these Our Letters to be made Patent Witness Ourselves at Westminster the             day of February in the sixth year of Our Reign.

BUCKINGHAM PALACE

15th February, 1957.

TOP SECRET

My dear Coldstream,

Thank you for your letter of 14th February and for the enclosed draft Warrant which deals with The Duke of Edinburgh's new title.

I am most grateful to you for sending this before The Queen's departure for Portugal and I have, this morning, laid it before Her Majesty who has given it her approval.

That is to say, she has no comments to make on the drafting or form of words,which she thinks excellent.  I should, however, point out that she has not yet signed the Prime Minister's formal submission; Her Majesty hopes to do this tomorrow, Saturday evening after which I shall telegraph to Bishop.

Yours sincerely,

M Adeane


Sir George Coldstream, K.C.B.

Prime Minister
10, Downing Street
Whitehall

February 15, 1957

TOP SECRET AND PERSONAL

my dear Coldstream,

For your personal information, I should let you and the others primarily concerned know the position about the submission for a new Style and Dignity for the Duke of Edinburgh.

The Prime Minister made a formal submission in the terms of the draft enclosed with my letter of February 14, amended as you proposed. The Queen has seen this, and, subject to one point, is content with it. That point is that the form by which The Queen would wish the Duke of Edinburgh henceforth to be known should be "His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh".

However, before signifying Her formal approval, and proceeding with the matter, The Queen naturally wishes to speak to the Duke of Edinburgh, and this She will probably do soon after Her arrival tomorrow in Portugal.

Until I hear from Adeane, the Prime Minister will not, of course, send any message on this matter to the other Commonwealth Prime Ministers. I

I am sending copies of this letter to Strutt, Pittam, Rankin, Cole and Hunt.

Sir George Coldstream, K.C.B.


Draft Warrant

This draft warrant has been read and approved by the Queen. GPC 15 ii 57

ELIZABETH THE SECOND By the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Our other Realms and Territories Queen Head of the Commonwealth Defender of the Faith To all to whom these Presents shall come Greeting  WHEREAS in testimony of the great love which We bear towards Our most dearly beloved Husband and most faithful Counsellor His Royal Highness Philip Duke of Edinburgh Knight of Our Most Noble Order of the Garter Knight of Our Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle Grand Master and First or Principal Knight Grand Gross of Our Most Excellent Order of the British Empire Admiral of Our Fleet And being sensible of the high regard and affection in which he is held by Our loving subjects We are desirous of conferring upon him a style and dignity appropriate to his rank and station  NOW KNOW YE that We of Our especial grace certain knowledge and acre notion do by these Presents give and grant unto His Hoyal Highness Philip Duke of Edinburgh the Style and Titular Dignity of a Prince of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to have and at all times to hold and enjoy the said Style and Titular Dignity in addition to any other titles of honour which to him belong or at any tins hereafter may belong Our Will and Pleasure further is that Our Earl Marshal of England or his Deputy for the time being do cause these Our Letters or the enrolment thereof to be recorded in Our College of Arms to the end that Our Officers of Arms and all others may take due notice thereof IN WITNESS whereof We have caused these Our Letters to be made Patent Witness Ourself at Westminster the twenty-second day of February in the sixth year of Our Reign.

TOP SECRET

18th February 1957.

Many thanks for sending me a copy of your proposed Gazette notice about the new title. I have no comment to offer, save that I am not sure whether the word "the" should be as you propose; or thus "The". Would you let me know, in due time, which it is going to be (although it does not affect any of the documents with which I am concerned).

While I am writing, would you mind letting me know whether I am to get my formal instructions to prepare the Warrant from the HomeSecretary or from the Prime Minister? I shall tend over the Warrant either to you or to No.10 on Thursday, so that it will be ready for signature on Friday morning.



Sir Austin Strutt, K.C.V.O., C.B.

PRIME MINISTER
10 Downing Street, Whitehall.
February 18, 1957.

TOP SECRET

Dear Strutt,
Adeane sent me a telegram from Portugal on February 17 saying that The Queen had approved the submission, and I accordingly enclose a formal "giving effect" letter.

I presume that informal approval of the revised draft Warrant, which Coldstream sent with his letter of February l4, was obtained, and that it will now be possible to go ahead with the preparation of the Warrant.  I understand that The Queen would propose to sign this immediately on her return to this country on February 21, so that the Letters Patent and the announcement in the London Gazette can be made on February 22.

Yours sincerely,

(Sgd.) FREDDY BISHOP

Sir Austin Strutt, K.C.V.O., C.B.,
Home Office.

Secretary of State
Home Department

WHITEHALL.
18th February, 1957.

Sir,

I am to signify to you The Queen's Commands that you prepare a Warrant for Her Majesty's Signature, addressed to the Lord High Chancellor, to cause Letters Patent to be passed under the Great Seal of the Realm granting the Style and Titular Dignity of a Prince of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland unto His Royal Highness Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, K.G., K.T., G.B.E, by the name style and title of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, K.G., K.T., G.B.E., and that such Warrant shall set forth the tenor and effect of such Letters Patent, and shall contain all such clauses as are usual and requisite.

I am, Sir,
Your obedient Servant,

For the Secretary of State.

F. A. Newsam

The Clerk of the Crown in Chancery,
&c.,   &c.,  &c.


To all to whom these Presents shall come Greeting   WHEREAS in testimony of the great love which We bear towards Our most dearly beloved Husband and most faithful Counsellor His Royal Highness Philip Duke of Edinburgh Knight of our Most Noble Order of the Garter Knight of Our Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle Grand Master and First or Principal Knight Grand Cross of Our Host Excellent Order of the British Empire Admiral of Our Fleet And being sensible of the high regard and affection in which he is held by Our loving subjects We are desirous of conferring upon him a style and dignity appropriate to his rank and station   NOW KNOW YE   that we of Our especial grace certain knowledge and mere notion do by these Presents give and grant unto His Royal Highness Philip Duke of Edinburgh the Style and Titular Dignity of a Prince of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and northern Ireland to have and at all times to hold and enjoy the said style and titular Dignity in addition to any other titles of honour salon to him belong or at any time hereafter may belong Our Will and Pleasure further is that Our Earl Marshal of England or his Deputy for the time being do cause these Our Letters or the enrolment thereof to be recorded in Our College of Arms to the end that Our Officers of Arms and all all others may take due notice thereof  In Witness whereof We have caused these Our Letters to be made Patent Witness Ourself at Westminster the twenty-second day of February in the sixth year of Our Reign.

BY WARRANT UNDER THE QUEEN'S SIGN MANUAL

COLDSTREAM

I, Sir George Phillipe Coldstream, K.C.B., Clerk of the Crown in Chancery, do hereby certify that the above is a true copy of Her Majesty's Letters Patent under the Great Baal bearing data the twenty-second day of February,   1957.

Clerk of the Crown in Chancery.

10, Downing street
Whitehall
February 21, 1957

Top Secret

Thank you for sending on to me Michael's letter of February 17 with which he returned the Prime Minister submission of February 14, which has had The Queen's approval.

As I said on the telephone yesterday, the Prime Minister agrees that, when the announcements of the new Style and Dignity of the Duke of Edinburgh are published in the Gazette on Friday, some guidance should be issued at the same time to make it clear that this is the result of a proposal made by the Prime Minister.  The Prime Minister's feeling was that this guidance would best emanate from No.10, since it would describe the attitude and view of the Government. Your preliminary feeling was that, from your point of view, it would be helpful if it were to come from No.10, rather than from the Palace.

As I promised, I have tried my hand at a form of words for this guidance, and I enclose a copy of my draft.   I think that it would be preferable for the guidance, in whatever form of words we finally agree, not to be given to the Press as an official communique. This is to say, it would not appear as the following "A statement was issued from No. l0 ..."; but if we give the Press a precise form of words, I understand that all the reputable papers will in fact quote that form of words.

The next question to decide is when the guidance should be issued to the Press.  I understand that the Gazette is available to the Press at about 5.45 p.m. on Friday.  There would, of course, be advantage in giving the guidance to the Lobby Correspondents (on the assumption that the action is to be taken here) somewhat earlier than that.  It occurs to me that Richard Colville may have it in mind to give the Gazette announcements to the Court correspondents some time before the appearance of the Gazette, with an embargo on it until the Gazette is available.  If this is so. the best course would be for the Public Relations Adviser at No. 10 to see the lobby Correspondents, to give them the guidance, at about the same time as the announcements are disclosed to the Court correspondents.  I myself see no harm in releasing the guidance to the Lobby early in the afternoon, of course on the understanding that no use is made of it until the Gazette has appeared.
To sum up, there are three Questions. first, the wording of the guidance.  Second, whether it should be issued from No. 10, And third, at what time should it be released.  I should be grateful if you or Michael would let me have your views about these points.  I am sending copies of this letter to Coldstream and Strutt since we must be sure that the form of the guidance is technically inoffensive.

(signed) F.A. Bishop.

Major Edward Ford, C.B., M.V.O.


Draft Guidance to Press

The Prime Minister and his senior colleagues felt that the great services which the Duke of Edinburgh has rendered to the country and his unique contribution to the life of the Commonwealth, culminating in the tour which he has just concluded, ought to receive some significant mark of recognition.

They therefore proposed to The Queen that the Duke of Edinburgh should formally be given the title and dignity of a Prince, and The Queen was graciously pleased to approve this proposal.  In giving effect to it The Queen has let it be known that she would like the Duke of Edinburgh henceforth to be known as His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, thus confirming a title which common usage and general affection have already largely accorded to him.

The effect of the announcement is really to give His Royal Highness the same position and title that he would have if he had been born a member of the Royal Family.  It does not, of course, affect the succession. But it does signify appreciation of the unselfish devotion of His Royal Highness to the public interest.


His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

Draft Note on Letters Patent

The Letters Patent were passed under the Great Seal pursuant to a Warrant approved by Her Majesty The Queen under the Royal Sign Manual commanding the Lord Chancellor "that under theGreat Seal of Our Realm remaining in your custody you cause these Our letters to be made forth Patent."

The Queen's command for the preparation of the warrant was given by the Home Secretary to the Clerk of the Crown in Chancery. By Act of Parliament the clerk of the Crown is responsible for preparing all warrants for the purpose of passing instruments under the Great Seal, and according to tradition hie surname appears at the foot of the document.  After The Queen had approved the Warrant one of the three lady artists who do illuminated lettering for the Crown Office was directed to prepare the Letters Patent, the wording to follow exactly the wording of the Warrant.  Miss Hutton, who prepared this document, is a member of the Society of Scribes and Illuminators.   The Letters Patent are on vellum and the great Seal is attached by a plaited gold cord.

The Seal is a cellulose acetate preparation.  It is the custom to make the Seal in green for documents conferring high dignities and honours: other Seals are in red.   The sealing operation takes two hours. The two silver matrices of the Great Seal are heated in a special oven and a suitable quantity of the sealing preparation is then compressed between them.



return to Styles and Titles of the British royal family
British Heraldry Page | Search Heraldica | Heraldic Glossary | Contact

François Velde

Last modified: Oct 05, 2006