Today marks Lady Louise Windsor’s 20th birthday. Born at Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey, England, on November 8, 2003, she is the cherished daughter of Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex.
As the first child of the couple, Lady Louise did not receive a royal title due to an established inheritance tradition, which bypasses the daughters in favor of sons in the peerage system. Despite being the elder sibling, her younger brother, James, Viscount Severn, will celebrate his 16th birthday in December and will inherit their father’s former title as Earl of Wessex.
When Prince Edward was granted the Duke of Edinburgh title on his 59th birthday, his wife, Sophie, became the Duchess of Edinburgh, and their son James succeeded his father’s former title. However, this did not result in a change of title for Lady Louise. This was due to the limitation in the use of courtesy titles, which are typically reserved for the eldest living son and his descendants.
In this context, as the daughter of an Earl, Lady Louise has been styled ‘Lady’ since her birth in 2003, adhering to the established traditions of the peerage system. Similarly, other notable instances, such as the daughters of Charles Spencer, bear courtesy titles like Lady Kitty, Lady Amelia, Lady Eliza, Lady Lara, and Lady Charlotte, while his eldest son, Louis Spencer, is styled Viscount Althorp, according to the BBC.
The hereditary nature of the Earl of Wessex title contrasts with the non-hereditary status of the Duke of Edinburgh title. Upon Prince Edward’s passing, the Duke of Edinburgh’s title will not pass to his children; instead, it will revert to the Crown.
This development paves the way for one of the children of the Prince and Princess of Wales to potentially inherit the title in the future, with Prince Louis appearing as the most likely candidate. Ultimately, James will assume the title of Earl of Wessex and Forfar when the Duke of Edinburgh title reverts to the Crown, as confirmed by the Palace.
While Prince Edward will retain the title of Earl of Forfar for the remainder of his life, he currently uses the Duke of Edinburgh title, considering it as the more senior Scottish title.