Why the Queen's eldest grandson Peter Phillips doesn't have to follow royal protocol during his divorce
Peter Phillips and Autumn Kelly are getting a divorce — but they won't have to follow the same protocol as other royals. Already it's clear that the couple's split is being handled differently to other royal divorces. Buckingham Palace and the Queen have refused to make a statement on behalf of the pair, though one was made for both the separation of Princess Diana and Prince Charles, and Prince Andrew and the Duchess of York. This is because, although Phillips is the Queen's eldest grandson, he remains a private citizen and has no role within the monarchy, royal expert Marlene Koenig told Insider. Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.
Peter Phillips and Autumn Kelly announced on Tuesday that they are ending their 12-year marriage. However, Phillips — eldest grandson to the Queen and son to Princess Anne — so far hasn't followed any royal protocol during the divorce. Buckingham Palace has in the past announced divorces or separations within the family through an official public statement. For example, this was done for the separation of Princess Diana and Prince Charles, and Prince Andrew and the Duchess of York. However, the palace did not comment on Phillips and Kelly's separation when contacted by Insider on Tuesday. The Queen has not been publicly involved in the divorce Instead, a private spokesperson issued a statement from the couple, where they confirmed that Phillip and Kelly actually split last year and were only announcing it now because it was leaked by a British tabloid. During Charles and Diana's separation, it appeared that the Queen was heavily involved, as the palace issued a statement saying that the monarch had written to the couple and requested that they divorce, as reported by the LA Times. It would make sense for the Queen to be involved in such matters. After all, it was only until very recently that members of the royal family were forbidden from divorcing their partners. Queen Victoria did not allow her granddaughter, Princess Victoria, to split from her husband. The princess eventually did separate from him after the monarch passed away in 1901 — and that was the last royal divorce before Princess Margaret was given permission to divorce Lord Snowden 77 years later. In comparison, Phillips and Kelly said in their statement this week that they had agreed to separate after "informing" Her Majesty.
Marlene Koenig, a royal expert for History Extra, told Insider that despite his relation to Her Majesty, Phillips remains a "private citizen" and so he doesn't carry out decisions in the same way that other senior members of the family would. "Peter Phillips is not royal. He is the son of a princess, but his rank comes from his father, Mark Phillips," Koenig explained. "To paraphrase the late Princess Margaret, when asked about her children, 'My children are not royal. They have an aunt who is queen.'" "Peter and his family attend major events such as Trooping of the Colour and Thanksgiving Services as a wider group with royal relatives," she said. Although Phillips and Kelly both appear alongside the Queen at public events, they do not carry out public duties on her behalf and so are not considered "working royals." "He is the Queen's grandson but he has no role within the monarchy. He is a private citizen whose mom is a princess," she added. Kelly won't have to give up HRH status, because she never had it in the first place Phillips was born without a royal title and is currently in fifteenth place in the line of succession. This means that Kelly was not given a title upon the marriage, unlike Meghan Markle who became the Duchess of Sussex, and Kate Middleton who became the Duchess of Cambridge. When both Diana and Ferguson left the royal family, there was the matter of their royal titles, their HRH status, and their overall involvement in royal matters to be discussed.
Diana seemed to have a public disagreement with the royal family over whether she would retain her title after the divorce. In February 1996, the Irish Times reported that a spokesperson for Diana announced: "The Princess of Wales will retain the title and be known as Diana, Princess of Wales. In response, a spokesperson for the palace said: "All the details on these matters, including titles, remain to be discussed and settled. This will take time." Ultimately, both Diana and the Duchess of York were able to keep their titles, but were no longer allowed HRH status and were no longer considered senior royals. However, Koenig said that royal protocol does not apply to divorce "Protocols do not apply to divorces ... a word that is often misused when applied to royalty," she explained. "Protocol is what you wear to a state dinner, who sits where, what medals one wears," she said. "However, in the cases of the three divorces of the queen's children as well as Princess Margaret, they go through the same legal process as everyone else." Three of the Queen's children — Prince Charles, Prince Andrew, and Princess Anne — have gotten divorced, as well as Her Majesty's sister, the late Princess Margaret. Whether "protocol" is the correct terminology or not, there's no denying that the royals that came before Phillips and Kelly had to go through a slightly different procedure than everyone else when it came to separation. But as Koenig said, the legal proceedings have remained the same as everyone else. However, most families do not have to request the blessing of their mother or grandmother to officially separate from their partner. Instead of requesting Her Majesty's guidance, Phillips and Kelly "informed" the Queen of their split last year. Whether this was a product of a more relaxed institution or simply because of Phillips and Kelly's rank in the family, perhaps that is something we will not know for sure unless another more senior royal couple decide to separate. Read more: The Queen's grandson is getting a divorce. Here are 5 other royal couples who called it quits. The Queen's grandson Peter Phillips and his wife Autumn Kelly are divorcing after 12 years, but the couple denied rumors that she'll follow Meghan Markle to Canada Meghan Markle and Prince Harry could reunite with the royal family in a month for their first UK appearance since 'Megxit'Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Apple forever changed the biggest tech event of the year by not showing up
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Meghan Markle and Prince Harry could change their minds and decide to return to royal duties...Meghan Markle and Prince Harry could change their minds and decide to return to royal duties if Buckingham Palace were to review their situation down the line. Insider spoke to royal experts, who explained that the royal family could be leaving the door open for the duke and duchess to return. "It may well be that Harry's military links, which he will be sorry to forgo, especially that of Captain General of the Royal Marines, will remain vacant during that time just in case there is a rethink," royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams told Insider. However, Marlene Koenig, a royal expert for History Extra, told Insider that "the media would be without mercy" if the couple were to return. Visit Insider's homepage for more stories. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex's decision to resign from their royal duties and become financially independent could be up for review in just a year's time, according to royal experts. Although Buckingham Palace has not officially commented on what this means for Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, one possibility is that they could decide to return to royal life after this transitional period. "Harry and Meghan's choice of independence seems completely clear at the moment," Richard Fitzwilliams, a royal commentator, told Insider. "However, no one can predict the future with any certainty and the Queen, having released a statement after the Sandringham Summit confirming that they will not use their royal titles and will step down from royal duties but remain members of the royal family, wisely allowed for a reassessment of the situation after a year." Currently, the couple and their son, Archie, are spending time in Canada amid reports that staff at their Frogmore Cottage base in the UK have been relocated. Insider spoke to royal experts about the possibility that Harry and Markle could one day step back into their senior roles. Harry and Markle aren't the first couple to try and step back from the royal family Years before, another royal couple tried to earn their own living while simultaneously representing the Queen. But unlike Markle and Harry — who completely resigned from royal duties when they were told this wouldn't be possible — Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex, gave up their passion projects for royal life back in 2002. "When Prince Edward married Sophie, she was successful and she worked in PR, and he ran his own production company [Ardent]," Marlene Koenig, a royal expert for History Extra, told Insider. "The Queen agreed to allow the couple to work at their careers with some royal duties ... this worked for a bit but it all came crashing down in 2001," Koenig added, in reference to the News of the World journalist who went undercover as a potential client for Sophie's PR firm. "It was a real embarrassment for Sophie who made some awful comments about politicians, and it seemed that she was using her position to get high paying clients," she said. "That summer, new guidelines were issued for royals who wanted to do commercial work and be working royals." The couple then gave up their careers "on the pretense that they would be supporting the queen on the occasion of her Golden Jubilee," Koenig added. According to a report by Mail Online from 2002, the Queen paid Edward and Sophie $324,888 (£250,000) as compensation for loss of earnings after they announced plans to step down from their companies and spend more time on royal duties. Edward had spent a decade in business before making the decision to resign as Ardent's director of production and joint managing director. "Working and playing hard is fine as long as it is fun and rewarding," Edward said at the time, according to the Mail. "The opportunity to set up and run my own company has been the biggest challenge I have faced and yet has turned out to be enormous fun, immensely rewarding and full of surprises. "Yet I always knew in the back of my mind that one day things would have to change. Well, that day has come, not just for me, but also for my wife. "It is quite obvious that in this year, the Golden Jubilee, we are required more than ever to support the Queen and to help my family shoulder some of the increasing responsibilities and workload into the future," he added. While royal experts don't think it's likely, they say the royal family could leave the door open for Harry and Meghan to return When Prince Harry gave up his royal duties, he also gave up his military titles. Fitzwilliams argues that these may be left vacant in case the duke changes his mind before the review. "It may well be that Harry's military links, which he will be sorry to forgo, especially that of Captain General of the Royal Marines, will remain vacant during that time just in case there is a rethink," Fitzwilliams said. "Since — apart from Harry's role as Commonwealth Youth Ambassador — they will keep their patronages, were they to reassess their priorities, this could in theory be accommodated." However, Fitzwilliams added that "this would appear at the moment to be highly unlikely." "I don't think it will happen, [however] I do expect them to attend some of the big events, such as Beatrice's wedding or a service of thanksgiving, perhaps even the Trooping the Colour, appearing on the balcony with other members of the family," Koenig said. "I think Meghan found her voice being muted as a working royal so now she will have more opportunity to do good on hers and Harry's terms," she added. However, the British press wouldn't be as forgiving Koenig added that if the couple changed their minds, "the royal family would certainly welcome them back with open arms." "But the media would be without mercy," she said. "I would expect comments about tails between their legs." The couple have been locked in a battle with the British press since before Markle even married into the family. In 2016, Harry issued a statement condemning "the smear on the front page of a national newspaper; the racial undertones of comment pieces; and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments." The royal family's relationship with the press may have been one of the couple's deciding factors leading them to resign this year. The duke and duchess announced on their Sussex Royal website that they would no longer partake in the "royal rota," a system that allows a rotation of British newspapers and tabloids to attend their engagements. The couple wrote on their site that they "believe in a free, strong and open media industry, which upholds accuracy and fosters inclusivity, diversity, and tolerance." Kerry Daynes, a consultant forensic psychologist who often appears in the media, previously told Insider that she has been asked questions designed to achieve a negative and misleading response about Markle. "I have been asked (by British, more right-wing media) to comment on Harry and Meghan in my capacity as an expert in coercive control," Daynes told Insider. "I have been asked leading questions along the lines of, 'Can you confirm that isolating someone from their family is a tactic used by controlling partners?'" Not to mention, Markle launched a lawsuit against the Mail on Sunday after it published a letter she sent to her estranged father last year. This could further prove the couple's resolution to cut ties with their royal duties. However, as Fitzwilliams said, no "one can predict the future with any certainty," and Harry and Markle may one day decide to step back into their former roles. Perhaps this would seem more probable if the Queen were to change the royal family's media guidelines. Although this may seem unlikely (after all, the royal rota has been running successfully for more than 40 years) it's not impossible. For the first time, Her Majesty publicly acknowledged the brutal press treatment the couple have received in a rare statement made when they resigned. "I recognize the challenges they have experienced as a result of intense scrutiny over the last two years and support their wish for a more independent life," she said. Therefore, while there would likely have to be this essential factor in place before the duke and duchess considered returning to their roles, there's nothing to say it couldn't happen. Read more: Racism in the British media may have been a driving force behind Meghan Markle's 'step back' from the royal family Rare photos of Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton that the British press may not want you to see Meghan Markle's departure from the royal family means it's Kate Middleton's 'time to shine,' according to a royal expertJoin the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Apple forever changed the biggest tech event of the year by not showing up
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