Yes, punters, you read that right! If you thought you had a ‘very involved’ mother-in-law, spare a thought for Meghan and Harry …
Grandpa George is to blame
… and Kate and William, too!
It seems a law passed WAY back in the 1700’s by a slightly bitter grandpa (aka King George I) still stands and it gives the monarch the right to make some VERY big decisions about their grandchildren’s movements. This means that the Queen is the legal custodian of Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis – as well as any kids that Meghan and Harry have.
“The sovereign has legal custody of the minor grandchildren,” royal buff Marlene Koenig has just told news.com.au. “This goes back to King George I, and the law’s never been changed.”
“He did it because he had a very poor relationship with his son, the future King George II, so they had this law passed that meant the King was the guardian of his grandchildren.”
Passed in 1717, ten out of twelve assembled judges ruled that the King’s “right of supervision extended to his grandchildren and this right of right belongs to His Majesty, King of the Realm, even during their father’s lifetime”.
Read more about the royals:
- Royal bodyguard concerned for Prince George and Princess Charlotte’s safety
- Ooh la la! Princess Charlotte has a French-y royal title waiting in the wings
- Why Duchess Kate takes the official photos of George, Charlotte and Louis
Ask the Queen, plz
Not only does this law remain in place, it’s still used at the Queen’s discretion, although the intricacies of just when and where seem a little foggy.
“When [Princes Harry and William] were little, Prince Charles asked the Queen if both children could fly on a plane together to Scotland, to which the Queen said yes,” Marlene explained. “Technically, they needed permission for travel. The Queen has the last word on parenting decisions like that.”
Thus the Queen would be consulted every time the whole family seeks to pop off overseas with the royal kiddos – and has the right to veto any trip. And veto trips she has, with Princess Diana falling foul of this law when she and Charles separated.
The Queen says “stay put”
During the dissolution of her marriage, Diana had threatened to take William and Harry and move to Australia but was stonewalled with a reminder that she did not have legal custody of her boys, and that she could not leave the country with them unless she had the Queen’s authorisation.
“The Queen has the last word in the custody upbringing, education and even the right of abode of the princes, even during the lifetime of their father, Prince Charles. As for their mother, the Princess of Wales, her say is a matter of discretion and negotiation,” constitutional expert Michael L Nash apparently told The Times back in 1993 (per Royal Musings.)
The Queen says “get a divorce”
The Queen was very involved in how Charles and Diana’s relationship played out, from all accounts, going as far as to command their divorce.
“Queen Elizabeth II has ordered her son Prince Charles and his estranged wife, Princess Diana, to divorce, Buckingham Palace said Wednesday night,” The LA Times reported back in 1995. Gulp.
“The Queen’s command came in separate letters to Charles and Diana earlier this week, a palace spokesman said. In response, Charles, 47, whose future position as England’s king would not be affected by a divorce, has agreed in writing to formally end his 14-year marriage to Diana. The response from Diana, 34, separated from Charles for the past three years, is not known.”
There are other guidelines around royal travel too, with the most notable one being that heirs to the throne should travel separately.
“Royal protocol is that two heirs should never fly on the same flight together so that the royal lineage is protected,” Hello Magazine reports, noting that this has been loosened up considerably in recent times.
“Despite there being no official rule in place,” Hello says, “heirs must still seek permission from Queen Elizabeth, who has the final say on the matter. In fact, Prince William was granted permission from the Queen to bend the rules when his son was just nine months old; Prince George accompanied his parents on a tour of Australia and New Zealand in 2014. In September 2016, the Cambridges also travelled as a family of four to Canada with Princess Charlotte. And in July 2017, the family toured Poland and Germany, boarding three flights together.”
It seems that these protocols and rules might be on the way out. Here’s hoping that the next monarch vetoes this outdated custody law altogether.