In a recent column I pointed out there was only one Royal Australian Title. This is the one reserved for the reigning Sovereign. Just as Prince Philip has no Australian title, neither would the wife of a King of Australia. As we know, the intention is that on his accession, Charles’ wife will be fully recognized as such. This means the marriage is in no way and was never suggested to be morganatic, or purely private. However the intention is that on the accession, she is to be known as the Princess Consort, rather than using the title Queen Consort.
On only two occasions have a husband and wife ruled as Sovereigns.
The first occasion was in the reign of Mary I and Philip ( of Spain), who were styled:
By the Grace of God King and Queen of England, Spain, France, Jerusalem, both the Sicilies and Ireland, Defenders of the Faith, Archdukes of Austria, Dukes of Burgundy, Milan and Brabant, Counts of Hapsburg, Flanders and Tyrol.
The second and only other case was the reign of William of Orange ( William II) and Mary II. They were styled:
By the Grace of God, King and Queen of England, France and Ireland, Defenders of the Faith, etc.
At some time in the future, it is anticipated Charles will become King. He will obviously then rule alone, as The Queen does. The Royal Marriage has absolutely no constitutional implications for Australia. That the republican movement are suggesting that is does demonstrates the desperation in their ranks when they know that support for their cause peaked before the 1999 referendum, and that the youth of Australia are just not interested in fundamental constitutional change. But let us return to today. In discussing the current situation in my recent column, I had abbreviated The Queen’s Australian title. A reader pointed out that I had left out that part of the title which reminds us of that The Queen reigns by the Grace of God.
While Gough Whitlam did not, as is sometimes stated, create the title of Queen of Australia, he revised it by removing a specific reference to the United Kingdom which had been in place since the Royal Style and Titles Act, 1953, legislation introduced by Sir Robert Menzies. It was Sir Robert who introduced the title Queen of Australia, no Mr Whitlam. It is said that when Mr Whitlam was revising the legislation, he proposed the removal of the reference to the Almighty. It is also said The Queen objected and the words remained. In any event, the Australian title is:-
Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God Queen of Australia and Her Other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth. There is no title in Australia for the consort or spouse of the Sovereign. Of course, as a matter of courtesy, we would refer to the spouse of the Sovereign by his or her British courtesy title. It is interesting to note The Queen’s titles in Canada, which are expressed in both English and French:
Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom, Canada and Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith. Elizabeth Deux, par la grâce de Dieu, Reine du Royaume-Uni, du Canada et de ses autres royaumes et territoires, Chef du Commonwealth, Défendeur de la Foi. In the United Kingdom they are expressed in English and Latin: Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith. Elizabeth II, Dei Gratia Britanniarum Regnorumque Suorum Ceterorum Regina, Consortionis Populorum Princeps, Fidei Defensor.
Finally, it is also interesting to note the changes in the Royal Style and Titles over the years. It is sometimes forgotten, and some republicans would like Australians not to know that The Crown is, after all, the institution under which this country was founded, became self governing, united into one indissoluble Federal Commonwealth, and became independent. It is our oldest institution, one above politics. It is part of our heritage, and the changes made reflect some of the major constitutional developments in the Commonwealth of Nations. No one would destroy any other part of our heritage, why should we destroy this institution?
So let us go back to the time of the founding of our nation.
At the time of Captain Cook’s voyage of discovery and of the settlement in 1788, our Sovereign, George III’s style was as King of Great Britain, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, etc. That France was included often comes as a surprise. Although France was to be defeated at Waterloo, no one thought seriously of incorporating France into the United Kingdom, although Churchill did propose in the darkest days of the Second World War the Union of Britain and France!
The reference to Great Britain in the Royal Style had resulted from the union of England and Scotland into Great Britain in 1707 under Queen Anne. This continued until 1801, when Great Britain and Ireland combined to become the United Kingdom. The necessary change in the Royal Style gave King George III the opportunity to drop that outdated reference to France. It had been claimed from Edward III, and was based on the title the Norman kings had to Normandy, as well as titles to Anjou and Aquitaine claimed from Henry II. George III also deleted the “etc." from the style. Rejecting the suggestion that he take the title Emperor, he accordingly became George III of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland King, Defender of the Faith. Incidentally, the title, Defender of the Faith, has not been used in Australia since we adopted a separate Royal Title in 1953. It had been awarded to Henry VIII by Pope Leo X after he wrote a book critical of Martin Luther. It was revoked by Pope Paul III after Henry VIII broke away from the Roman Catholic Church because of disagreements over his marriage to Catherine of Aragon.
Henry, however, continued to use it. The next change had to wait until 1876, when Victoria became the Empress of India. Her successors would, until 1948, be known as the King – Emperor. In the meantime, Edward VII changed the style to reflect the increasing relevance of the Dominions, the self- governing nations of the Empire by a specific acknowledgement of them. These included the recently established Commonwealth of Australia to which the Imperial Parliament had even granted something not even given to the senior Dominion, Canada, the right to amend its Constitution without reference to London So Edward confirmed that as King-Emperor he was not only King of the United Kingdom; His Majesty was also King of the Dominions, but not yet separately. This was recorded by adding "and of the British Dominions beyond the Seas" after "Ireland." So until 1927, the Sovereign’s title was George V, By the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and of the British Dominions beyond the Seas King, Defender of the Faith, and Emperor of India.
In 1927, the UK Parliament enacted The Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act (17 Geo 5, c. 4). The Act, and the Proclamation made under, it can be seen at:
By changing the name of the Parliament, the new name of the United Kingdom (UK) became the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, rather then Great Britain and Ireland. ( This recognized the secession from the UK of the Irish Free State in 1922.)
More importantly, by changing the King's title, the Act began the legal recognition of the fact that the concept of a single crown ruling the British Empire was in the process of giving way to a Commonwealth with multiple crowns. Each of the Dominions was in the process of becoming a separate Kingdom or Realm. This was an important step in the evolution of the Dominions towards full independence, already recognized in the Balfour Declaration of 1926, and formalized in the Statute of Westminster, 1931, which was adopted in Australia only in 1942
Under the 1927 legislation, there was still only one title, which was used in all of the Dominions and the UK. This was: George V, By the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas King, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India.
The Preamble to the Statute of Westminster notes the constitutional position that any law touching on the Succession or the Royal Style and Titles requires the assent of all the parliaments of the Realms. In 1948, with the independence of India and Pakistan, the title Emperor of India was abandoned.
In 1952 a Commonwealth Conference decided that after consultation, each Realm could adopt its own title, but they should have a common element-“Queen of Her other Realms and Territories and Head of the Commonwealth”
The Royal Style of Sovereigns since settlement have, been:
From –1801: George III By the Grace of God, Queen of Great Britain, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, etc.
1801–1876: George III, George IV, William IV, Victoria By the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland King, Defender of the Faith
1876–1901: Victoria, Edward VII, By the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Queen, Defender of the Faith, Empress of India
1901–1927: Edward VII, George V By the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and of the British Dominions beyond the Seas King, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India.
1927–1948: George V, George VI By the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas King, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India
1948–1953: George VI: By the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas King, Defender of the Faith
1953–Elizabeth II: By the Grace of God, Queen of Australia and Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth.
[This table has been adapted from Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Style_of_the_British_Sovereign]