What will the newest addition to the royal family, Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana, a.k.a. the ‘spare heir’, do with her life? With Prince George, it’s quite clear: He will go to Eton, join the army after he gets out of college, and then become King. He will follow the path set for him by his father, Prince William, and his grandfather, Prince Charles. Princess Charlotte’s road looks a lot less clear.
The Daily Beast has a long report detailing the male-oriented nature of the royal family, which will continue with Prince George being the first in line to the throne. Things may have been different if Princess Charlotte was born first, especially with the new law changes [which stated that whoever was firstborn would become the heir, regardless of gender], but she wasn’t. She was born second, and so she will forever be designated with the title of the ‘spare heir’, just like Prince Harry.
However, unlike Prince Harry, Princess Charlotte is a girl – and as the ‘spare heir’ and ALSO a girl, things are far more uncertain for her than they were for Prince Harry. As the Daily Mail writer Catherine Ostler writes, “Being a Royal spare, male or female, can be a nebulous and potentially humiliating role. Margaret, Andrew (who of course was the spare rather than Anne even though he was younger) and Harry have all had an air of frustration or confusion around them sometimes. There is not much in the role, unless in extremis.”
And just like them – and maybe even doubly so – Princess Charlotte will have a difficult time establishing herself as anything other than a royal clothes-horse for show. However, the writer also adds, “The Queen has established a deep held respect for women within the institution, so as long as William and Kate continue to follow her example there’s no reason why Princess Charlotte of Cambridge should not be able to stand as a strong, independent, fully-equal spare to the heir now and in the years ahead.”
Let’s hope that’s the case, since we really do need the monarchy to re-invent itself, especially where their women are concerned.
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