When Prince Edward married Sophie Rhys Jones in 1999, he was created Earl of Wessex1, and so upon marriage, Sophie became The Countess of Wessex. In a surprise move, it was also announced that any children they may have were to be styled as children of an Earl. Any daughters would be a Lady, while the eldest son would be “Viscount Severn” and any subsequent sons would be “The Honourable.”
However, according to the 1917 Letters Patent, any children of the monarch’s son, which Prince Edward is, are assigned princely status and the style of Royal Highness. So when their daughter Louise was born in 2003, she would actually be entitled to be called, “Her Royal Highness Princess Louise of Wessex” but per the earlier press release, she is referred to as “Lady Louise Windsor.” The 1917 Letters Patent are still in effect today, though it has been revised to include the children of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales (namely The Duke of Cambridge’s children, George, Charlotte and Louis).
It could be argued that a press release is not sufficient to counter a Letters Patent and therefore Louise is still legally entitled to call herself Princess Louise. In 2020, her mother confirmed this when she told the Sunday Times, “We try to bring them up with the understanding that they are very likely to have to work for a living. Hence we made the decision not to use HRH titles. They have them and can decide to use them from 18, but it’s highly unlikely.”2
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