The title of Princess Royal is usually granted by the British monarch to their eldest daughter. It was Henrietta Maria of France, consort of King Charles I, who wanted to have a title similar to the “Madame Royale” title in France. It was their daughter Mary, who became the first Princess Royal in 1642. However, the French Madame Royale was often used for the eldest unmarried daughter and could pass to the next daughter when the elder married. The British Princess Royal title is for life and can only be granted again when the holder dies.
So far, there have been seven Princesses Royal.
Mary was the daughter of King Charles I and Henrietta Maria of France, and she was also the first bearer of the title, ‘Princess Royal’. Mary was born on 4 November 1631 at St. James’s Palace as the eldest of nine children. On 2 May 1641, she married the future William II, Prince of Orange and together they had one son – the future King William III of England. In 1642, she was created Princess Royal, and she held the title until her death in 1660.
Anne was born on 2 November 1709 as the daughter of King George II of Great Britain and Caroline of Ansbach. On 30 August 1727, George II created his eldest daughter Princess Royal as the title had remained unused since 1660. In 1734, Anne married William IV, Prince of Orange. They had a happy marriage, but Anne suffered several miscarriages before giving birth to a daughter named Carolina and a son and heir, the future William V. She died on 12 January 1759.
Charlotte, Princess Royal and Queen of Württemberg
Charlotte was born on 29 September 1766 as the daughter of King George III of the United Kingdom and Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. On 22 June 1789, she was created Princess Royal by her father. On 18 May 1797, she married Frederick, Hereditary Prince of Württemberg and subsequently became Hereditary Princess, Duchess, Electress and finally Queen of Württemberg. They had one child together – a stillborn daughter. She died on 6 October 1828.
Victoria was born on 21 November 1840 as the daughter of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and Prince Albert. On 19 January 1841, she was created Princess Royal by her mother. On 25 January 1858, she married the future Frederick III, German Emperor, whose reign would be tragically short. They went on to have eight children together, though two would die in childhood. She died on 5 August 1901.
Louise was born on 20 February 1867 as the daughter of King Edward VII and Alexandra of Denmark. On 27 July 1889, she married Alexander Duff, 1st Duke of Fife and they had three children together, though their only son was stillborn. On 9 November 1905, she was created Princess Royal by her father. She died on 4 January 1931.
Mary was born on 25 April 1897 as the daughter of King George V and Mary of Teck. On 28 February 1922, she married Viscount Lascelles, later Earl of Harewood and they went on to have two sons together. On 1 January 1932, just short of one year following the death of the previous Princess Royal, she was created Princess Royal by her father. She died on 28 March 1965. As she was alive during the entire reign of King George VI, the future Queen Elizabeth II could not be created Princess Royal.
The current holder of the title is Anne, the only daughter of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. She was born on 5 August 1950. On 14 November 1973, she married Mark Phillips, and they went on to have a son and a daughter together. Anne was created Princess Royal on 13 June 1987.1 Anne and Mark eventually divorced on 23 April 1992. On 12 December 1992, she remarried to Timothy Laurence. Anne undertakes royal duties on behalf of her mother.
The next possible holder of the Princess Royal title would be the daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Princess Charlotte. As said before, she could only be granted the title once her father becomes King, and the previous holder has died.