It was the first time we’d heard her speak. When Lady Louise talked fondly of her late grandfather in the BBC One documentary Prince Philip: The Royal Family Remembers, she did it with confidence, passion, and a sense of duty.
With her 18th birthday approaching in November, I think an appropriate gift would be that she starts using her official title, Her Royal Highness Princess Louise, and that she starts taking the track towards becoming a full-time working royal like her parents.
The teenage royal first glimpsed a worldwide audience at the wedding of her cousin, Prince William, in 2011. She was invited to be one of Kate’s young bridesmaids. In the years since, we’ve seen her only at family events, like Christmas morning walks to church at Sandringham, or on the odd engagement with her parents.
And we’ve heard about her life through interviews given by Edward and Sophie. She sat her A-levels and is a passionate carriage driver, taking up the beloved sport her grandfather helped create.
Last year Louise’s mother, the Countess of Wessex, was interviewed by The Times about her work in the Commonwealth and her family life.
Of Louise’s life on the fringe of royalty, Sophie said: “What’s normal? They go to a regular school. They go to friends for sleepovers and parties. At weekends we do lots of dog walking and stay with friends. I guess not everyone’s grandparents live in a castle, but where you are going is not the important part, or who they are. When they are with the Queen, she is their grandmother.”
She elaborated that both Louise and her younger brother James, Viscount Severn, will likely have to work for a living and find a career outside the Firm. “Hence we made the decision not to use HRH titles. They have them and can decide to use them from 18, but I think it’s highly unlikely.”
From birth Lady Louise has been entitled to the style and title of a princess given her descent in the male line from Queen Elizabeth II. She uses the courtesy style of the daughter of an earl, as her parents became the Earl and Countess of Wessex on their wedding day in 1999 (with the understanding that someday they would inherit the dukedom of Edinburgh after both The Queen and Prince Philip had passed), but legally she should be styled Her Royal Highness Princess Louise.
In the documentary celebrating her grandfather’s life, Louise spoke of her desire to complete the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award—the eponymous youth-focused scheme he created in 1956—and to make him proud.
“’There was certainly an element of making my grandfather proud and honouring him by taking part in the award that has been so much of his life’s work. I definitely hope I have made him proud.
“I’d always wanted to do it because of the skills you develop as a result. My favourite part was my expeditions. Just having that level of independence and self sufficiency and having that sense of achievement when it was finished.”
With her parents’ focus on the Duke of Edinburgh Awards, it would be a logical step for Louise to involve herself in engagements surrounding the scheme herself; to keep it continuing through the generations as her parents eventually retire from royal duties.
With a shortage of working royals trying to keep up the pace with their work in the UK, the Commonwealth, as well as overseas engagements to promote Britain at the behest of the government, there simply aren’t enough people to maintain the workload.
The Queen, the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the Earl and Countess of Wessex, and the Princess Royal are the current key players: eight to cover a massive workload. The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the Duke of Kent, and Princess Alexandra also still work, albeit at a slower pace now than they used to.
To keep up the functions of the Royal Family, especially in the coming generations, Louise would be a vital addition to the working royal fold. In my opinion, for her to announce her intentions to use her royal title and to become a working royal from her 18th birthday, it would only mean good things for the Royal Family.
Here’s hoping that on 8 November 2021, Buckingham Palace issues a statement on her behalf announcing these intentions.