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It's official. The Queen has decreed if William and Kate's baby is in fact a female, she will be called "Her Royal Highness" and "Princess."
The decision was made official on December 31, but Queen Elizabeth publicly announced it on Wednesday, Kate Middleton's 31st birthday. The exact language was published in the London Gazette:
"The Queen has been pleased by Letters Patent under the Great Seal of the Realm dated 31 December 2012 to declare that all the children of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales should have and enjoy the style, title and attribute of royal highness with the titular dignity of Prince or Princess prefixed to their Christian names or with such other titles of honour."
Royal baby mania begins with questions on name, title, and succession
Without the new decree, a boy would have been called a Prince, but a girl would have been titled "Lady," as she would not have been first in line to succeed to the throne.
The Queen's formal declaration is in line with Parliament's plan to make an amendment that would allow for any royal baby, no matter its gender, to become the heir to the throne of England. In other words, the Queen's actions signal that she supports the idea that a female child born first would succeed to the throne.
"By issuing a formal decree to ensure the title of prince and princess to all the future children of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the Queen showed her support for reforms to gender equality," Victoria Arbiter, ABC News Royal Contributor, told Yahoo! Shine. "She also managed to eliminate at least one excuse for any sibling rivalry."
This decision overturns a decree made by Queen Elizabeth's grandfather George V in 1917, which declared the eldest son of the Prince of Wales to be first in line of succession.
Though Parliament has not officially passed the amendment yet, it is largely supported by most of the government, the royal family, and the public.
"There's no question the royal family has needed to modernize in terms of gender equality, and history shows that women have done very well in the top job so these changes are somewhat overdue," says Arbiter. "There's certainly no one in the UK who could argue that this is not a very positive step forward."
Official titles are sometimes confusing to Americans, who thought Kate Middleton would receive the title of Princess when she married Prince William in 2011. Instead, the Queen opted to give them both new titles, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Kate Middleton celebrated her 31st birthday at home with Prince William on Wednesday. Pregnant with the couple's first child, she's still recovering from an ugly bout of extreme morning sickness that landed her in the hospital for several days in December.
The recent declaration has many wondering if perhaps the royal family is already aware that the baby on the way is in fact, a girl.
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