Margaret Minnicks has been an online writer for many years. She writes articles that are interesting to her readers.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are proud parents of three children, Prince George, 5, Princess Charlotte, 3, and six-month-old Prince Louis. However, they do not have legal custody of any of them.
According to royal historians, the minor children are in the custody of Queen Elizabeth. The 92-year-old great-grandmother is the legal guardian of the children. In the case of her death, Prince Charles who will then be King of England will have legal custody of his son's children. As a side note, Prince Charles is already responsible for giving allowances to his two adult sons and their wives.
Why Queen Elizabeth Has Legal Custody
There is a law that is more than 300 years old that gives the monarch custody of the minors. Ten out of 12 judges passed the law in 1717. The majority decided the monarch has the right to supervise and make major decisions for minor children.
King George was the monarch at the time the law was passed, and it was never taken from the royal rule book or revised in any way. He favored the law because he did not have a good relationship with his son, the future King George II. Therefore, he wanted to be guardian over his grandchildren.
The original wording of the law states that the monarch is in charge of the grandchildren's education and their care, where they live and travel, appointing their caregivers and giving them permission to marry.
According to royal expert Marlene Koenig, the law was legislated again in 1772 during the reign of King George III and is still enforced to this day. Therefore, legally Queen Elizabeth has the final say over how her minor great-grandchildren should be raised. This is especially true when it comes to their upbringing, education, travel, and marriage.
When Prince William and Harry were minors, Prince Charles needed his mother's permission to travel with them. Of course, Queen Elizabeth was accustomed to saying yes, but the permission had to be requested in advance. Before Princess Diana's death, she also needed permission for her children to travel with her.
In the late 1990s, Prince Charles needed Queen Elizabeth's permission to send teenager Prince William on a holiday to the United States.
Custody arrangements were not stated in the divorce decree of Prince Charles and Diana. Neither was it stated in Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson's divorce decree. That's because the parents never had legal custody of their children in the first place. Therefore, the monarch's arrangements were not affected.
Before her death, Princess Diana requested to have her children raised by her brother and mother. However, her wish was ignored by the Palace.
The Present Day Law
Even though the law still exists on paper, is it enforced today? Queen Elizabeth is still the legal guardian of the three children of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. She will also have legal custody of any children born to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
The royal expert did say that while the law still exists, it is more of a formality than what is actually enforced. Koenig says if and when Prince Charles becomes King of England, he will also have legal custody of his grandchildren. More than likely, he will not enforce the law. He will be more respectful of his sons' parenting style and probably will not need to require them to get permission concerning important decisions. Prince Charles understands what it is like to have to ask permission to raise children because he had to do the same when his own children were minors.
When Charles becomes king, technically he will have custody of his grandchildren, but he isn't likely to override major decisions.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's Children
Unless the rule changes, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will not be the legal guardians of their own children just as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are not legal guardians of their three children.
Exceptions might be made since Prince Harry and Meghan are more modern than royals in the past.
Donna Turner on March 14, 2020:
Thats some law, I didnt think the Oueen had that much say when it came to there children. Then why is it that Kate has the authority to tell them to stay away from Kenningston Palace,cause there raising there kids with out all those rules.. Im confused or I just got bad gossip.
Carole on December 02, 2018:
You have very good knowledge of these royal laws and give a better understanding by good research
Susie Gabrik on November 29, 2018:
That's a LOT of power for one person!
Litza on November 15, 2018:
Very interesting, I’ve never heard of this law before.
Margaret Minnicks (author) from Richmond, VA on October 23, 2018:
Larry, I hadn't heard of the law before, but I found it very interesting to write about. Thanks for reading my article.
Larry Slawson from North Carolina on October 23, 2018:
Wow, that's really interesting. I had never heard of this law before.
Margaret Minnicks (author) from Richmond, VA on August 27, 2018:
Yes, Amelia! There are some very interesting royal laws that have been on the books for years.
Amelia Bauman from Clearwater, Florida on August 27, 2018:
Wow! I knew that Lady D had to ask Queen's permission, but I thought it was due to piety and tradition, when in fact there's an actual law!
Margaret Minnicks (author) from Richmond, VA on August 25, 2018:
Thanks so much for your encouragement, Anne. Your kind comments help me to "keep keeping on!"
Anne Cox on August 25, 2018:
I think: You always top yourself in your writing, Margaret. Not only is this article so well-written, it is also fascinating history about why so the Queen has custody. Astounding.