A daughter for Sophie would save family name
By Caroline Davies
Prince Philip's deep-rooted desire for his descendants to bear his family name may at last be realised - with the birth of a daughter to the Earl and Countess of Wessex.
While the Earl's first-born son will have no surname because he will be titled Viscount Severn, a daughter will hold the title of Lady and the surname Mountbatten-Windsor.
The birth of a daughter to the Countess, who is expecting her first child in December, will present the first opportunity for a royal child to bear the surname since the Queen proclaimed, more than 40 years ago, her desire for her husband's name to be passed down.
The Mountbatten-Windsor name will be possible because of the Earl and Countess's declared intention that their children should not take the "HRH" style they are entitled to. This was announced at their wedding four years ago but, as yet, there has been no formal Royal Warrant stipulating that their children will forgo the royal style.
It is expected that the Queen will sign a Royal Warrant expressing her will around the time of the birth of the child, who will be eighth in line to the throne.
The Earl and Countess's decision is a tribute to the 82-year-old Prince, who is close to the couple. The Earl is expected to inherit the title Duke of Edinburgh, and has been continuing his father's work with the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme.
The only other occasion on which the name Mountbatten-Windsor has been used in any official capacity was when Princess Anne married her first husband Capt Mark Phillips in 1973. She requested that the Queen allow her to put her name on the register as Mountbatten-Windsor. It was a gesture the Queen was delighted to approve.
It is a matter of great importance to Prince Philip that his name is passed on. He was born Prince Philip of Greece, but in a move designed by his ambitious uncle Lord Mountbatten to endear him to the British nation, the Prince adopted the appellation Mountbatten on his naturalisation shortly before his engagement to Princess Elizabeth. Mountbatten was, itself, an anglicised version of his mother's Battenberg family name.
But when his wife took the throne, the question of what the Royal Family and its descendants should be called taxed the finest brains in Britain.
The Queen was a Windsor, which itself was adopted by the British Royal Family by proclamation of King George V in 1917, replacing the German name House of Saxe-Coburg Gotha.
Prince Philip was prevented from passing on his name after Winston Churchill's cabinet put pressure on the Queen following speculation that their first-born, Prince Charles, would become the first King in the House of Mountbatten.
The Queen, who sympathised with her husband's desire to pass on the name of Mountbatten, found herself caught in the crossfire, and was eventually persuaded to give her formal approval to a proclamation in April 1952, that she and her descendants "should continue to bear the family name of Windsor".
Prince Philip, angered by the government's decision, complained to friends: "I am the only man in the country not allowed to give his name to his children".
In 1960, with the birth of her third child, Prince Andrew, imminent, the Queen told a meeting of the Privy Council that she had decided that her descendants, other than her children, those entitled to use the style of "Royal Highness" and the title of Prince and Princes and the descendants of females who marry, would bear the surname Mountbatten-Windsor.