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Princess Royal is a style customarily (but not automatically) awarded by a British monarch to his or her eldest daughter. The style is held for life, so a princess cannot be given the style during the lifetime of another Princess Royal. In particular, Queen Elizabeth II never held the title as her aunt, Princess Mary, was in possession of the title.
The title Princess Royal came into existence when Queen Henrietta Maria (1609–1669), daughter of Henry IV, King of France, and wife of King Charles I (1600–1649), wanted to imitate the way the eldest daughter of the King of France was styled "Madame Royale".
Princess Mary (later Queen Mary II) (1662–1694), eldest daughter of King James II & VII, and Princess Sophia Dorothea (1687–1757), only daughter of King George I, were eligible for this honour but did not receive it. At the time she became eligible for the title, Princess Mary was already Princess of Orange, while Sophia Dorothea was already Queen in Prussia when she became eligible for the title.
Princess Louisa Maria (1692–1712), the last daughter of King James II (d. 1701), born after he lost his crown in the Glorious Revolution, was given the title of Princess Royal during James's exile at Saint-Germain-en-Laye and was so called by Jacobites, even though she was not James's eldest living daughter at any time during her life.
Even before the title of Princess Royal came into use in England, the eldest daughter of the King or Queen of England had a special status in law. For instance, according to Magna Carta, aids were due from the barons of the realm to finance the first wedding of the king's eldest daughter; and by a statute of the 25th year of King Edward III, sleeping with the king's eldest daughter before her marriage constitutes an act of high treason punishable by death.
The following is a complete list of women formally styled Princess Royal:
from (date) to (date)
|1||Mary, Princess Royal|
|1641||William II, Prince of Orange|
|Disputed||Louisa Maria Teresa Stuart|
|2||Anne, Princess Royal|
|1734||William IV, Prince of Orange|
|3||Charlotte, Princess Royal|
|1797||King Frederick I of Württemberg|
|4||Victoria, Princess Royal|
|1858||Frederick III, German Emperor|
|5||Louise, Princess Royal|
|1889||Alexander Duff, 1st Duke of Fife|
|6||Mary, Princess Royal|
|1922||Henry Lascelles, 6th Earl of Harewood|
|7||Anne, Princess Royal|
|1992||Sir Timothy Laurence|
Princess Royal was one of the GWR 3031 Class locomotives that were built for and run on the Great Western Railway between 1891 and 1915. The LMS Class 8P "Princess Royal" 4-6-2 was a type of express passenger locomotive built between 1933 and 1935 by the London Midland & Scottish Railway
Princess Royal is an abandoned town in the Western Australian Goldfields, named for Victoria, Princess Royal, daughter of Queen Victoria.
In the Thai monarchy, the style of Maha Chakri for Princess Sirindhorn of Thailand is similar to the position of Princess Royal.
Five ships of the Royal Navy have been named HMS Princess Royal.