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William and Kate don’t have full custody of their children, and this is why

A 300-years-old law dictates that the monarch has full custody of their minor grandchildren.

Being born a royal gives its members a whole set of rules and responsibilities they didn’t sign up for. From a life basically devoted to the service of the institution (unless they quit like Prince Harry) to having a really public life yet quite discreet, or not even being able to choose whatever path in life they want unless it abides by the lifestyle the monarchy follows.

Well, the things royal members have to sign up to be a part of the family go beyond that, including giving up legal rights every single being has. As you get from the title, that is having to resign to the right of having full custody of your children. Yep, the custody of George, Charlotte, and Louis doesn’t entirely belong to Prince William and Kate but to the Queen.

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A 3-centuries-old law

This goes back 300 hundred years to King George I who decided in the early 1700s to implement a law to prevent his children to allow his grandchildren to do anything they wanted. King George I didn’t have a great relationship with his son, and wanting to keep order within the royal family he decided he needed to have guardianship of his grandchildren; the next in the succession line.

So, according to the law, which was passed in 1717 and later on legislated once again in 1772, the sovereign “has legal custody of the minor grandchildren.” This law hasn’t changed in three centuries although Queen Elizabeth isn’t as strict as some monarchs before her.

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Now, what does having full custody of the sovereign’s minor grandchildren mean? The monarch’s custody or guardianship over their grandchildren means that they have full interference in their upbringing, travel matters, and education. The law dictates that they can decide over “the place of their abode, appointing governors and governesses, and the care and approbation of their marriages.”

Did Queen Elizabeth have full custody of Princes William and Harry?

Of course, the Queen had full custody of all her grandchildren until they became of age. One great example is that both Charles and Diana had to ask Queen Elizabeth for permission to take their kids on vacations out of London, or even the schools they attended.

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Naturally, as stated, Queen Elizabeth hasn’t been a tyrant over this law and has allowed her children to decide what they think it’s best for their own kin. This includes not only William and Harry but also Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, Zara Tindall and Peter Phillips, and Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor and James Mountbatten-Windsor. Still, for instance, she was firm to deny Diana a trip with her sons to Australia before her passing.

Who got the custody when the Queen’s children got divorced?

We are used to having long legal battles over the custody of children whenever a couple divorces. This is not the case in royal divorces since the custody isn’t theirs to discuss. So, having said that, the issue of custody of the children doesn’t even appear in the papers of royal divorces since it’s understood that the custody is still the Queen’s. So, for instance, if Princess Diana would’ve wanted to take her children and disappear she would’ve been in a serious legal predicament that could’ve even been understood as kidnapping.

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A legal loophole

Now, King George I’s law doesn’t say anything about great-grandchildren basically because he had none. So, although the law doesn’t really state that the monarch has custody over their great-grandchildren, William and Kate don’t really have full custody over Geroge, Charlotte, and Louis, and the Queen still has the last word regarding their upbringing and education.

It’s unclear if this applies to all her 12 great-grandchildren, but at least he does for those closest to her in the succession line, which is Prince William’s children. Still, whenever Prince Charles takes the throne, legally, he will have full custody not only of William and Kate’s kids but also Harry’s children, Lilibet Diana and Archie.

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