Burke's Peerage to include illegitimate children

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The Independent Online

Being bastard born is no longer the social disaster it once was.

These days, even that yellow pages of the aristocracy, Burke's Peerage, will let you in if your parents enjoyed the conjugal benefits of marriage without the hassle of a wedding.

For almost two centuries illegitimate offspring have been shunned by Burke's Peerage and Gentry but now new rules are being imposed to drag it into the modern age.

Illegitimate offspring of lords, ladies and other members of the aristocracy are to be recognised by the genealogical tome which wants to be "more inclusive" and has accepted that people "even from titled families" have children outside marriage.

And in a move that will cause yet more drinks to be spilled on the lawns of aristocratic mansions, girls are finally to get equal billing with boys.

For 173 years Burke's has relegated girls to the bottom of lists of offspring even if they were a couple's first-born. It meant the Princess Royal was mentioned only after her younger brothers, Princes Andrew and Edward.

The rule changes have been ordered by Royal editor William Bortrick, 33, and are being forced through despite "some resistance" from traditionalists.