As was the case with David Carnegie, whose grandfather (Charles, the 11th Earl of Southesk) lived to the age of 98. Of course, he had been styled as the Earl of Macduff (not Lord Carnegie) since birth. But whether he was the Earl of Macduff or Lord Carnegie, not even his eldest son (Charles) would have had any courtesy title whatsoever. Then in 1992, things changed.
There is nothing like upward mobility: the 10th, 11th, and 12th earls of Southesk were all born Honourable, for reasons that their fathers were not yet heirs to the earldom. And as you say, there is no more tertiary title associated with the Duke of Fife. Otherwise, Charles Carnegie from birth (1989) would have had a courtesy title for sure. His younger brothers, of course, would remain Honourable until the death in 2015 of their grandfather.
Which is what they still would be, had their father (David) inherited only the earldom of Southesk. Now, once Charles has children, his eldest son will be styled as Lord Carnegie, his younger sons will be Honourable, and his daughters Lady -- correct? It's too bad that nobody can be styled as the Earl of Macduff.
As for James: had he been heir only to the earldom of Southesk, he would have had to wait until the age of 62, before finally becoming a peer in his own right. His own only surviving son and heir also didn't inherit anything until the mature age of 54. But that's how it goes: James' father didn't become the 11th earl until the age of 48, in 1941; and his father before him didn't become the 10th earl until age 50, in 1905.
And David Carnegie has never had anything to *complain* about, since he had already been styled all his life with the courtesy title of Earl (first Macduff, then Southesk). Likewise his sister has been Lady Alexandra all her life, never a mere Honourable (her father was already a duke when she was born). I'm assuming that James named his daughter more after his maternal aunt (the 2nd duchess of Fife), than his great-grandmother (the queen consort of King Edward VII). It certainly was understandable that he chose Alexandra, rather than Maud (his mother's name)...
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