Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, pose with their newborn son Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor during a photocall in St George's Hall at Windsor Castle in Windsor, England, on May 8, 2019. Credit - Dominic Lipinski—WPA/Getty Images
Queen Elizabeth II’s Sept. 8 death altered the line of royal succession, prompting questions about what–if any–titles Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s children, Archie, 3, and Lilibet, 1, will receive.
The two children, per a 1917 edict from King George V, are technically now a “prince” and “princess” because they are the grandchildren of the current monarch, King Charles III. But their parents stepped down as senior royals in Jan. 2020, leaving questions about whether the children receive the titles—and whether Meghan and Harry will want them to.
As of Sept. 10, their names on the Royal Family website were still listed as Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor and Lilibet Mountbatten-Windsor.
Meghan suggested last year in an interview with Oprah Winfrey that the Royal Family had discussed changing the convention for Archie, expressing concern that “the first member of color in this family not being titled in the same way that other grandchildren would be.”
“I heard a lot of it through Harry…it was a decision they felt was appropriate,” Meghan said at the time.
Meghan also noted that Queen Elizabeth II issued a “letters patent” in 2012 that granted Prince William and Kate Middleton’s three children “prince” and “princess” titles. (Previously, only their oldest son would have been granted the title.) But Meghan said the Royal Family decided not to give Archie a title or the designation of “His Royal Highness” before he was born.
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Although Prince Harry and Meghan have distanced themselves from royal traditions for the past two years, Meghan told Oprah that she was open to a title for her son if it provided him with security. But they could also opt out of having Archie and Lilibet inherit the titles altogether, following the footsteps of Princess Anne, Queen Elizabeth II’s daughter, who declined titling her children in an effort to make their lives easier.
Last year, Meghan spoke candidly about her and her husband’s frustration over the lack of police protection that their children received. Extended members of the royal family do not receive funding for security protection, as part of an effort to limit taxpayer spending on royals, and having the title of “prince” and “princess” does not necessarily guarantee taxpayer-funded security.
Meghan theorized last year that the decision not to provide Archie with a title after his birth was because of his mixed race. She said that the title discussion began around the time that members of the Royal Family were expressing concern about how dark Archie’s skin might be. (After the interview, Queen Elizabeth II issued a statement that read: “The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning. While some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately.”) At the time, Winfrey asked Meghan in the interview if her son receiving a title was important to her.
“If it meant he was going to be safe, then of course,” Meghan said.
As King Charles III’s second-born son, Prince Harry and Meghan are unlikely to have their titles changed, likely remaining the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. The couple resigned from their royal duties in 2020 in response to the intense pressure and media scrutiny that they said they faced. They stopped using their HRH designations when they resigned.
Other Royal Family members got new titles this week. Prince William, now next in line to be King, was bestowed as Prince of Wales, the title traditionally given to their heir apparent. His wife Catherine, better known as Kate, became the first Princess of Wales in 25 years. Camilla, now the Queen Consort, opted out of using the title when she married Charles out of respect for the late Princess Diana.