Why Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Kids Won’t Be Princes or Princesses
Prince Harry has already admitted that he’s “longed for kids,” and with his marriage to Meghan Markle this spring, the possibility of more royal babies is worth speculating. The only hitch: The couple’s future children won’t necessarily become His or Her Royal Highnesses.
To start, bettors already believe that Prince Harry and his bride will take on the roles of Duke and Duchess of Sussex upon saying “I do.” The Queen traditionally hands out new titles on wedding days — like Prince William and Kate Middleton becoming the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge — and this one should be no exception. Harry’s also said to prefer Sussex over the other available dukedoms, Albany and Clarence. Without the monarch’s intervention, Meghan Markle would simply become Her Royal Highness, Princess Henry of Wales — not Harry, mind you, but with the feminized styling of her husband’s official name. The awarding of the duchy will make her sound much more prestigious, even if she’s not a princess persay. (Princesses only descend from royal blood, which is why it’s not “Princess Kate” or technically even “Princess Diana.”)
Even with their fancy-sounding addresses, the couple’s potential children won’t get the same treatment according to law and custom right now. If Harry and Meghan decided on the names Andrew and Alice, for example, their future kids would be called Lord Andrew Mountbatten-Windsor and Lady Alice Mountbatten-Windsor. The reason behind the slightly disappointing stylings stems from the Letters Patent issued by King George V in 1917. The decree stated:
THE GRANDCHILDREN OF THE SONS OF ANY SUCH SOVEREIGN IN THE DIRECT MALE LINE (SAVE ONLY THE ELDEST LIVING SON OF THE ELDEST SON OF THE PRINCE OF WALES) SHALL HAVE AND ENJOY IN ALL OCCASIONS THE STYLE AND TITLE ENJOYED BY THE CHILDREN OF DUKES OF THESE OUR REALMS.
Translation: The great-grandchildren through the male line of the reigning sovereign would not receive HRHs, with the exception of the oldest grandson of the Prince of Wales, a.k.a Prince George. Everyone else would take the surname Mountbatten-Windsor, as fans of The Crown will remember the controversial hyphenation chosen by the Queen in 1960 for her descendants. Children born by daughters — like Princess Anne’s kids Peter and Zara Phillips — would get no title at all.
The Queen did step in before Princess Charlotte was born to give her and any future siblings the same stylings afforded to George. While she could make the same exception for Prince Harry’s children, she may not. First of all, when the Queen passes away, those kids would technically then become princes and princesses as the grandchildren of the new sovereign, Prince Charles. That said, there’s also talk of Prince Charles trying to “slim down” the monarchy with only immediate members receiving royal status and financial support. As king, Prince Charles could also issue a new Letters Patent changing the rules altogether, although it’s unlikely he would do this to his future grandchildren. Most importantly, Prince Harry or Meghan Markle may not want their children to become HRHs. For example, Prince Edward, the Queen’s grandson, and Sophie Rhys-Jones decided with the monarch in 1999 that their kids would not receive those stylings even though they were entitled to them. The couple attributed this to a “clear personal wish … appropriate to the likely future circumstances of their children.” With Prince Harry soon to be sixth in line to the throne after the new royal baby, he may also like the idea of a more subdued role for his children.
While there’s plenty of reasons for the reigning monarch to decide one way or the other, one thing’s for certain: As of right now, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s babies won’t be HRHs. That doesn’t mean that wouldn’t be extraordinarily cute though.