With Prince Harry bending the rules of the Royal Family this past week in order to go visit his girlfriend, Meghan Markle in Toronto, rumours are swirling that Harry is serious about popping the question.
So should a royal wedding be coming in the not too distant future (and after 2016 the world really could use something to look forward to!), what would Miss Markle’s title be?
Should Prince Harry not be presented with a peerage, Miss Markle would become HRH Princess Henry of Wales. In the United Kingdom, the wife automatically takes on her husband’s title. She would not be Princess Meghan, just like Catherine is not Princess Catherine and Diana was never Princess Diana. To have the Princess title before your name they would have to have been born into the family, such as Princess Charlotte or Princess Beatrice.
According to Royal Historian Marlene Koenig of the blog Royal Musings, Prince Harry will most likely receive a peerage, saying: “Most likely, he will be created a Duke. Sussex is available so she [Meghan Markle] would be HRH the Duchess of Sussex. Her rank would be a princess by marriage of the United Kingdom, Great Britain and Northern Ireland.”
The last person to hold the title of Duke of Sussex was Prince Augustus Frederick, the sixth son of King George III on 27 November 1801. He died on 21 April 1843, the title dying with him. Since then no one has held the title. Some thought Prince William would be given the title upon his marriage to Catherine but instead was honoured with the Duke of Cambridge. Many have since assumed that Sussex will be kept for Harry now.
Koeing went on to say: “If Harry marries during Granny’s lifetime, his kids will not be royal until his father is king due to 1917 Letters Patent.”
The letters dated 30 November 1917 by George V state: “The children of any Sovereign of these Realms and the children of the sons of any such Sovereign and the eldest living son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales shall have and at all times hold and enjoy the style, title or attribute of Royal Highness with their titular dignity of Prince or Princess prefixed to their respective Christian names or with their other titles of honour”.
It also said that the “grandchildren of the sons of any such Sovereign in the direct male line … shall have and enjoy in all occasions the style and title enjoyed by the children of Dukes of these Our Realms”.
In not so technical English, any children who are further than the grandchildren of the Sovereign, except those who did so under unrevoked letters patent would not hold the HRH title (the letter patent May 1898 states that the Crown granted the children of the eldest son of any Prince of Wales the style of Royal Highness). The 1917 Letters Patent superseded the 1898 LP. That is why Prince George and Princess Charlotte hold the HRH title and Harry’s hypothetical children would not until Prince Charles is king.
Before George was born, Her Majesty had a new Letters Patent drawn up that would give the HRH Prince/Princess title to all of the children of Prince William. Had Charlotte been more first, she would have succeed her brother in-line to the throne but only would have had the title of Lady.