- The children of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle do not automatically receive royal titles and will not automatically be called His or Her "Royal Highness."
- They will most likely have a title such as Earl or Lady, though that has yet to be confirmed.
- Prince Harry and the Duchess of Sussex may be following the example set by his aunt, Princess Anne, whose children Zara Tindall and Peter Phillips do not have royal titles.
For those of us outside the palace walls, it's hard to imagine turning down a royal title. But Prince Harry and his wife, the Duchess of Sussex, might have done just that for their first child.
As things currently stand, the baby, who is set to arrive imminently, will not receive a royal title, and therefore he or she will not be a prince or a princess and his or her name will not be styled as his or her royal highness.
According to King George V’s 1917 letters patent, the oldest son of the Prince of Wales’s oldest son (so Prince George) is entitled to be styled His Royal Highness and a prince. The other grandchildren of the Prince of Wales are not.
But in December of 2012, the Queen issued a new letters patent, which declared that all of William and Kate's children, not just Prince George, would hold the title of HRH and would be styled as princes and princesses.
"The Queen has been pleased by Letters Patent under the Great Seal of the Realm dated 31 December 2012 to declare that all the children of the eldest son of The Prince of Wales should have and enjoy the style, title and attribute of Royal Highness with the titular dignity of Prince or Princess prefixed to their Christian names or with such other titles of honour," reads the official statement.
That ruling does not apply to Prince Harry's children, and so if the baby is a boy, he will likely be styled as the Earl of Dumbarton, and if it's a girl, she will likely be styled as a Lady similar to the way Prince Edward's daughter Lady Louise's title is currently styled.
It's possible the Queen could make a new announcement for Prince Harry's child, but given that she issued the 2012 letters patent in December, five months before Princess Charlotte's birth, it's unlikely she would have waited this long to issue a new ruling.
"For Harry's children to be HRH, the Queen would have to issue a new letters patent, and she hasn't, so we're pretty sure that they're not going to be HRH." Emily Andrews, a royal reporter and the co-host of the royal-related podcast "On Heir," said in a recent episode.
Her co-host Omid Scobie, who is also a royal correspondent, elaborated.
"We've heard from several sources on both sides that the couple really hopes to forgo the formality of royal titles," he said. It's unclear if this "hope" influenced the Queen's decision not to issue a new letters patent, or if that was the plan all along.
In this regard they may be following in the footsteps of Princess Anne's children, Peter Phillips and Zara Tindall. As titles in the United Kingdom pass through the male line, and their father, Captain Mark Phillips did not have a title, neither did they.
But they didn't see it as a loss; in fact, Tindall has said she feels "very lucky" to have grown up in a slightly more normal fashion.
“My parents didn’t give us titles, so we’ve been able to have a slightly more normal upbringing," Tindall previously said. "As soon as you’ve got a title, it’s very difficult to shed it. My brother and I have been very lucky like that, being able to find our own way in life really and just get on with it."
According to the BBC, Zara's parents "are said to have rejected an offer from the Queen of titles which would have enabled their children to be born into the peerage," though royal correspondent Victoria Arbiter recently disputed this fact via Twitter.
Either way, Harry and Meghan reportedly want that same sense of normalcy for their child. "[Forgoing titles is] in line with the kind of life the couple want for their children, which is centered around normality," Scobie said on "On Heir." "I think, bringing them up with titles when they don't necessarily have a role to be an heir almost doesn't make any sense."
But even if the baby does not receive a royal title upon birth, there's a chance things could change down the line, when Prince Charles becomes king. But we'll just have to wait and see.
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