Queen Elizabeth II’s passing has set off a lot of big changes within the royal family, especially when it comes to titles and the royal line of succession. Prince Charles, heir to the throne, is now King Charles III, and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, is now the Queen Consort. The title changes have trickled down in Charles’ own lineage as well, with his eldest son Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton becoming Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and Cambridge, with the possibility of becoming the Prince and Princess of Wales if the King chooses to bestow the honor upon them.
So, what does that mean for Prince Harry, King Charles’ second child, and his wife, Meghan Markle? The couple became the Duke and Duchess of Sussex when they tied the knot in 2018, and when they stepped back as senior working members of the royal family, they lost the honor of being called His and Her Royal Highness, but remained duke and duchess.
With Charles’ ascension, it’s unlikely Harry and Meghan’s titles will change, but it’s possible that their kids could be upgraded to Prince Archie and Princess Lillibet. That marks a big change considering Archie, 3, and Lillibet, 1, weren’t born with royal titles to begin with.
This is due to a letters patent issued by King George V in 1917, which stated that only the children of the sovereign, the children of the sons of the sovereign, and the eldest living son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales could be princes and princesses. Archie and Lillibet didn’t fit into those descriptions during their great-grandmother Queen Elizabeth II’s reign. But with Charles on the throne, they qualify as “the children of sons of the soveriegn”—a. k. a. Harry’s kids. Changes could always be made by the sovereign, too. The Queen issued a Letters Patent in 2012 allowing all of William’s kids to have royal titles, not just Prince George. But the same wasn’t done for Archie.
When Archie was born in 2019, he could’ve received the courtesy title Earl of Dumbarton (one of Harry’s titles in Scotland), but it was said that Harry and Meghan decided to forgo that, as well as “His Royal Highness,” so that he could live a more private life. However, Meghan revealed that the decision was made for them by the Firm. “It was not our decision to make,” she said in her interview with Oprah Winfrey. As for why William’s kids were all made royal and not Harry’s, Meghan said, “I heard a lot of it through Harry…it was a decision they felt was appropriate.”
If the prince and princess title do become available to Archie and Lillibet, it could ultimately be Harry and Meghan’s decision to use them. Considering they have distanced themselves from royal duties and moved to California, it’s possible they’d turn it down. Other royals have also opted out of giving their children prince and princess titles when they became eligible, such as Princess Anne and Prince Edward when it came to their own kids.
Erica Gonzales is the Senior Culture Editor at ELLE.com, where she oversees coverage on TV, movies, music, books, and more. She was previously an editor at HarpersBAZAAR.com. There is a 75 percent chance she’s listening to Lorde right now.