Chances are that you know a few people in life who don’t think their own titles are that important. It could be a local teacher who encourages students to call him by his first name, for example, or perhaps a family doctor who never insists that you call him “doctor.”
In the Royal Family, though, titles are everything, and Harry and Meghan have been fighting for their kids to get the appropriate titles even before they were born. Now, it seems they have been successful: Archie is now “Prince Archie,” and Lilibet is now “Princess Lilibet.”
How did this sudden change happen, though? What does it mean for the future or these royal children, and does this mean Harry and Meghan have mended fences with the Royal Family? Keep reading to discover the answers!
What are the royal rules for these titles?
While the Royal Family is very big on rules and protocol, you may be surprised to learn that the rules dictating whether Harry and Meghan’s children could get titles are barely a century old. As reported by Tatler, King George V established a rule that the title “His Royal Highness” (or “Her Royal Highness”) would apply to “only the monarch, the monarch’s children and grandchildren, and the monarch’s eldest-born’s first grandson.”
Because of these rules, Prince William and Prince Harry have always had their titles because they were grandchildren of the previous monarch, Queen Elizabeth. Due to that last rule, Prince George always had his own title because he was the first grandson of the monarch’s eldest-born (then Prince Charles).
An exception to the rule: was the Queen playing favorites?
Under those original rules, George would be the only of William and Kate’s children to have the fancy “prince” title. However, William and Kate’s other children (Charlotte and Louis) now have, respectively, the titles of “princess” and “prince.” The only reason they have those titles, though, is because Queen Elizabeth personally intervened.
As Hello! Magazine reports, the Queen effectively changed the law via a new Letters Patent in 2013, before William and Kate’s first child was born. One of the changes she made ensured that the eldest born could rule as monarch regardless of gender (so if George had been a girl, she would still be destined for the throne). Additionally, the Queen ensured that all of William and Kate’s kids would get “prince” and “princess titles” as needed.
It was a touching gesture at the time, though it led to speculation that the Queen was playing favorites with her grandchildren. That seemed especially clear once Harry and Meghan made public their ongoing struggles to secure such titles for their own children.
The previous controversy over Archie and Lilibet’s titles
From the outside looking in, Archie and Lilibet getting their royal titles seems like a bit of a no-brainer. After all, Queen Elizabeth went out of her way to secure titles for all of Prince William’s children. It stood to reason that she might offer the same consideration to Prince Harry’s children.
However, this was not the case. As reported by The Mercury News, Meghan Markle claimed in her and Harry’s bombshell 2021 interview with Oprah Winfrey that her children may not receive these titles and that this controversial call “was not our decision.” This was the same interview where she claimed that an unnamed senior royal was concerned about unborn Archie’s skin color, and she was understandably upset about the “idea of the first member of color in this family not being titled in the same way that other grandchildren would be.”
Why are Archie and Lilibet now eligible for these royal titles?
Despite all the previous drama over Harry and Meghan’s children receiving royal titles, the two of them ended up with the outcome they had been dreaming of. In March of this year, the two rebellious royals announced that their children would be using royal titles, and the world may now officially address them as Prince Archie and Princess Charlotte.
Considering the previous controversy over whether the kids would even get titles, though, you might be asking yourself what changed to make this possible. While we don’t doubt there were some backdoor negotiations with the rest of the Royal Family regarding Archie and Lilibet getting titles, it seems like the main thing that paved the way for this change was, surprisingly enough, the death of Queen Elizabeth!
Though it took him a hot minute to get officially coronated, King Charles became the new monarch as soon as Queen Elizabeth died. Now, the previous rules established by King George V officially apply to Harry and Meghan’s children. Each of those two kids now meets George’s qualifications that the titles be given to “the monarch’s children and grandchildren” as the grandchildren of King Charles. However, only time will tell whether this change in the status of the children’s titles will cool the frosty relationship between Harry and Charles.