Update, 1/18: The Queen and Buckingham Palace released statements updating the public on the details of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's exit from royal duties. According to Buckingham Palace's statement, "the Sussexes will not use their HRH titles as they are no longer working members of the Royal Family."
Several royal correspondents took to Twitter to clarify what this means for Harry and Meghan's titles going forward.
"Harry will remain a prince and retain his HRH, but not use the title," Rebecca English wrote.
In its statement, Buckingham Palace also explained that stepping back from royal duties will include official military appointments.
"So to clarify, Harry will no longer be Captain General of Marines, Hon Air Commandant or Commodore-in-chief nor Youth Amabassdor. He & Meghan will keep Pres & VP of @queenscomtrust plus Sentebale, Invictus etc & M’s patronages she took on last year," Emily Andrews added.
Update, 1/14: As mentioned below, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle show no sign of relinquishing their titles, but the Queen retains the ability to strip them of the "Duke and Duchess of Sussex" titles, should she see fit. And in her statement Monday, she may have signaled that she's considering it: The Queen's statement, which is pretty long, does not refer to either Meghan or Harry by the titles she's bestowed on them. Instead, she calls them "Meghan and Harry," or "my grandson and his family," which is telling. In all previous statements from the royal family, the duo have been referred to using their official titles.
The Queen's statement notes that a "transition period" is coming up next, so it'll probably be within that period that we'll find out conclusively whether they'll keep their titles—or if they'll lose them, or some part of them. For example, Diana was known as "Princess of Wales" after her divorce, but was no longer considered "Her Royal Highness."
Original post: What I wouldn't give to be a fly on the wall of Buckingham Palace today! A recap: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle effectively called it quits with the royal family, announcing that they were stepping back from their duties, planning to become financially independent, and moving part-time to North America. The Queen's office hit back, saying that the rest of the family are "disappointed" and that there is still plenty to be worked out. Like: Will Meghan and Harry remain the Duchess and Duke of Sussex?
Unless the royal family demands it—which I'm going to guess is unlikely, because there's already been way too much drama of late—Harry and Meghan are not renouncing their titles. Their post-announcement revamped website outlines how and why they're moving away from the royal family, and also consistently refers to them as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Like this: "In 2020, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have made the choice to transition into a new working model."
The Q&A section also notes: "Do any other members of the Royal Family hold a title and earn an income?...Yes, there is precedent for this structure and applies to other current members of the Royal Family who support the monarch and also have full time jobs external to their commitment to the monarchy."
Technically, the Queen has the authority to strip Meghan and Harry of their titles, and you better believe that people on Twitter are suggesting that she at least thinks about it:
Love everyone complaining that Meghan and Harry aren't renouncing their titles like we all don't continue to call her a princess even though it's factually innacurate.January 8, 2020
At least for now, Meghan and Harry are retaining their titles. Archie, however, does not have a title, which felt deliberate even at the time and makes more sense now; unlike Kate Middleton and Prince William's children, who all have the title Prince or Princess, Archie's parents elected to not give him the title "Earl of Dumbarton." Archie's last name is certainly royal—he is Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor—but he does not have an official title like both his parents do. It's safe to assume that if Harry and Meghan have another child, he or she will also not hold a title.
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Jenny is the Digital Director at Marie Claire. Originally from London, she moved to New York in 2012 to attend the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and never left. Prior to Marie Claire, she spent five years at Bustle building out its news and politics coverage. She loves, in order: her dog, goldfish crackers, and arguing about why umbrellas are fundamentally useless. Her first novel, EVERYONE WHO CAN FORGIVE ME IS DEAD, will be published by Minotaur Books on February 6, 2024.
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