This Is Why Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Son Archie Didn’t Get a Royal Title

Archie isn't a prince—here's why that's causing controversy.

The world is buzzing after Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s candid interview with Oprah about their not-so-rosy experience as part of the royal family. In particular, they’ve made it clear that there was all sorts of unsavory drama surrounding their baby boy, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, even before he was born. Specifically, it’s raised the issues of his royal titles—or lack thereof. Even as seventh in line for the British throne, Archie isn’t a prince.

But there was already a precedent in place for Archie not to be a prince—at birth, at least—thanks to a 104-year-old rule.

In 1917, King George V issued a statement that “the grandchildren of the sons of any such Sovereign in the direct male line (save only the eldest living son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales) shall have and enjoy in all occasions the style and title enjoyed by the children of Dukes of these Our Realms.” Queen Elizabeth II is the current sovereign, so her children and grandchildren get royal titles. But her great-grandchildren—like Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s son—would be Lord or Lady Mountbatten-Windsor, rather than a prince, and he wouldn’t get the HRH style of a “royal highness.” In Archie’s case, his parents settled on the style of “Master.”

The controversy arises because Meghan expected that, when Prince Charles became king and Archie became the grandson, no longer the great-grandson, of the reigning monarch, he would have been able to assume the title of “prince.” But she learned that that would not be the case, saying that she “had been told that protocols would be changed.” This is why Meghan didn’t take photos after Archie’s birth, too.

Why were Prince William and Kate Middleton’s kids lucky enough to get those royal titles? Because the queen said so, of course.

As a direct heir to the throne, George would have been a prince no matter what—but Charlotte and Louis wouldn’t have. When Kate was pregnant, Queen Elizabeth issued a letters patent giving the Prince or Princess title to any of William’s children. The prevailing reason for this is that they’re the children of the future monarch. But from Meghan’s perspective, her son “[was] not being titled in the same way that other grandchildren would be.”

Some of the queen’s grandchildren, such as Lady Louise Windsor and James, Viscount Severn, could have been given royal titles when they were born, but their parents asked the queen not to so that they could live more “normal” lives. So if Queen Elizabeth decided not to extend the HRH title, it might not be a bad thing after all—and, of course, Meghan and Harry have chosen to step back from royal duties altogether. If all these titles confuse you, here’s the line of succession to the British throne.

Sources:

  • The Independent“Prince Harry and Meghan Markle wedding: Why their children won’t be princes or princesses”
  • The Telegraph: “Royal baby: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are expecting their first child in the spring”
  • The Guardian“Was Meghan’s son Archie denied the title ‘prince’ because he’s mixed race?”
  • Page Six: “Archie not snubbed of royal title by palace despite Meghan Markle’s claim”

Marissa Laliberte
Marissa Laliberte-Simonian is a London-based associate editor with the global promotions team at WebMD’s Medscape.com and was previously a staff writer for Reader's Digest. Her work has also appeared in Business Insider, Parents magazine, CreakyJoints, and the Baltimore Sun. You can find her on Instagram @marissasimonian.