The world is buzzing now that Kensington Palace announced Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are expecting a child in spring 2019. But even as seventh in line for the British throne, the new baby won’t be a prince or a princess, thanks to a hundred-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 child—would be Lord or Lady Mountbatten-Windsor, rather than a prince or princess, and they don’t get the HRH title of a “royal highness.” Find out the difference between a princess and a duchess.
So why are 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 letter giving the Prince or Princess title to any of William’s children. And that means there’s still hope for Meghan and Harry! If they want to give their kids titles, that is.
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 decides not to extend the HRH title, it might not be a bad thing after all. Learn about 14 rules Meghan Markle will need to follow while she’s pregnant.