Harry and Meghan’s children will eventually inherit ‘prince’ and ‘princess’ titles
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle welcomed their second child to the world on June 4. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex named their baby daughter Lilibet Diana Mountbatten-Windsor in honor of the child’s great-grandmother Queen Elizabeth and the late Princess Diana, her grandmother.
Despite being born into the British royal family, neither Lilibet nor her older brother, Archie, has the title of prince or princess right now. How is this possible when their father is a prince?
According to royal decree, only some of the great-grandchildren of the sovereign are eligible for prince and princess titles. But when their grandfather becomes the king, all the grandchildren will become princes and princesses. In short, it’s complicated!
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Earlier this year, Archie’s lack of a princely title became the subject of controversy as a result of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s bombshell primetime interview with Oprah Winfrey. Though there has been friction between the couple and the royal family since the they decided to step away from senior royal duties and move to the U.S., that’s not the reason behind Archie not being a prince and Lilibet not being a princess. (Also, Queen Elizabeth did give Archie the courtesy title of Earl of Dumbarton, but the new parents chose to not use it.)
A royal decree that goes back more than 100 years clearly states who gets to be a prince or princess. In the Letters Patent issued by King George V, Queen Elizabeth’s grandfather, in 1917, the king created a law that allowed the children of the king or queen to be a prince or princess, the children of the sons of the king or queen to be a prince or princess, and the eldest living son of the Prince of Wales to be a prince.
Queen Elizabeth updated the law with her own Letters Patent on Dec 31, 2012. In it, she declared “all the children of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales” are entitled to the royal title of prince or princess. Prince William is the eldest son of the current Prince of Wales, Charles, so her update paved the way for all of Prince William’s children — Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis — to have equal standing as princes and princesses.
Based on these rules, though, neither Archie nor Lilibet are eligible to be a prince or a princess, because their father is the second-eldest son of the Prince of Wales.
However, their status should change in the future. If Prince Charles becomes king, as is planned after Queen Elizabeth’s reign ends, all of his grandchildren would inherit the title of prince or princess, according to the decrees. When that happens, Harry and Meghan’s children will become Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet.