After the death of Elizabeth II, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s children, Archie and Lilibet, technically became prince and princess.
For the time being, they do not benefit from the title of Royal Highness.
King Charles III would be prepared to grant them on one specific condition.
Will Archie and Lilibeth one day have the title of Royal Highness? Nothing is less sure. On September 8, 2022, the very instant Elizabeth II left this world, her eldest son, Prince Charles of Wales, succeeded her as King Charles III. At the same time, several other members of the royal family changed their titles. Prince William and his wife, Kate Middleton, notably became Prince and Princess of Wales. As for the children of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, they have, as grandchildren of the sovereign in place, inherited the titles of prince and princess.
However, Archie and Lilibet Mountbatten-Windor were denied another title: that of Royal Highness. While the law established by King George V in 1917 states that “the children of the Sovereign’s male children” can benefit from the title, King Charles III himself decided that this would not be the case. He justified his decision by saying that Archie, Lilibet and their parents, Harry and Meghan, are no longer working members of the royal family. He also expressed his desire to form a less costly and therefore more restricted one, which justifies his granting the title of Royal Highness only to its most present members.
“Harry and Meghan must be respectful towards the institution”
Unsurprisingly, the new king’s decision did not please his son and daughter-in-law. According to the British tabloid The Sun, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were “furious” to learn that Archie and Lilibeth would not obtain the title of Royal Highness. And for good reason, it would have allowed the two children to benefit from the security services that their parents have been asking for since birth. In March 2021, during her shock interview with journalist Oprah Winfrey, the Duchess of Sussex notably confided the importance she attached to the future title of her son. “If being a prince means he will be safe, then of course that is important,” she said.
The Sussexes can be reassured, King Charles III could still change his mind. According to biographer Katie Nicholl, author of The New Royals, Prince Harry’s father would be willing to grant the title of Royal Highness to Archie and Lilibet on one condition: that Harry and Meghan undertake not to speak ill of the British Crown. “He’s going to insist that Harry and Meghan have to show respect to the institution, if they take the titles. It’s very important to him.” According to the journalist, “titles are important to Charles”, which is why he would refuse to give them away without anything in return.
So the message got through. If Harry and Meghan want to see their children benefit from the title of Royal Highness and the privileges that come with it, they will have to hold their ground and avoid the outpouring of feelings like those that occurred in March 2021, against Oprah Winfrey. Would King Charles III have found a way to gag the Sussexes?
Charles III © Agency