Why isn’t Prince Harry and Meghan’s son Archie a prince? Does it have anything to do with race?
Meghan looks at the camera and smiles while holding Baby Archie. Prince Harry leans towards them, but is facing away from shot.
Meghan has raised concerns over the fact her son is not a prince.
One of the most explosive claims Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex made in their widely publicised interview this week was that their son was denied the title of prince — something Meghan suggested could be due to her biracial heritage.
In the interview with US television host Oprah Winfrey, the duchess said while she was pregnant the royal family “were saying they didn’t want him to be a prince … which would be different from protocol”.
She said that decision would see “the first member of colour in this family not being titled in the same way that other grandchildren would be”.
But does that hold water? This is how royal titles like prince and princess are actually given out.
Who gets to be a prince?
King George V set the current rules for who gets to be a prince or princess.(US Library Of Congress: George Grantham Bain Collection)
If Archie Mountbatten-Windsor grows up to bemoan his lack of princely status, he may have his great-great-great-grandfather to blame.
A decree issued by King George V — the Queen’s grandfather — in 1917 limits the titles of prince and princess to the children of the monarch, children of the monarch’s sons and “the eldest living son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales”.
Bob Morris from the Constitution Unit at University College London said the rule was introduced to trim the increasingly unwieldy number of royal titles.
“Queen Victoria had nine children who were all princes and princesses, and then they had children and so forth, and George V took the view … that something needed to be done to tidy up the situation,” he said.
The queen has the power to change the rules, and in 2012 she decreed that all the children of Prince William and his wife, Catherine, not just the eldest living son, would be princes and princesses.
That means that of the Queen’s nine great-grandchildren, six of them — including Archie — are not princes or princesses.
The three great-grandchildren that do hold royal titles are Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, who are third, fourth and fifth in line to the throne respectively — ahead of Prince Harry and Archie.
Will Archie ever be a prince?
Under the George V declaration, Archie is not a prince at birth but will become one when Prince Charles becomes king, as he will then be the son of a child of the monarch.
But Meghan said she believed that would not be the case, telling Oprah “they want to change the convention for Archie”.
Read more about Meghan Markle’s life in the royal spotlight:
A trip to Australia was the moment Harry and Meghan’s relationship with the royals worsened
Meghan tells Oprah she was ‘silenced’ by the monarchy. Here’s how she found her voice
It is unclear what she was referring to, but Dr Morris said Prince Charles has indicated that “he favours a smaller royal family” when he takes the throne.
As king, Charles would have the power to issue decrees to extend or reduce the number of titles on offer.
Archie was eligible for a “courtesy title” at birth, such as Lord Archie Mountbatten-Windsor. At the time, it was reported that Harry and Meghan had chosen not to give him a title.
But the duchess told Oprah, “it was not our decision to make”.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex also announced this week they are expecting a baby girl, though she will also not automatically become a princess.
What impact does this have on Archie’s security?
In the interview, Meghan expressed concern that without a title, Archie “wasn’t going to receive security”.
But a royal title such as prince or princess does not automatically entitle a person security protection.
Full-time working royals — including the Duke and Duchess of Sussex before they moved to North America last year — receive taxpayer-funded police bodyguards.
But royals who have jobs outside the family, such as Prince Andrew’s daughters Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, do not.
Buckingham Palace has not responded to specific allegations in the interview.
In a statement attributed to the Queen, it said “the issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning”.
“While some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately,” the Queen said.