Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are officially going to be parents! Their royal baby is due in spring 2019, but what will his or her official title be? The child won't necessarily have the same title as his or her cousins, Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis. We break it down below.
Duke or Duchess?
On their royal wedding day, Prince Harry was given the official title His Royal Highness The Duke of Sussex, Earl of Dumbarton and Baron Kilkeel, and Meghan Markle became Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex. However, not all of their future children may receive the same appellation.
Dukedoms can only be inherited by male heirs, People reports. If the couple doesn't have sons, their title could "die out" (or be transferred to a distant male relative, according to PopSugar). Meanwhile, the title of "Duchess" can't be inherited by their daughters; it can only be received by marriage.
That precedent is the same reason why Harry and Meghan earned the Sussex title to begin with. The last Duke of Sussex was Prince Augustus Frederik, King George's ninth child, who lived from 1773-1843. His marriage to Lady Augusta Murray was annulled, so even their children didn't inherit the Duke's title, according to Harper's BAZAAR UK. Since the title Duke of Sussex was one of the few "available," the Queen bestowed it on Harry.
"A Prince of the Royal Blood is usually created a duke either shortly after coming of age or upon his marriage," according to etiquette experts at Debrett's. That explains why Prince Harry and Prince William officially became "Dukes" on their wedding days.
Prince or Princess?
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex's child won't be a prince or princess. A Letters Patent passed by King George V in 1917 reads:
"...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."
That means the Queen's great-grandchildren would not be Royal Highnesses (AKA princes or princesses); and only the oldest son of the oldest son of the Prince of Wales (in this case, Prince George, the oldest son of Prince William, who is the oldest son of Prince Charles) would be called "prince."
The rest of the great-grandchildren are understood to have the title Lady or Lord, with the surname Mountbatten-Windsor, The Independent reports. That means Harry and Meghan's kids would be Lady [name] Mountbatten-Windsor or Lord [name] Mountbatten-Windsor.
But that could change with some help from the Queen.
Will the sovereign step in?
The monarch previously changed the law to ensure that Prince George's younger siblings would have the same titles as him. That's why Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis have their titles.
In 2012, when Kate Middleton was pregnant with her first child, the Queen issued a Letters Patent that declared "all the children of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales should have and enjoy the style, title and attribute of royal highness with the titular dignity of Prince or Princess prefixed to their Christian names or with such other titles of honoor," according to The Independent.
Will she issue a similar change ahead of the arrival of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's baby? In July, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg was presented with a case challenging how only male heirs can inherit a dukedom, according to The Times of London. It could possibly overturn the precedent so that female heirs would also be able to inherit the duchess title, and not just receive it through marriage.
The Queen hasn't publicly said anything about the case, but we wonder if it'll influence her in any way.