The world’s most eligible bachelor may be off the market, at least for the time being. Prince Harry and Suits actress Meghan Markle have been dating since last October, sparking rumors that the fifth in line to the throne may have found “The One.” But although the name “Princess Meghan” has a remarkable ring to it for royal watchers that are hoping the Prince will finally marry, peerage experts say Meghan Markle will not be dubbed a princess if she walks down the aisle to greet Prince Harry.
In the monarchy, there is a rule for everything. Royal titles are bestowed according to peerage, a process that uses the “peers of the realm” of the monarchy, and are determined by birth. This Insider reports that according to peerage rules, Meghan Markle would become a general “princess by marriage” but she would not hold the official princess title.
The title of “princess” is bestowed on those born into royal blood. Title or otherwise, the court of public opinion in royal watchers find Meghan Markle, United Nations activist, writer, and gorgeous extraordinaire to be the perfect fit for the long-single Prince Harry.
The next big question on the list for royal watchers is, will there be another royal wedding very soon? Rumors are already floating that Meghan Markle is set to move into Kensington Palace with Prince Harry. But Meghan Markle has yet to meet Queen Elizabeth II, a big hurdle that will be a defining moment in her relationship with Prince Harry.
Although born in California, Meghan Markle is based in Toronto filming “Suits” and spends a lot of time in Canada, a member of the Commonwealth, for filming and work. This could please the Queen. Even so, Meghan Markle is divorced and this could be problematic when it comes to titles and acceptance by the Queen.
Despite this, although Meghan hasn’t met the Queen formally, US Weekly reports that Queen Elizabeth II is aware of the relationship, and already approves. She just wants to see her grandson Prince Harry happy and is reportedly “delighted he is in a loving relationship.”
To even have acknowledgement from the Queen herself, is a step in the right direction for Prince Harry, and not one that many of his ladies before have had the luck to enjoy. All of this speculation is leading many to expect a royal wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle down the road.
But marrying Prince Harry wouldn’t make Meghan an official princess. The Prince’s official title is “His Royal Highness Prince Harry of Wales.” But, if Prince Harry marries a commoner as his brother did, his wife would not get an official title of princess. Kate Middleton is not Princess Kate, nor would Meghan Markle become Princess Meghan were she and the prince to wed.
When the Prince’s wed, they are often gifted land by Queen Elizabeth II, and if this happens, they would receive a noble title of peerage. The ranks of peerage from highest rank to lowest are as follows: duke, marquess, earl, viscount, baron. Prince William was given peerage and became the Duke of Cambridge upon marrying Kate Middleton, and she became the Duchess of Cambridge.
Prince Harry is expected to follow suit and receive a title under peerage as well upon marrying. Peerage experts suspect he will become the Duke of Sussex, and his wife would become the Duchess of Sussex. The Duke of Sussex title has been available since 1843, but the titles for Duke of Buckingham and Clarence are also available.
To become a duke under peerage is a sworn ceremony where the recipients confirm by oath their loyalty to the crown, and are given land or money in return. Only male heirs are able to achieve this status. Peerage titles today are more social status, but once held strong political power, and in some cases today still can.
Forbes Magazine explains the monarchy rules on titles a little further, noting that the only current living royal that can use the princess title before their first name is Princess Charlotte, daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, or, Prince William and Kate Middleton.
But because Kate Middleton married a prince, she also holds the title Her Royal Highness Princess William. The Princess of Wales, also known as Lady Di, experienced similar title issues.
Prince Charles, son of Queen Elizabeth II is a prince twice, by being born to Queen Elizabeth II and being the first in line to the throne. He also was invested as the Prince of Wales in 1969, which under the legalities of the British Crown is a principality and not a peerage. As such, Diana became officially titled as Diana, Princess of Wales when she married Prince Charles.
She was known colloquially, but not legally, as Princess Diana, or Princess Di. When Prince Charles becomes King, Prince William as the second in line to the throne will inherit his title, Prince of Wales. Then, Kate Middleton will become officially and legally, Catherine Princess of Wales. Upon Prince William’s coronation, Kate Middleton will then be titled The Queen Consort.
Unless there is a rash of tragedy in the royal family, Prince Harry as the fifth in line to the throne is not expected to go any further up the line of succession beyond a peerage title as a duke, should he marry. He would not lose his title of His Royal Highness Prince Harry should that be the case. Thus, Meghan Markle would only become an official titled princess if Prince Harry is not given a peerage rank, which is not expected at this time.
[Featured Image by Evan Agostini/AP Images]