Prince Harry and Meghan Markle may reject a royal title for their baby, eschewing centuries of tradition but following a precedent set by one of Harry’s Windsor cousins, who says she’s glad she never had the burden of a royal title.
As Town & Country Magazine reports, royal watcher Omid Scobie thinks that Baby Sussex, as Meghan and Harry’s expected baby is being called these days, may go through life not burdened with a royal title.
“We’ve heard from several sources on both sides that the couple really hopes to forgo the formality of royal titles.”
That wouldn’t be unprecedented in the Windsor family — Harry’s cousin, Zara Tindall, also grew up without a royal title, and she’s reportedly glad she dodged that bullet. Zara is considerably further from the throne than are Harry and his expected son or daughter, so the fact that she grew up without a title may be slightly less unusual than the idea of Baby Sussex growing up without one.
Titles And Styles And All That
Royal titles and royal “styles” — slightly different from a title but of somewhat equal importance — are handed down according to complicated rules pieced together over the centuries. Explaining them here would take hundreds of pages and may not be too interesting to everyone, hence the simplified explanation that follows below.
Titles are leftovers from England’s days as a feudal society and were originally intended to delineate the amount of power (and prestige and wealth) held by whoever holds them, according to Mental Floss — Baron of This, Earl of That, and so on. Styles are phrases that depict either how you’re referred to/addressed (“Her/Your Royal Highness”) or your accomplishments or ceremonial offices you hold (“Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith”).
The closer you are to the throne, the more titles and more styles you have, and the more “important” they are. Queen Elizabeth, for example, has a list of titles and styles that runs to a few pages. Her son, Prince Charles, has a shorter list, but still an impressive one — and of course, when he assumes the throne as King, the list will grow.
Queen Elizabeth II attends Newbury racecourse to watch 3 of her race horses. pic.twitter.com/zsrphAziRJ
— Steve Parsons (@parsnippo) April 13, 2019
You may have figured out by now that titles and styles are essentially words on paper these days, considering that the monarchy has no real power and that barons and earls and such haven’t had any real power either for centuries.
Regardless, within the mini-universe that is the British monarchy and aristocracy, such things are of great importance, even though to the rest of us they’re just words on paper. For example, when Princess Diana and Prince Charles divorced, each side’s attorneys took great care to hammer out the details of which titles and styles she would retain and which she would give up.
What Does It Mean For Baby Sussex?
Everything and nothing.
In theory, the child of the second son of the future king should have at least a title or two, and a line or so of styles. If Baby Sussex is a boy, and if his parents don’t refuse the title, he’ll be Earl of Dumbarton, at the very least. If it’s a girl, she’ll likely just be Lady, followed by her name.
But if his or her parents refuse the title, the baby will almost certainly be known by his or name, and nothing more. Still, it simply might not do to deny him or her a title, and such a denial may be met with shock and bewilderment across the realm. When Charles becomes king, he may bestow upon his grandson or granddaughter a list of titles and styles, whether Harry and Meghan like it or not.