Well, it isn’t that simple.
Prince Henry Charles Albert David, better known as Prince Harry, is a Prince of the royal family because of his dad, Prince Charles. In the British aristocracy, the male sons take the title of their father if they don’t have a specific title. Prince Harry’s full title is His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales.
Harry has been using part of his title, Wales, as a surname; in the army, for example, he was known as Captain Henry Wales.
Traditionally the male members of the royal family are appointed a substantive title by the sovereign on their wedding day. They receive titles associated with England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. That is why, for example, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward, sons of Queen Elizabeth are also the Duke of York and the Earl of Essex. Prince William is also the Duke of Cambridge. Once they are appointed the title becomes the first title they will use.
But which title will Prince Harry have after the wedding and how will Meghan Markle be known?
The title, Duke of Sussex, is regarded as the most likely choice for the Prince. The Previous Duke of Sussex, Prince Augustus Frederick, was the son of King George III. Frederick married twice but both times the wedding was approved by the King and that meant that has never been a Duchess of Sussex. If this will be the title that the Queen will give to Harry, Meghan will be the first Duchess of Sussex.
Other titles in the list of suspended titles are the dukedoms of Clarence, Windsor, Connaught, Cumberland, Teviotdale and Albany but most of them have inauspicious histories that will probably rule them out.
The Dukedom of Clarence is connected to Shakespeare’s Richard III and to Queen Victoria’s great-uncle, Prince Albert Victor. The Duke had a scandalous life. In 1889, the London Police discovered a male brothel in Cleveland Street and the press was convinced that the Prince used to be a client. Voices about his mental health were in the press too. He’s probably most known for being linked to the Jack the Ripper conspiracy theory. According to followers of this theory, Jack the Ripper was the Queen’s doctor, Sir William Gull. Gull killed all the prostitutes that were present at a secret wedding, the wedding of the Duke of Clarence and a prostitute he falls in love with. The royal family had to hide the scandal and destroy any of the evidence of a Catholic wedding for the heir to the throne. This theory has since been disproved but still now has a huge success, is the main plot of the movie From Hell with Johnny Deep.
The Dukedom of Windsor was created for the former King Edward VIII who abdicated on December 11, 1936. The story of Edward and Wallis Simpson looks like the story of Harry and Meghan. Both are divorcees’ and American. The still fresh abdication and Nazi sympathizers of the former King are still fresh in the British mind though and that’s why the title will probably be ruled out.
The Dukedom of Connaught does not exist anymore or better is not suitable for the royal family because the title was related to a county in Ireland and is not part of the United Kingdom anymore.
The Dukedom of Albany is a Scottish title and probably will be a secondary title; traditionally every couple will be given a title in each country that forms the United Kingdom. Because the Prince is the son of the Prince of Wales, he will not have a specific title for Wales but will have a different title in Scotland and in Northern Ireland. Prince William, for example, is known as Earl of Strathearn in Scotland and Baron of Carrickfergus in Northern Ireland.
The dukedoms of Cumberland and Teviotdale used to be two different titles, the last Duke was Prince Ernest August, the eldest child and only son of George V King of Hannover. The title ceased to be used after the Titles Deprivation Act 1917, that act allowed the British family to deprived the enemies of the United Kingdom of British peerages during the first World War. The British royal family was closely related to most of the European royal family, particularly with German ones. The King of United Kingdom gave up all his foreigner titles and all the Germans with British titles lost them.
As you can see all the odds are for the Dukedom of Sussex, we will probably be calling Harry and Meghan the Duke and the Duchess of Sussex in few months time.
Since childhood, Breno, has always had two passions: history and books. A regular visitor of libraries and book shops, he grew up in a small community near to Turin.
Breno is now a historian and writer living in York, Great Britain. He mainly deals with Modern and Contemporary History. His main areas of research are the diplomatic, political and economic aspects of the Great War and the British Empire.