Why Meghan Markle and Prince Harry won't have full custody of their baby

It’s the news royal watchers have been waiting for! On Monday morning, Kensington Palace announced that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are expecting their first child in the spring of 2019.

An ancient law says the Duke and Duchess of Sussex won’t have full legal custody of their baby.  (Photo via Getty Images)

We already know that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s baby won’t be a prince or princess. Despite being seventh in line for the throne, bumping Prince Andrew to eighth, the infant won’t have the official title.

But even more odd is an ancient rule that means Prince Harry and Markle won’t have full, legal custody of their baby once he or she is born. Who will? According to the law, it’s Queen Elizabeth II.

The law, which was introduced by King George in 1717, is called “The Grand Opinion for the Prerogative Concerning the Royal Family” and was inspired by a family feud.

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“George I did not get along with his son, the future George II,” royal expert Marlene Koenig told The Independent.

“I believe it came about when the Prince of Wales [George II] did not want to have the godparent for his son that his father wanted – so George I got Parliament to come up with something.”

A 1772 register better explains it.

They said that the opinion of 10 judges, in the year 1717, was a confirmation of the legality of this prerogative, which admitted the King’s right to the care of the marriage and education of the children of the royal family; and that the late opinion acknowledges, that the King had the care of the royal children and grandchildren, and the presumptive heir to the crown…” reads the register. 

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In 1994, the law was challenged when Princess Diana separated from Prince Charles and wanted to take both Princes William and Harry to Australia to live with her. She wasn’t permitted due to the custody law.

Of course, this rule applies to all royals — so Will and Kate technically don’t have full custody of George, Charlotte or Louis, either.  Despite having full, legal custody, Koenig doesn’t think the Queen would ever exercise her power with this ruling.

“I would doubt that the Queen would interfere. [It’s] more of a formality,” she said.

“I think the Queen has let her children raise their kids.”

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