Why Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's Baby Is Unlikely to Be a Prince or Princess

Stephanie Petit
Why Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's Baby Is Unlikely to Be a Prince or Princess

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle‘s baby will be seventh in the line of succession to the British throne, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll be a prince or princess — or even receive a royal title.

The royal parents-to-be were named the Duke and Duchess of Sussex on their wedding day, and it is traditional for the eldest son of a duke to eventually inherit his father’s title. If their baby is a boy, he could be known by the title Earl of Dumbarton, the secondary Sussex title, before inheriting the dukedom, according to chairman of Burke’s Peerage William Bortrick.

Any younger sons will be known as Lord (His Name) Windsor, while daughters will be called Lady (Her Name) Windsor.

However, Queen Elizabeth has the ability to go a different route and give Meghan and Harry’s child a similar title to their cousins — the three children of Prince William and Kate MiddletonPrince George, 5, Princess Charlotte, 3, and Prince Louis, 11 months. In that case, according to Bortrick, Harry’s sons will be styled as His Royal Highness Prince (His Name) of Sussex, while daughters will be known as Her Royal Highness Princess (Her Name) of Sussex.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry | MARC GIDDINGS/AFP/Getty

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Since a dukedom can only be inherited by a male heir, the title will die out if Meghan and Harry don’t have any sons. Meghan has said in the past that both she and Harry are feminists, and her “About” page on the royal family website underscores the importance of her being a champion of female empowerment. “I am proud to be a woman and a feminist,” she is quoted on the site.

Changes regarding male and female heirs have been made before. Thanks to the Succession to the Crown Act 2013, birth order determines who will become the next king or queen of the U.K., regardless of gender. Had it not been in place, Princess Charlotte would have lost her spot to baby brother, Prince Louis. The legislation was first passed while Kate was pregnant with Prince George.

Princess Louis and Princess Charlotte | Duchess of Cambridge/PA Wire
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Queen Elizabeth granted Prince Andrew’s request that his daughters, Beatrice and Eugenie, receive the title of “princess” rather than “lady.” In 2016, Andrew refuted reports that he had demanded titles for “any future husbands” of his daughters, stating he simply wanted his children to be considered “modern, working young women who happen to be members of the royal family.”

Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank did not receive any titles following their royal wedding in October, meaning their future children will not inherit any titles themselves.

Prince Andrew, Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice | Zak Hussein/Corbis/Getty

Of course, Meghan and Harry could forego giving their children titles all together.

Princess Anne‘s children, Peter and Zara, were not entitled to royal status by birth since titles can only be given to a monarch’s grandchildren through sons, not daughters. However, the Queen extended a courtesy title to Anne’s children, which she declined.

Prince Harry, Meghan Markle and Princess Anne | Dominic Lipinski/Pool via AP

Their father, Captain Mark Phillips, was a commoner and also turned down a title that would have been given to him as a wedding gift from the Queen when he wed Princess Anne.

“I’m very lucky that both my parents decided to not use the title and we grew up and did all the things that gave us the opportunity to do,” Zara told The Times in a 2015 interview.