When Prince Harry and Meghan Markle stepped back from being working royals in 2020, part of the deal was that they didn’t get to use the titles His and Her Royal Highness. Fair’s fair, right?
Sure, Harry may have been born into the Windsor family, but there’s something distinctly unregal about decamping to Hollywood to work on a development deal with Netflix.
So, why are Harry and Meghan so surprised their children won’t be getting HRH titles? Because, of course, they’re Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
According to the U.K. Sun, while King Charles III has said he will anoint both of the couple’s children — 3-year-old Archie and 1-year-old Lilibet — as prince and princess, they won’t be given HRH titles.
“Harry, 37, and Meghan, 41, agreed not to use their His and Her Royal Highness titles when they moved there two and a half years ago,” the Sun reported Thursday.
“But they moaned that it had left their family without adequate security.”
The report said that the couple began petitioning the rest of the royal family to award their children HRH titles shortly after Queen Elizabeth II’s death last week — because apparently decorum isn’t Harry or Meghan’s thing, even as Britain is still grieving.
“Harry and Meghan were worried about the security issue and being prince and princess brings them the right to have certain levels of royal security,” a source told the Sun.
“There have been a lot of talks over the past week.”
The source added the couple “have been insistent that Archie and Lilibet are prince and princess.”
“They have been relentless since the queen died,” the source added.
“But they have been left furious that Archie and Lilibet cannot take the title HRH.
“That is the agreement — they can be prince and princess but not HRH because they are not working royals.”
The couple’s argument: Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie have HRH status even though they’re not working royals. Why not Archie and Lilibet?
It might have something to do with the fact that the couple have lobbed accusations of racism against the royal family — Markle is half-black — and gave an ugly tell-all interview to Oprah Winfrey in 2021.
Or maybe it has something to do with the fact that, not contented with doing that kind of damage, Prince Harry is set to publish a poison-pen memoir about the royal family.
According to Fox News, while the book was originally set for a global release late this year, it could be delayed due to the death of the queen.
Or maybe it’s the fact that Archie and Lilibet weren’t even entitled to be called prince and princess, a source close to the royal family told Us Weekly in 2021.
“Under royal protocol established by King George V, only those in the direct line of succession to the throne get the titles [of] prince or princess,” the source said. Those rules limit the number of individuals who can call themselves HRH.
However, one royal watcher says, King Charles III was willing to meet the prodigal prince and his insufferable consort halfway by agreeing to dub their children Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet.
“Letting Archie and Lilibet become a prince and princess but not have HRH titles would be a classic compromise,” royal expert Phil Dampier said, according to the U.K. Daily Mail.
“The same thing happened to Diana and Fergie after they were divorced from Charles and Andrew. And of course Sarah Ferguson is still the Duchess of York today.”
If all these reports are accurate, there are two things we can take away from all of this.
First, and least important, “royal expert” apparently passes as a real job description over in England. I know it feels callous to mock Mr. Dampier’s chosen profession as the world mourns the beloved Queen Elizabeth II, but the fact there are professional “royal watchers” reminds Americans why we threw all that tea in Boston Harbor.
Second, this controversy is arguably the most Harry/Meghan thing that could possibly have happened at this moment. We’re talking peak Markle here — and it couldn’t have happened at a worse possible time.
Queen Elizabeth was the United Kingdom’s longest-reigning monarch, but she was more than that. When one said “the queen,” nobody needed to ask which queen you were talking about.
How much respect did she command? Even Johnny Rotten — the lead singer of the Sex Pistols, most famous for the then-sacrilegious royal-mocking 1977 single “God Save the Queen” — publicly paid his respects to the woman he once claimed “ain’t no human being” and savaged as a “fascist.”
Rest in Peace Queen Elizabeth II.
Send her victorious.
— John Lydon Official (@lydonofficial) September 9, 2022
When even Johnny Rotten is urging people to “send [Queen Elizabeth] victorious,” one ought to read the room, no matter how ambitious they may be. This was a global moment for solemnity, grief and reflection on a life well-lived. If one has their heart set on making a power move, at least wait for a decorous period after the funeral.
Instead, reports indicate, Harry and Meghan decided it was high time redefine the phrase “too soon” and used the occasion to lobby hard for royal titles for their kids, even though their progeny aren’t in line for the throne.
King Charles III, for whatever reason, decided to meet his family’s two best arguments for republicanism halfway: Fine, we’ll call your kids prince and princess, but HRH isn’t going to happen.
That seems reasonable, no? But then again, Harry and Meghan are hardly reasonable people. After all, they’ve spent over two years trashing the royal family as insufferable, hyper-elitist bigots. And now, these anti-elitists are reportedly fuming that their kids won’t get the pretentious title of His/Her Royal Highness.
For the royal family’s Hollywood annex, even a magnanimous compromise on the part of King Charles didn’t make the grade. One is halfway surprised Harry and Meghan — well, let’s be realistic here, mostly Meghan — didn’t demand Archie replace William as next in line for the throne.
And if Charles were to refuse that request, well, he must be a racist — because, as we’re constantly reminded, Archie is one-quarter black.
It’s little wonder that, just days before Queen Elizabeth’s death, Harry and Meghan were booed by Britons during an appearance in Manchester. It won’t be the last time.
“Lots of people think Harry and Meghan themselves should lose their titles, so I think they should just accept this compromise and be grateful as it could be a lot worse for them and their children,” said Dampier, our indispensable royal expert.
Yes, but that would be the reaction of individuals who occasionally commute to reality, even if they don’t live there full time. Harry and Meghan, meanwhile, stopped being working royals to take up residence in California, which explains quite a bit.
King Charles’ wise decision to withhold pretentious, meaningless HRH titles from Archie and Lilibet is one of the rare occasions where reality intruded upon the insular lives of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex — and thank heavens for that small mercy. To the extent anything positive could emerge from the death of Queen Elizabeth II and the subsequent reshuffling of the House of Windsor, this was definitely it.