What Actually Is Harry And Meghan's Royal Status Ahead Of Charles's Coronation?
Prince Harry, Meghan Markle and King Charles
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s relationship with the royal family has certainly been rocky recently, to put it mildly.
It’s now not clear if the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will even attend the coronation of Harry’s father, King Charles, in May although they have confirmed receiving an invitation over email.
The pair’s fans have been quick to point out that Charles will be crowned on the fourth birthday of the Sussexes’ son Archie – May 6 – but it’s not known if Harry and Meghan are taking that into consideration.
After a flurry of high publicity events including a Netflix series about their lives together, broadcast interviews and the release Harry’s memoirSpare, it would seem royal relations are potentially at the lowest level yet.
So, while we wait to find out if the rebels will return to the UK this spring, their places within the royal ranks and the roles they might play in the official ceremony are still pretty unclear.
Here’s a recap, and a look at why it’s quite confusing:
Harry and Meghan gave up their use of their HRH titles soon after they announced they would be stepping back from their working royal roles back in 2020. That doesn’t mean they don’t have the Royal Highness styles anymore, just that they’re out of use.
They are keeping their hereditary titles as Duke and Duchess of Sussex though, as this was a wedding gift from the Queen when they tied the knot back in 2018.
When pressed on whether they would give these titles up when speaking to CBS earlier this year, Harry said: “What difference would that make?”
He also told Good Morning America that he “can’t ever get out” of the royal privilege he was born with.
“And I’m incredibly aware of my position, and I’m incredibly grateful for the life that I’ve had and continue to live,” Harry explained. “But there is no version of me being able to get out of this.”
This has been a source of contention amid their fans who thought the pair were turning against the royal establishment altogether.
Harry is also still in the line of succession, coming in at fifth place after his father his eldest brother Prince William, and his niece and nephews – Prince George,Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.
Harry and Meghan in December 2022
Frogmore Cottage and security
It was revealed last week that King Charles has asked the couple to move out of Frogmore Cottage. According to some reports, this happened in the wake of Harry’s explosive memoir, Spare in January.
According to royal reporter Omid Scobie, the pair were “stunned” after being evicted. An anonymous friend told the Finding Freedom author: “It all feels very final and like a cruel punishment. It’s like [the family] want to cut them out of the picture for good.”
The couple moved into Frogmore Cottage in 2018 on the royal Windsor estate, and were soon accused of spending millions to renovate it.
Once stepping back from the Firm in 2020 and moved to the US, they repaid the £2.4 million needed for renovations.
It’s thought this was the only place the Sussexes could stay in the UK which suited their security needs (another source of tension between the Palace and the pair).
There has been speculation that the King will offer the Sussexes a suite of rooms in Buckingham Palace instead if they do choose to attend the coronation.
Archie and Lilibet
Traditionally, the monarch’s grandchildren are always offered the titles of “prince” and “princess”, making the HRHs.
The Sussexes have previously said that Archie was not given a title in 2019 when he was born. He was the monarch’s great-grandson then.
Back in March 2021, Meghan told Oprah Winfrey: “They were saying they didn’t want him [Archie] to be a prince or princess, which would be different from protocol, and that he wasn’t going to receive security.”
Then, after the christening of their daughter Lili, PA news agency reported in March: “It is understood Lili’s title of princess and Archie’s title as a prince will be used in formal settings, but not in everyday conversational use by the couple.
“Harry and Meghan are understood to be keen to not deny their children their birth-right, but to allow them the chance to decide for themselves when older whether to drop or keep using the titles.
“The christening took place privately at the Sussexes’ home in California.”
However, this is not the first time even in modern history that a monarch’s grandchildren chose not to have the official titles.
Princess Anne’s children, Zara Tindall and Peter Phillips, did not grow up with their titles as their mother decided it would help them live a more private life without.
Harry and Meghan with Archie in Windsor Castle just after his birth in 2019
What happens if the Sussexes do attend the coronation?
As it’s not clear if the family would attend the stately event, it’s hard to draw any solid conclusions yet.
But, by looking at past stately occasions, royal watchers have speculated how the Sussexes might fit in with the grand ceremony.
For instance, the pair only appeared next to the working royals in public a few times during the Queen’s platinum jubilee celebrations in June 2022, and they did not stand on Buckingham Palace's balcony to greet the crowds below.
The Queen’s funeral was the most recent stately event which saw the Sussexes come back to the UK. While obviously a more sombre occasion, the two had a more prominent role in proceedings, with Harry joining his relatives in walking behind the Queen’s coffin on the way to its final resting place.
The coronation is also expected to include less pomp and ceremony than the Queen’s in 1953 and Charles has long been expected to slim down the monarchy in an effort to modernise it. So, he may choose to have fewer royals featuring in proceedings anyway.
It may all change quite last minute, too, if peace talks between the two sides ever get underway.
As Harry told ITV’s Tom Bradby back in January: “There’s a lot that can happen between now and then.
“But, you know, the door is always open. The ball is in their court.
“There’s a lot to be discussed and I really hope they can, that they are willing to sit down and talk about it, because there’s a lot that’s happened in six years. And prior to that as well.”
The Firm are yet to publicly address any of Harry and Meghan’s recent revelations about their struggles as members of the royal family.