Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's future daughter may be first to inherit royal title

Sabrina Barr

An antiquated law that states that only sons can inherit hereditary peerages is being challenged in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

This could have significant implications for the future children of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, should they have any daughters.

Kensington Palace has announced that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are expecting their first child in spring 2019.

The law currently dictates that only a son can inherit a dukedom, meaning that if Prince Harry and Meghan have a daughter, she will not be bestowed with the title.

However, a case being put forward to the ECHR is arguing that this ruling should be changed.

“Under the current system, any child of the Duke and Duchess won’t automatically have a royal title,” royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams explained to The Independent.

“The peerage, unlike the succession to the crown, favours males and if they have only daughters, the title of Sussex could die out as it did before.”

The challenge to the ECHR is focusing predominantly on the case of five women, all of whom are daughters of peers and yet don’t have the right to sit in the House of Lords.

The case, which was put forward in Strasbourg, France by a group of lawyers in July, has been lobbied by pressure group Daughters’ Rights.

“It is 100 years since women got the vote and it is outrageous that women still don’t have the right of election to our upper house,” Charlotte Carew Pole, head of the group, told The Times.

“This is the last state-sanctioned sexual discrimination and it needs to be eradicated from the statute book.”

In 2013, the Succession to the Crown Act outlined that the gender of a member of the royal family would no longer determine where they stood in the line of succession.

This meant that when Prince Louis was born on 23 April this year, his older sister Princess Charlotte made history as the first female royal to retain her claim to the throne.

While this law was enacted specifically with the children of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in mind, the same was not done at the time with Prince Harry and his future offspring.

Some argue that the House of Lords and the peerage system shouldn’t exist at all, as it undermines the notion of a democracy.

The women included in the case submitted to the ECHR in Strasbourg are Lady Tanya Field, Lady Willa Franks, Hatty Byng, Lady Eliza Dundas and Sarah Long.

All five are daughters of peers, and yet don’t have the right to sit in the House of Lords among their male counterparts.

On the royal family’s official website, Meghan’s biography includes the quote: “I am proud to be a woman and a feminist,” as articulated during a speech at the UN on International Women’s Day 2015.