The future of the royal family is looking, well, complicated. Last week, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex revealed shocking plans to "step back as 'senior' members of the Royal Family," which left everyone — the royal family included — with a lot of questions.
While Prince Harry is still ironing out details with Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, and Prince William, the couple's initial statement laid out a loose plan of what they're hoping to achieve: While they intend to take a back seat in senior-level royal obligations, Harry and Meghan will "work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen." This decision, which is unprecedented in royal history, means that the couple intends to remain a part of the royal family without the pressures or demands of being senior members, so will Meghan and Harry keep their royal titles?
It's still up for debate (just like everything else). If you read their statement closely, it's clear that they don't want to fully relinquish their royal titles. Basically, they hope to carry on as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, but simply want to give their family — Archie, especially —space. (FYI: Baby Archie won't be affected since he wasn't given a royal title in the first place.)
Their desire for financial independence, however, seems nearly impossible in the current royal structure. "If they plan to carry out commercial work it could conflict with their royal roles and duties, potentially posing problems in the future," royal expert Kate Nicholl points out in Vanity Fair. A trusted royal source close to Vanity Fair claims that "nothing has been ruled in or out," but it's fair to say that their desire to hold a HRH title and earn money of their own is a point of conflict.
This case is similar to other non-working royals, especially Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie. Prince Andrew's daughters bear royal titles, work for their own income (Beatrice works in business and Eugenie runs an art gallery), and aren't financially supported by Queen Elizabeth II. While Prince Andrew says that he "supports both of his daughters financially from his private income," Beatrice and Eugenie don't receive checks of their own from Sovereign Grant, the government-supported fund that finances Queen Elizabeth II's official duties.
If Harry and Meghan follow through with their plan and step down as "senior royals," they will be in the same position, which means their royal titles can remain intact. The Duke and Duchess even addressed this very point on their new website: "There is precedent for this structure and applies to other current members of the Royal Family who support the monarch and also have full time jobs external to their commitment to the monarchy."
The main difference is that Beatrice and Eugenie don't work on a commercial basis a.k.a. they don't seek payment for sponsorship deals with brands. If Meghan and Harry have plans to work with brands as influencers, there's a strong chance that they'll have to give up their titles unless the Queen makes an exception to the rule.
But it doesn't end there: Following the Sandringham Summit on January 13, the Queen released a statement about Meghan and Harry's involvement with the royal family — and the couple's royal titles were noticeably absent.
In the statement, the Queen referred to the couple as "Harry and Meghan" and "the Sussexes." In all previous statements, the Queen used their royal titles,"Duke and Duchess of Sussex." Sure, we we may be reading too much into it, but everyone knows that the royals use their words very wisely. If we're right, that means that this statement may speak volumes.
For can't-miss news, expert beauty advice, genius home solutions, delicious recipes, and lots more, sign up for the Good Housekeeping newsletter.
You Might Also Like