The real reason Meghan and Harry's son, Archie, isn’t a prince

Katherine Chatfield
·Columnist
·6-min read

Amongst the many bombshell moments in Oprah’s interview with Harry and Meghan, was the accusation that their son Archie had been denied the title of “prince” by the royal family.

Meghan suggested that Archie, who is formally known as Master Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, was denied his birthright by not being given the title of Prince, or a HRH designation.

She said she was upset about the “idea of the first member of colour in this family not being titled in the same way that other grandchildren [Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, who are actually the Queen’s great grandchildren] would be.”

The Duchess implied the decision to not give Archie a title was made after “concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born.”

She was also upset that being denied a title meant he wouldn’t be provided with security, as Prince William’s three children are. “They didn’t want him to be a prince or princess…which would be different from protocol,” she said.

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When Archie was born in 2019, it was believed that Harry and Meghan were happy their son didn’t have a title, because they wanted him to live a normal life, and “grow up as a private citizen.”

Britain's Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, holding their son Archie, meet Archbishop Desmond Tutu (not pictured) at the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation in Cape Town, South Africa, September 25, 2019.
This is why Archie was never given a prince title. Photo: Getty Images

Meghan says this wasn’t the case: “It was not our decision to make,” she said. “Even though I have a lot of clarity on what comes with titles, good and bad, and from my experience, a lot of pain, I, again, wouldn’t wish pain on my child, but that is their birthright to then make a choice about.”

But despite Meghan’s insistence, protocol doesn’t dictate that Archie should be a prince – at least not yet, anyway. Here, we take a look at why Archie isn’t rightfully a prince:

Is there a historical reason Archie isn’t a prince?

Yes. In 1917 King George V issued a “Letter Patent” establishing protocol for how the children and grandchildren of a sovereign are titled. He wrote: “The grandchildren of the sons of any such sovereign in the direct male line (save only the eldest living son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales) shall have and enjoy in all occasions the style and title enjoyed by the children of dukes of these our realms.” In other words, the children and grandchildren of the King or Queen have the right to the title Prince or Princess, and HRH. Because Archie is the great-grandson of the Queen, he isn’t given a title.

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor attend the King Power Royal Charity Polo Match, in which Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex were competing for the Khun Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha Memorial Polo Trophy at Billingbear Polo Club on July 10, 2019 in Wokingham, England.
When Archie was born in 2019, it was believed that Harry and Meghan were happy their son didn’t have a title, because they wanted him to live a normal life, and “grow up as a private citizen.” Photo: Getty Images

Hold on – so, why do William’s children have Prince and Princess titles?

Under the 1917 order, Prince George is allowed the title as he’s the direct heir to the throne, after William. Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis should technically have been Lady Charlotte and Lord Louis, but in 2012 the Queen revised the rules, issuing her own "Letter Parent". This stated that “all the children of the eldest son of The Prince of Wales should have and enjoy the style, title and attribute of Royal Highness with the titular dignity of Prince or Princess prefixed to their Christian names or with such other titles of honour.” At the time, this was considered a move to acknowledge that they are the children of the future monarch.

Will Archie’s little sister have a title?

No, the same rules will apply to her as they do to Archie. Because she will be the great grandchild of the Queen, and not a direct heir to the throne, she won’t be afforded a title.

Would Archie have been guaranteed protection if he was a prince?

There’s no publicly available information around which royal family members do and don’t get security paid for them. However, although most British princes and princesses get protection as children, this doesn’t automatically mean they’re guaranteed it for the rest of their lives. Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie reportedly received protection at a cost of around $900,000 a yearz when they were 23 and 21. Since then they have paid for their own security.

Prince Louis, Prince George, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Princess Charlotte, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Anne, Princess Royal, Savannah Phillips, Isla Phillips and Autumn Phillips seen on the balcony of Buckingham Palace during Trooping The Colour, the Queen's annual birthday parade, on June 8, 2019 in London, England.
Along with William’s three children, and Archie, the Queen has five other great grandchildren, none of whom have titles, or are given security protection. Photo: Getty Images

Do any other of the Queen’s great grandchildren have titles?

Apart from Prince William’s children, no. Along with William’s three children, and Archie, the Queen has five other great grandchildren, none of whom have titles, or are given security protection.

They are Peter Phillips’ daughters, Savannah Phillips, 10, and Isla Phillips, eight; Zara Phillips’ daughters, Mia Tindall, seven, and Lena Tindall, two; and Princess Eugenie’s son, August Brooksbank, who was born in February.

Could Archie have had another title?

Yes. As the first-born son of a duke, Archie could have become Earl of Dumbarton, which is also one of the titles bestowed to Harry when he married Meghan, and the title he goes by when he visits Scotland. Archie could also have been given the title of Lord Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, but Harry and Meghan decided against both these. Eventually, Archie will be able to succeed Harry as the Duke of Sussex.

What is Archie’s full name?

Archie’s full name is Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor. He was christened as Archie, not Archibald. Archibald means ‘true’ and ‘bold’. Harrison is thought to quite literally mean ‘Harry’s son’.

His surname, Mountbatten-Windsor, is the double-barrelled family name of the royal family. The royal family had always held the name Windsor, but Prince Philip’s family name is Mountbatten.

Prince Philip spent many years bemoaning the fact that his children only bore the Windsor name, and not his. “I am the only man in the country not allowed to give his name to his own children,” he reportedly once said. In 1960, the Queen decided to combine their surnames, so their children and grandchildren carry the name Mountbatten-Windsor.

Could Archie ever be a prince?

Yes. When Charles becomes King, Archie will be the grandson of the reigning monarch, so will be given the title of Prince – if he wants to, and the rules haven’t been changed by then of course.

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