Are Meghan Markle and Prince Harry at Risk of Losing Their HRH Titles?

The 2020 year started with a shocking announcement from Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. The couple announced they were stepping away from their duties as senior working members of the British royal family. While details of the exit were ironed out months ago, a new biography about the couple, called Finding Freedom, is threatening to cost them their HRH (His/Her Royal Highness) titles. 

Prince Harry and Meghan’s royal exit 

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On January 8, 2020, Prince Harry and Meghan dropped the bombshell news on their official Sussex Royal Instagram page that they were giving up their roles as senior members of the royal family. The statement read in part: “After many months of reflection and internal discussions, we have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution. We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen.” 

After a summit with the royal family later that month, Buckingham Palace published details of the exit agreement. Notably, while the pair keep their HRH titles, they agree to stop actively using them. They will, however, still be known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

The agreement also granted the couple financial independence and the ability to take up residence across the pond (or wherever they choose). They agree to pay rent on Frogmore Cottage, their home in the U.K. and also reimburse the millions of dollars used for renovations on the property. They are allowed to keep their previous patronages, but no longer represent the queen.

The agreement will be reviewed in March 2021. This stipulation was meant to give the royal family time to let the drama surrounding the exit to die down while allowing Prince Harry and Meghan to start their new life. It also offers them the chance to return to the royal family, if they so choose.

After a final mini-tour of the U.K., the couple and their son, Archie, settled in Vancouver Island in Canada and then moved to Meghan’s hometown of LA. In March, Disney announced that Meghan would be narrating an original movie called Elephant, which began streaming on Disney+ April 3. 

What is threatening Meghan and Harry’s HRH Titles? 

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Today, we are excited to be able to announce details for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s upcoming tour to Africa! • In just two weeks, Their Royal Highnesses will embark on this official tour focusing on community, grassroots leadership, women’s and girls’ rights, mental health, HIV/AIDS and the environment. This programme has been many months in the making, and The Duke and Duchess are eager to focus their energies on the great work being done in Southern Africa. From meeting with Archbishop Desmond Tutu to joining ‘Waves for Change’ on Monwabisi Beach, the South Africa programme will be educational and inspiring. The Duke is especially proud to continue the legacy left by his mother with her work in Angola as he joins Halo Trust again in an effort to rid the world of landmines. HRH will also travel to Malawi where he will check in on the British Army’s partnership with African Parks and will be working on the ground supporting local communities. The Duke is particularly proud to be able to deliver an exciting new initiative, a Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy three-country partnership which he designed and consulted with Governments in Namibia, Botswana and Angola to protect forest and wildlife corridors around the Okavango Delta. The Duchess will be working with local organisations to promote women and girls’ health and education, entrepreneurship and leadership. With such a textured culture and history, Their Royal Highnesses are grateful for the opportunity to connect with those on the ground in Southern Africa and to be inspired by the work being done and learn how they can be better supported. As President and Vice President of The Queens Commonwealth Trust and The Duke’s role as Commonwealth Youth Ambassador, The Duke and Duchess cannot wait to meet with young leaders mobilising change and adding to the beauty of these Commonwealth countries • “We look forward to seeing you soon!” • Photo ©️ PA images / Tim Graham – Getty Images / @Sentebale /@AfricanParksNetwork / @YouthAlert

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A new biography about the couple and their royal exit, Finding Freedom, will be released on August 11. The book tells Prince Harry and Meghan’s version of events.

As excerpts start to surface, Best Life reports that palace insiders are expressing concern that the tell-all could cost the couple their HRH titles.

One of the bombshells revealed in the book is that Prince William, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince Charles were not supportive of the couple, which, according to the source is “certainly enough to create incredible disappointment in the family over the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s actions and prompt Her Majesty to consider making changes to their agreement when it comes up for review next year.”

Prince Harry and Meghan have publicly denied having anything to do with the book. The Mirror reports a representative for the couple said in a statement, “The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were not interviewed and did not contribute to Finding Freedom. This book is based on the authors’ own experiences as members of the royal press corps and their own independent reporting.”

A history of their royal titles

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry arrive at the Endeavour Fund Awards walking under an umbrella
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry attend the Endeavour Fund Awards | Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

Prince Harry was born with his HRH title, while Meghan received hers when they married, and she became Duchess of Sussex in 2018.

In England, the monarch has the power to bestow or take away HRH titles at any time. A constitutional expert told Express: “In its extreme form nothing within the British constitution is binding. Royal Warrants can be issued at any time to address any matter, either arising or one requiring rectification or clarification. Nothing is set in stone.” He added, “Consequently, what has been given, can be taken away.” 

 If Prince Harry and Meghan do, in fact, lose their titles, it won’t be the first time the queen has made such a decision. Princess Diana lost her HRH title after her divorce from Prince Charles in 1996. We’ll see if history repeats itself when the arrangement is reviewed next March.