The Real Reason Meghan Markle Is the First-Ever Duchess of Sussex — Even Though Prince Harry Isn’t the First Duke

Before Meghan Markle married Prince Harry, she was just Meghan Markle, an actress. But when she and Harry tied the knot, she went from that to Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex. Harry isn’t the first Duke of Sussex, but Meghan is the first one to hold the title of Duchess — here’s why.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle | Victoria Jones – WPA Pool/Getty Images

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were given their titles by the queen

Before Harry and Meghan were married, Harry was only known as Prince Harry. But once they tied the knot, they became Prince Harry and Meghan, Duke and Duchess of Sussex. The queen is the one who granted them this title. Based on Harry’s royal importance, he was given the title of duke. (Duke is one of the highest royal titles possible, which is why it is typically given to princes.) The queen decides which part of the British Commonwealth the royal family members will be the sovereign rulers of; for Harry and Meghan, she chose the Southeast English county of Sussex.

Before Prince Harry, only one other royal held the title of Duke of Sussex

Royals do tend to recycle royal titles, since it wouldn’t make sense to never reuse them. While some titles have been used several times, such as Duke of Cambridge (which currently belongs to Prince William), the Duke of Sussex was only used once before it was given to Harry. The title was first given to Prince Augustus Frederick, who was the ninth child of King George III. Augustus was born in 1743 and became a duke in 1801. He died in 1843, and the royal title went extinct for the next 175 years, when the queen brought it to life again with Prince Harry.

Augustus never asked permission to marry either of his wives, so they were never granted the title of Duchess

Augustus had two wives in his lifetime. The first was Lady Augusta Murray, whom he married in 1793. His second wife was Lady Cecelia Underwood, whom he married in 1831. Typically, when a duke marries, his wife becomes a duchess. But things didn’t turn out this way for Augustus because he broke one major rule in both of his marriages: He never asked for permission from the monarch to wed. It’s a royal rule that the monarch must agree to all royal marriages. Since Augustus failed to get permission, his marriages weren’t recognized by the monarch. As a result, neither of his wives became Duchesses of Sussex.

Since Harry asked permission to marry Meghan, Meghan became the first Duchess of Sussex

When Harry decided he wanted to marry Meghan, he followed royal protocol and asked the queen for permission. The queen agreed, and the palace sent out wedding invitations noting that the queen had given the couple her blessing. Since Harry and Meghan did things the right way, Meghan was given the title of Duchess of Sussex once the marriage was made official. Although Harry’s title was recycled, Meghan is the first-ever Duchess of Sussex.

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