Will Meghan Markle Legally Change Her First Name When She Becomes a British Citizen?

We might know her as Her Royal Highness Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, but Meghan Markle’s real name isn’t actually Meghan — it’s Rachel. However, the former American actress goes by her middle name, Meghan, instead.

Between the royal family and the public, everyone knows Prince Harry’s better half as Meghan. Which is why many were confused when the duchess’s name was marked as “Rachel Meghan, Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex” on her son, Archie’s birth certificate. How is she still a Rachel? The duchess’s reasonings for holding onto her real name are unclear, but she could have a chance to officially change it in the near future.

Meghan Markle
Meghan Markle | Ben Birchall – WPA Pool / Getty Images

Will Meghan Markle change citizenship?

Meghan Markle might be a British duchess but she’s hardly a British citizen — yet. In fall 2017, Meghan Markle made the United Kingdom her official home following her and Prince Harry’s engagement announcement. They married at Windsor Castle’s St. George’s Chapel in May 2018. But, despite being members of the royal family, immigration rules still apply to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

Before Meghan Markle married her prince, she had to file for a visa to remain in the country. To do so, Prince Harry had to make a minimum of $20,000 a year or have over $21,000, which likely wasn’t an issue for the couple. In order to get approved, the Duchess of Sussex likely had to submit evidence — photos together, email and text conversations, and other documents — that her relationship with the British prince was real. Once receiving the visa, she would have to marry her beloved within six months to remain eligible (which she did).

As Prince Harry’s wife, Meghan Markle is in the United Kingdom on a family visa, which lasts two and a half years. That said, once it’s up for renewal, Meghan Markle can’t apply for citizenship yet. According to reports, the Duchess of Sussex will have to renew her family visa as she must wait a total of five years before she receives permanent citizenship.

In order for Meghan Markle to become a British citizen, she will need to take a test. According to Money, she must pass a “Life in the U.K.” test. The test includes 24 questions about Britain — including Meghan Markle’s in-laws, the royal family — and can take around 45 minutes to complete. In addition to the test, the duchess can’t have a serious criminal record and must meet residency requirements, which include proof of residence. She must also live in the United Kingdom for at least three years.

Will Meghan Markle change her name?

As a United States citizen, Meghan Markle has the option to apply for a name change at any time. She admits that her first name has caused some confusion. “I’ve never been called it, but my parents named me Rachel Meghan Markle and it’s just confused every legal document for my entire life,” Meghan Markle once told a reporter when discussing her real name. And, it’s possible that switching it could cause even more confusion (plus a lot of work) as she would not only have to change her name on her visa, but also her passport, any work-related documents from her career as an actress (the duchess likely still makes residuals), tax items, and other important things like her credit cards and bank information.

So, will Meghan Markle change her name when she becomes a British citizen? While it’s possible, it’s also unlikely. Everyone already knows her as Meghan and the royal family also refers to her by her middle name. The only time she would need to use Rachel would be in legal settings and on important documents, which doesn’t have a huge impact on her life.

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