Will Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Royal Titles Change Now That They’ll ‘Step Back’ From Royal Life?

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle made a world-stopping announcement on January 8: They are stepping down as senior royals. The couple posted the announcement to their Instagram account, and now, the rumors are already flying about how the rest of the family feels. The queen, reportedly, was uninformed of the drastic change. Though there is still a lot to work out, we can’t help but wonder: What will happen to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s titles now that they won’t be senior royals?

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle | Samir Hussein/WireImage

Meghan and Harry announced they are stepping back from their royal roles

On January 8, Meghan and Harry made a pressing announcement on Instagram, part of which read, “We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the royal family.” Though the two said they will continue to fully support Queen Elizabeth, they made it clear that they don’t want to be in the thick of royal life any longer. Meghan and Harry have been attacked by the media and British public ever since they wed, and they recently took a six-week holiday to spend some alone time together. It’s possible that this taste of privacy and a normal life sealed the deal on their departure.

The queen can give and take titles as she pleases

When a royal marries, their title often changes to something reflecting the British Commonwealth. When Harry and Meghan wed, they went from Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex (they’re also referred to as Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex). But the title was the queen’s doing, and she has just as much a right to strip that title as she has a right to give it. Since she is the queen, she can change, bend, or break the rules as much as she wants. And if she felt there was a reason to take the couple’s title away, she could.

There’s a chance the two will ditch their titles — or that the queen will take them away 

The rumors have been swirling since the January 8 announcement, one of which is the idea that the queen was not given any notice of Harry and Meghan’s intended departure. Though Harry and Meghan aren’t entirely leaving the family, they say they are doing away with their financial independence — and at that point, they would have no legal attachment to the royals; just blood. If that’s truly the case, Meghan and Harry might opt to ditch their titles as they separate further and further.

It’s also possible that the queen might give them an ultimatum. Either stay in the royal family, or the titles will be rescinded. If she truly was not made aware of their decision until they announced it, she might punish them by removing their titles.

The title change could depend on how serious Meghan and Harry are about privacy

If the queen leaves it up to Meghan and Harry to decide on their titles, it will likely depend on how serious they are about privacy. Since they’ll still technically be royals (just not “senior” royals), they might opt to keep their titles. But if they separate from the family, become more and more distant, and start to enjoy a life of privacy, then the royal title might become baggage that they no longer wish to have.

It’s unclear right now whether their titles will actually change. Buckingham Palace released a statement following Harry and Meghan’s announcement, which suggests that there are still many details that need to be worked out — this is likely one of them.