The 1 Thing Holding Meghan Markle Back From Becoming a British Citizen

There is no doubt that Meghan Markle joining the British royal family has helped forge a more meaningful connection between the U.S. and the U.K. Americans have long been fascinated by the British royal family, but now that one of their own has married in, it seems like that fascination has hit a fever pitch. Truly, no one can get enough of having an American princess!

Growing up, Markle probably never guessed that she would even be living outside the U.S., let alone that she would become such an important figure in British society. Surreal as it may be for Markle, her status as a British royal means that she is likely to spend the rest of her life in the U.K.

She’s obviously been putting down permanent roots, but she has yet to become an official British citizen. So why is Markle not yet a citizen? Is she ever going to give up her American citizenship? If so, what exactly is the hold-up on her making it official?

There is one main reason that Markle isn’t a British citizen yet

Meghan Markle attends a memorial service
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex | Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images

When it comes down to it, the main reason that Markle hasn’t yet become an official British citizen is the fact that it takes a tremendous amount of time. There are actually numerous rules that govern when and how a person can become a British citizen, even if that person marries a royal.

Some of these rules concern the family visa, which Markle had to get before she could apply for citizenship. This is the kind of visa someone gets when they are going to marry a British citizen, which they must do within 6 months of receiving it.

Luckily, both that six-month requirement and the expectation that her spouse makes at least $20,000 a year were pretty easy for the wife of a royal to meet. However, even once one gets the family visa, they have to be living in the country for five years before they are eligible to apply for permanent citizenship.

At this point, Markle has likely satisfied all the other requirements of citizenship, so she simply has to wait out this five-year requirement.

Couldn’t Markle get some kind of special treatment?

Not according to the BBC, who reported that when it comes to the citizenship question, Markle expects to be treated like anyone else hoping to become a permanent Brit.

When asked about it, Prince Henry’s communications secretary Jason Knauf told the press that Markle plans to “[comply] with immigration authorities at all times” and that she will be going through the same process everyone else does, even if that means it will take a number of years for her to achieve citizenship.

Some of the other qualifications Markle is required to meet before she is granted citizenship include passing an English language test, passing a test with questions related to life in the U.K., and paying the £1,282 citizenship fee.

She will also have been required to submit artifacts and evidence (like email records and holiday photos) proving that her relationship with her husband is a real one.

Given the public nature of their marriage (and the fact they have a kid together), this last one should be the easiest requirement of all. 

Will she have to give up her American citizenship to do so?

No one yet knows for sure if Markle will become a full-blown British citizen or if she plans to apply for dual nationality status, though that is something it is possible to do.

One thing we do know is that U.S. tax code can be a real pain in the neck for people who are dual citizens. If Markle does not give up her American citizenship, she would be required to report her income and assets to the IRS — something the royal family might not want to do, understandably.

It remains to be seen how she’ll handle that can of worms when the time comes but one thing is for certain: it’s only a matter of time before Markle is an official British citizen.