Why Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Won’t Have Legal Custody of Their Children

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle | Steve Parsons-WPA Pool/Getty Images

While we don’t know if and when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will have children, we do know that they will not have legal custody of them.

There is a list of rules and agreements laid out for Markle in the event that she becomes pregnant. She will have to follow the appropriate royal dress code, which includes wearing heels, at all times no matter how far along she is. Her friends will not be able to throw her a baby shower, and she and Harry would have to notify Queen Elizabeth II about the birth before anyone else. But the strangest royal rule is that the parents of the royal kids do not have custody of them.

This rule goes back more than 300 years and applies to all meaning that Prince William and Kate Middleton do not have legal custody over Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis. So if they do not have custody of their own children who does?

That would be Queen Elizabeth II. Her Majesty actually has full legal custody of all the minor royals. “This goes back to King George I [who ruled in the early 1700s], and the law’s never been changed,” royal expert Marlene Koenig explained. “He did it because he had a very poor relationship with his son, the future King George II, so they had this law passed that meant the king was the guardian of his grandchildren.”

It doesn’t seem likely that the queen would interject and tell the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge how to raise their kids, but she does have the final say on anything related to their upbringing and where they travel.

Princess Charlotte with Prince William and Prince George

Prince William with Prince George and Princess Charlotte | Chris Jackson/Getty Images

“When [Princes William and Harry] were little, Prince Charles asked the queen if both children could fly on a plane together to Scotland, to which the queen said yes,” Koenig revealed. “Technically, they needed permission for travel. The queen has the last word on parenting decisions like that.”

Koening also noted that this agreement stays in place even when royal couples go through a divorce. For Prince Charles and Diana, as well as Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, custody arrangements weren’t included in divorce documents “because they did not legally have custody of their children to begin with.”

In the event of the queen’s passing, custody goes to who is next in the line of succession to the throne. Prince Charles is aware that his son and Middleton prefer to raise their three kids a bit different than royals have been brought up in the past and would likely respect their wishes on most matters.

As for Markle and Harry, they have expressed their desire to have a family and when that time comes the custody rule probably isn’t something that will be at the top of their minds. That’s because, as Koening put it, the palace “doesn’t make a big deal” out of the law these days.

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