Why Is Meghan Markle a Duchess, Not a Princess, Like Princess Diana?

Just like Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle never met her mother-in-law, Princess Diana. She’s done her best to honor Prince Harry’s mother at their wedding. And she’s following in Diana’s footsteps with her philanthropic work. But comparisons between the two women bring up some common questions. One of the most common? Why Meghan Markle isn’t called a princess when Princess Diana was.

Ahead, find out everything you need to know about why Meghan Markle isn’t “Princess Meghan,” even though her legendary mother-in-law was known as “Princess Diana.”

She’s a princess, but she’s not ‘Princess Meghan’

Meghan Markle, Prince Harry, Prince William, and Kate Middleton

Meghan Markle, Prince Harry, Prince William, and Kate Middleton | Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Town & Country reports that Meghan Markle is a princess, but she’s not “Princess Meghan.” According to the customs of British peerage, a woman takes the title of her husband. That means that Meghan is Her Royal Highness Princess Henry of Wales.

But despite her marriage to Prince Harry, Meghan Markle is not a British “blood” princess. After all, she wasn’t born into the royal family. So calling her “Princess Meghan” would be technically incorrect.

Princess Diana wasn’t a ‘blood’ princess, either

Metro reports that when Diana married Prince Charles of Wales, she became Her Royal Highness The Princess Of Wales. She was also known as Diana, Princess of Wales. Metro notes that Diana “may have had Princess within her full name, it was never her formal title, which would require Princess coming first, followed by her first name, much like Princess Charlotte,” or Princess Anne.

Just like Meghan Markle, Diana wasn’t born into the royal family and wasn’t a “blood” princess. She has that in common with Kate Middleton. “Where their occupations are concerned, the royal sisters-in-law are formally referred to as ‘Princess of the United Kingdom’ — a label Kate has used most notably on her children’s birth certificates,” Hello! Magazine reports. Neither one goes by “Princess Meghan” or “Princess Kate.” But the magazine notes that “being a Duchess is the highest rank in the British peerage system — and sometimes considered even more prestigious than being born into a princess title.”

Diana even admitted that the title wasn’t correct

Princess Diana

Princess Diana | Joel Robine/ AFP/ Getty Images

The British public began calling Diana “Princess Diana.” But as Metro reports, Diana herself pointed out that the title wasn’t technically correct. To assume the title of Princess, you have to be born into the royal family. An easy example? Prince William and Kate Middleton’s daughter, Princess Charlotte.

But that’s where things get interesting. Any daughters that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have won’t automatically be princesses. That’s because any child of the duke and duchess of Sussex won’t automatically have a royal title. (That means they’d be a lord or lady. But they wouldn’t have the title of prince or princess.)

Meghan’s highest title is ‘Duchess of Sussex’

The BBC reports that Kate automatically became Her Royal Highness, Princess William of Wales, when she married William. But she can’t call herself Princess Kate. The reason why? She has other titles that take precedence over that one. As The Huffington Post notes, William’s Duke title is senior to his Prince title.

The Express, similarly, reports that “Duke is Prince William’s highest rank, and this is what he goes by.” So while Kate is officially “Her Royal Highness Princess William, Duchess of Cambridge, Countess of Strathearn, Baroness Carrickfergus,” her most important title is “Duchess of Cambridge.” The same thing applies to Meghan Markle, whose most important title is “Duchess of Sussex.”

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