The Real Reason Why Meghan Markle Doesn’t Go By Her Legal Name (and Prince Harry Doesn’t Either)

People still can’t stop talking about the May 19 wedding between Prince Henry Charles Albert David and his bride, Rachel — or, as we’ve all come to know them, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. If this is the first time you’re hearing the given names of the new Duke and Duchess of Sussex, you’re not alone.

Believe it or not, neither Prince Harry or Meghan Markle go by their given first names, and they haven’t for awhile. See why on pages 4 and 5.

First, they’re the Duke and Duchess now

Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex leave from the West Door of St George's Chapel

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have new titles. | Ben Stansall-WPA Pool/Getty Images

Shortly before they exchanged vows, news broke that Prince Harry and Meghan would be known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex going forward. Queen Elizabeth II bestowed these honors on the couple on their wedding day, which is a royal tradition.

And, strangely enough, these titles are also nicknames in a way. While this is how the royal couple will be formally addressed from now on, their full titles are actually His Royal Highness The Duke of Sussex, Earl of Dumbarton, and Baron Kilkeel and Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex. And yes, this means they won’t use a surname.

Next: Here’s why the British royal family doesn’t use a last name. 

No last names?

Queen Elizabeth II and the Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh arrive for the wedding ceremony of Britain's Prince Harry and US actress Meghan Markle

Because of the queen and Prince Philip the royal last name is technically Mountbatten-Windsor. | Victoria Jones – WPA Pool/Getty Images

If you’ve been following royal family news for awhile, you’ve probably noticed that no one in it uses a surname. The reason for this is complex: Before 1917, the British royal family had no last name at all. That year, there was a decree by King George V that the family name would be Windsor. And while the royals still don’t use a last name, technically their surname is Mountbatten-Windsor, a blend of the Queen and her husband’s surnames.

But since the royal family is so well known worldwide, they really don’t need a last name. They’re easily identifiable without one.

Next: Here’s another strange rule about the names of the future Mountbatten-Windsor children. 

What about the children?

Princess Charlotte of Cambridge arrives at Berlin Tegel Airport

Princess Charlotte wasn’t always a princess. | Chris Jackson/Getty Images

As if Prince Harry and Meghan’s names weren’t complicated enough, there will also be a stipulation for their children. Unlike the children of Prince William and Kate, the future royal babies in this family will not be princesses and princes, but rather, they will be titled “Lord” or “Lady.” This is because Meghan wasn’t born with royal blood.

However, the Queen is able to break those rules, as she has done with Kate and William’s kids (Charlotte was originally called Lady Charlotte Mounbatten-Windsor, before the Queen stepped in and gave her the title of Princess Charlotte).

Next: Here’s why Meghan goes by her middle name.

For Meghan, it was purely professional

Meghan Markle

Meghan is actually her middle name. | Chris Jackson-Pool/Getty Images

Meghan Markle was born Rachel Meghan Markle, according to her IMDB page. Although she has gone by the name Meghan for years, she has never tried to hide the fact that her real name is Rachel. She’s also never explained why she made the change, although it’s obviously for professional reasons. “Meghan Markle” has such a nice ring to it, it’s easy to see why she chose to go by her middle name.

Next: And this is why Prince Harry shortened his name. 

For Prince Harry, it just made sense

Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex wave as they leave Windsor Castle

No one calls him Henry outside of formal settings. | Steve Parsons-WPA Pool/Getty Images

Considering Prince Harry is one of the most famous people in the world, the news of his much longer birth name always comes as a shock to those who have never heard it. While the official title of Prince Henry has always been used in formal settings (including his wedding announcements), to everyone, including family, he goes by Harry.

This prince has never seemed like a very formal person, so the name suits him. Besides, Harry has been used as a nickname for Henry in the royal family for centuries.

Next: Did you see this statement and wonder?

The wedding announcements used their real names

Queen Elizabeth formal consent royal wedding Harry and Meghan

The queen used their full names on the announcement. | Victoria Jones/AFP/Getty Images

If you followed all the royal wedding fanfare closely, you may have noticed that Queen Elizabeth II used both Harry and Meghan’s real names in her royal blessing decree. It read:

“My Lords,

I Declare my Consent to the Contract of Matrimony between My Most Dearly Beloved Grandson Prince Henry Charles Albert David of Wales and Rachel Meghan Markle, which Consent I am causing to be signified under the Great Seal and to be entered in the books of the Privy Council.”

Next: Did you watch the royal wedding vows?

The wedding vows were a different story

Prince Harry places the ring on Meghan Markle's finger during their wedding ceremony.

They used their nicknames. | Jonathan Brady/PA Wire/Getty Images

Many people who already knew that Meghan’s real name was Rachel were wondering which name she would use during her vows. And, in typical fashion, both Meghan and Harry broke tradition during the wedding ceremony by using their “nicknames” during their vows.

The Honourable Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, was the wedding officiant, and he did say Henry and Rachel at first: “In the presence of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we have come together to witness the marriage of Henry Charles Albert David and Rachel Meghan, to pray for God’s blessing on them, to share their joy and to celebrate their love…”

But that’s where tradition ended. During their vows, they said, “I, Harry, take you, Meghan” and “I, Meghan, take you, Harry.” For comparison, when William and Kate got married in 2011, Kate used her formal name, Catherine, during the ceremony even though she’d gone by Kate her entire life.

Of course, this all seems complicated to many Americans, who will likely stick to calling them Meghan, Harry, and the kids.

Check out The Cheat Sheet on Facebook!