Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have had a tumultuous relationship with their royal titles since stepping down from their roles as working royals in 2020. While they have consistently criticized the institution of the monarchy, they have also kept their Duke and Duchess of Sussex titles. This has led to confusion and speculation about their stance on royal titles and their desire to distance themselves from the royal family.
Why Meghan Markle and Prince Harry stepped down as working royals
In early 2020, Meghan and Prince Harry announced their decision to step back from their roles as senior members of the royal family. They cited the intense media scrutiny and pressure they faced as their reason for leaving. They also expressed a desire to lead a more private life and to work on their charitable endeavors through their foundation, Archewell.
At the time, Queen Elizabeth II released a statement supporting her grandson’s decision. In a separate statement, Buckingham Palace continued to refer to the couple as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex but also noted they would stop using their his/her royal highness titles.
“The Sussexes will not use their HRH titles as they are no longer working members of the royal family,” the statement on the royal family’s website reads. “The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have shared their wish to repay Sovereign Grant expenditure for the refurbishment of Frogmore Cottage, which will remain their UK family home.”
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry continue to use their royal titles, and this might be confusing to some
In their 2023 Netflix documentary, Harry and Meghan, and Prince Harry’s new memoir, Spare, the Duke and Duchess share details of the family drama that pushed them out of the UK. They also criticize the royal family’s colonial history. And they call out its toxic and codependent relationship with the British press.
But despite their criticisms of the monarchy and their decision to step back from their roles as working royals, Meghan and Prince Harry have continued to use their royal titles. The couple uses the titles with their foundation, Archewell, as well as other various ventures. But this has led to confusion and criticism from some who believe that they are trying to have it both ways — distancing themselves from the royal family while also using their royal status when needed.
However, it’s important to note that the royal family’s website still maintains Harry and Meghan’s titles as Duke and Duchess of Sussex and Earl and Countess of Dumbarton and Baron and Baroness Kilkeel. And on March 9, 2023, the site was updated to reflect royal titles for their two children, Archie and Lilibet. In line with their parents’ titles, the tots are now known as Prince Archie of Sussex and Princess Lillibet of Sussex.
“The children’s titles have been a birthright since their grandfather became Monarch,” a spokesperson for the Sussexes told Good Morning America. “This matter has been settled for some time in alignment with Buckingham Palace.”
Prince Harry wonders ‘what difference’ it would make if he and Meghan Markle give up their titles
In an interview for 60 Minutes, Anderson Cooper flatly asked Harry why he and Meghan won’t renounce their Duke and Duchess titles. “And what difference would that make?” the Prince questioned.
While the royal didn’t go into more detail with Cooper, in Harry and Meghan, he noted that his main intention in keeping the titles was to continue his family’s charitable work. “I said that if it didn’t work out, we would be willing to relinquish our Sussex titles if need be, that was the plan,” he said when detailing an email he sent to his father, King Charles III.
“We thought it would be good to give ourselves some breathing space,” he added. “But we were also really passionate about continuing our work throughout the Commonwealth supporting the Queen.”