Along with the Wednesday news that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle held a christening ceremony for their daughter, Lilibet Mountbatten-Windsor, in Montecito last week, came a message from the couple’s spokesperson that called her “princess.” It was a sign that Harry and Meghan would be using the “prince” and “princess” titles for their children, 21-month-old Lilibet and three-year-old Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, in formal settings. On Thursday morning, Buckingham Palace updated its website to reflect the changes, listing “Prince Archie of Sussex” and “Princess Lilibet of Sussex” as sixth and seventh in line to the throne, respectively.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Meghan and Harry clarified the situation surrounding the titles. “The children’s titles have been a birthright since their grandfather became monarch,” it read. “This matter has been settled for some time in alignment with Buckingham Palace.”
The titles are due to the 1917 Letters Patent, a written legal order issued by George V that states that all children of sons of a monarch can be called “prince” or “princess” and can use the designation HRH before their name. Archie and Lilibet technically received the titles upon the death of Queen Elizabeth II in September, but there has been quite a bit of confusion over whether they would use them or if a change in protocol would be forthcoming from King Charles III, who has the sole authority to make changes to the rule without involving the government.
At the time, the palace declined to share specifics about the children’s new titles, with a spokesperson telling BuzzFeed that the royals preferred to keep the focus on mourning the queen. A source close to the king told Vanity Fair, “It depends a lot on what happens in the coming months, particularly with Harry’s book and their TV show.” A royal insider told Page Six that Meghan and Harry even worried that the titles would be taken away.
But Hello! reports that an agreement between Charles and Harry about the titles was actually made before the new year, which means it also was reached before Harry’s best-selling memoir, Spare, was released. According to a palace source who spoke to Harper’s Bazaar, Buckingham Palace had not previously updated the site with the “prince” and “princess” titles for Archie and Lilibet because the children’s parents had not yet used Lilibet’s title publicly.
This does not mean that they have HRH status, though. “The use of the style HRH would come through their father, and the Duke of Sussex’s HRH is in abeyance,” a palace source told The Times, referring to the queen’s decision to disallow Meghan and Harry the use of those honorifics before their names.
Other letters patents have been issued in the past. In 2012, after the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, a new letters patent announced that all of William’s future children would be known as “prince” or “princess.” It came alongside a new law that changed the rules of the order of succession so that male heirs would no longer take precedence over their female siblings.
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