LONDON — One of the most dramatic claims in Prince Harry and Meghan’s interview with Oprah Winfrey was the allegation that their son was denied a royal title, possibly because of his skin color.
Harry and Meghan’s son, seventh in line to the British throne, is Archie Mountbatten-Windsor. In contrast, the children of Harry’s older brother, Prince William, are Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.
Meghan said that while she was pregnant “they” — presumably the palace — “were saying they didn’t want him to be a prince … which would be different from protocol.”
She implied it might be a case of “the first member of color in this family not being titled in the same way that other grandchildren would be.”
Was Archie snubbed?
Queen Elizabeth II has nine great-grandchildren, including Archie. They are not princes and princesses, apart from the three children of Prince William, who is second in line to the throne and destined to be king one day.
A decree issued by King George V in 1917 limits the titles of prince and princess to the children of the monarch, children of the monarch’s sons and “the eldest living son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales” — that’s William’s son Prince George.
Bob Morris from the Constitution Unit at University College London, said the rule was drawn up to trim the increasingly unwieldy number of princely titles.
“Queen Victoria had nine children who were all princes and princesses, and then they had children and so forth, and George V took the view ... that something needed to be done to tidy up the situation,” he said.
The queen has the power to amend the rules, and in 2012 she decreed that all the children of Prince William and his wife, Catherine, not just the eldest, would be princes and princesses.
Under the George V convention, Archie is not a prince, but will become one as the grandchild of a monarch once current heir to the throne Prince Charles is king.
In her interview, Meghan said she was told that “they want to change the convention for Archie.”
It is unclear what she was referring to, but Morris said Prince Charles has let it be known “that he favors a smaller royal family” when he takes the throne.
Archie was eligible for a “courtesy title” at birth, such as Lord Archie Mountbatten-Windsor. At the time, it was reported that Harry and Meghan had chosen not to give him a title.
But Meghan told Winfrey that “it was not our decision to make.”
Does the title affect Archie’s security?
Meghan expressed concern that without a title, Archie “wasn’t going to receive security.”
But a royal title such as prince or princess does not automatically bring security protection. Full-time working royals — including Meghan and Harry before they moved to North America last year — receive taxpayer-funded police bodyguards. Senior royals who have jobs outside the family, such as Prince Andrew’s daughters Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, do not.
What does the palace say?
Buckingham Palace has not responded to specific allegations in the interview. In a statement, it said “the issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning. While some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately.”