Why Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s son Archie is not a prince

Duchess suggests that racism lay behind the decision not to give her son a title

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 25: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and their baby son Archie Mountbatten-Windsor at a meeting with Archbishop Desmond Tutu at the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation during their royal tour of South Africa on September 25, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Toby Melville - Pool/Getty Images)
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Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's allegation that their son was denied a royal title possibly because of his skin colour was one of the standout moments of their interview with Oprah Winfrey.

It sparked a hunt for the royal who made the comments, with Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip ruled out by Oprah.

But it also led to questions over what lay behind the decision for their son to be named Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, without an HRH. He is seventh in line to the British throne.

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 colour in this family not being titled in the same way that other grandchildren would be."

But royal watchers believe there is a far more simple answer.

Was Archie snubbed?

The queen has nine great-grandchildren, including Archie. Only the three children of Prince William, who is second in line to the throne and destined to be king, have prince and princess titles.

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 Mr Morris said Prince Charles has let it be known “that he favours a smaller royal family” when he takes the throne.

Archie was, however, 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."

FILE PHOTO: Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, are interviewed by Oprah Winfrey in this undated handout photo.  Harpo Productions/Joe Pugliese/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

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.

How has Buckingham Palace responded?

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.”