Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis will be getting a new baby cousin next spring, courtesy of their uncle Prince Harry and aunt Meghan Markle, the palace announced Monday morning. But when the trio’s newest playmate arrives, he or she won’t have the same royal title as them. According to The Evening Standard, only children of the king or queen or male-lineage grandchildren of the king or queen are automatically born with the title of HRH prince or princess.
That rule, according to the Standard, was put in place by King George V in 1917, when he decreed, “The grandchildren of the sons of any such Sovereign in the direct male line (save only the eldest living son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales) shall have and enjoy in all occasions the style and title enjoyed by the children of Dukes of these Our Realms.”
Technically, under that rule, Prince George was supposed to be the only one of Queen Elizabeth II’s great-grandchildren to bear that title, but before his birth, QE2 issued a Letters Patent that allowed all of Prince William and Kate Middleton‘s children to be princes and princesses. Therefore, per the Standard, the queen could issue another, similar decree affording Prince Harry’s kids the same privilege. If she doesn’t, they’ll simply inherit one of their father’s courtesy titles—the extraneous titles Queen Elizabeth gave him before his wedding day, alongside the Duke of Sussex moniker—such as Earl of Dumbarton and Baron Kilkeel. Unfortunately, those titles will only pass on to Harry and Meghan’s sons, while their daughters would simply carry the title of “Lady” before their names.
Whatever their formal royal titles, the children will share the royal family’s last name, Mountbatten-Windsor. In recent history, however, the royals have opted not to go by that mouthful of a surname in their day-to-day lives: Prince William and Prince Harry have both used the last name Wales, since their father is the Prince of Wales, and it was recently reported that Prince George goes by George Cambridge (again, in honor of his father’s title) at preschool. If they follow that tradition, Markle and Prince Harry’s offspring would use Sussex as a last name.
Now that that’s all cleared up, all that’s left to do is start taking bets on what the royal baby-to-be’s first name will be.
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