Why Are Prince Harry And Meghan Markle Now Called The Duke And Duchess Of Sussex? Here's What Their New Royal Titles Really Mean
There are pretty good reasons for why this lovely couple was renamed the Duke and Duchess of Sussex!
While UK citizens might already be familiar with the royal British tradition of bestowing newlyweds with new titles, those outside the realm might need a crash course in understanding their significance.
For instance, who knew that new titles are actually gifted by the reigning monarch (Queen Elizabeth II, in this case) on a couple's wedding day? It turns out that being given new titles is a huge honor, and is another indication that a royal and his spouse have been fully accepted into the clan. (Traditionally, only senior male members of the royal family are bestowed a title which their wives adopt. Harry is sixth in line to the throne).
There have been royals in the past who were not given new titles, because their marriages were deemed unacceptable or void by the present King or Queen—more on that later.
The practice of bestowing titles began centuries ago when the European feudal system was still in place. Titles were given to royals and non-royals alike who had proven their loyalty to the crown in exchange for protection and power. But in modern day, the practice has been re-interpreted to focus on issues of noble ranking, inheritance, lineage, political influence, and related concerns.
Another point of appreciation about Meghan and Harry's new titles is that being bestowed a dukedom is, in fact, more prestigious than being called a prince. Contrary to what Disney has instilled in all of us, other royal titles in the English monarchy like marquess/marchioness, earl/countess, viscount/viscountess, or baron/baroness hold more weight.
The Queen has the option of giving more than one title to newlyweds and can also choose to give Scottish and Northern Irish titles, but overall, being made a duke/duchess is the highest rank one can receive. Hence, Harry’s complete title is His Royal Highness The Duke of Sussex, Earl of Dumbarton and Baron Kilkeel, while Meghan's is Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex.
When it comes to choosing the location of Sussex, it gets even more interesting. Harry is only the second male royal to hold the title since it was last used in the 1800s, and Meghan is the first ever woman to be made the Duchess of Sussex. This is because the first royal to be given the name, Prince Augustus Frederick, had both his marriages declared null and void by his father, the reigning King. None of his children inherited the title, and it became free after his passing.
But best of all, it's heartwarming to learn of the Sussex titles' serendipitous meaning to Harry and Meghan. Prince Augustus was known to be progressive in his beliefs; he supported the abolition of the slave trade, as well as the emancipation of Catholics, Jews, and other royal dissenters. He believed in inclusivity and fairness. With an African-American woman, who holds beliefs that are similarly progressive, using the title, it couldn't have been more fitting.
And with that, we now have a better appreciation for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and the deeper meaning of British royal traditions!
Cover and content image from @kensingtonroyal