Harry and Meghan claimed this week that they offered to give up their titles when they fled Britain. Isn’t now the time to see whether they really meant it?
The shock and anger expressed by millions watching the series is a strong indicator that it’d be a popular move, demonstrating to the world that the couple had finally cut their ties with our royal family.
The Duke and Duchess threw mud at the House of Windsor which didn’t stick. Their series did its best to hole the royal institution below the waterline – it failed. Public opinion swung round behind William and Kate and the rest of the royals, and the battle’s over.
So since Harry offered – or says he did – to ditch his titles of Duke of Sussex, Earl of Dumbarton and Lord Kilkeel, what’s to stop it happening now?
The answer is – quite a lot. The process is a complex one, requiring an act of parliament involving politicians in both houses, some of whom could use the opportunity to take pot-shots at our embattled royals. What’s more, the Crown would have to present a reason to Parliament why the Duke’s titles should be taken away.
That would involve a very public re-run of Harry’s complaints, and a detailed explanation of why The King and his family feel he’s irreparably damaged them.
On both counts, such actions would highlight the palpable weaknesses within the royal machine – something King Charles would almost certainly wish to avoid.
In any case, it would appear from his silence and inaction that The king does not want to injure the runaway couple any more than they have been (according to them). Since his accession in September, Charles has presented a benign exterior to the world – avuncular, charming, and accessible.
It might dent that image internationally if he were to brutally strip his son of honors and dignities – and, conscious of the damage already caused by the Netflix series, particularly in the United States – Charles almost certainly would prefer to leave any decision to Harry.
Even if Harry were to renounce his titles, he’d still be a royal prince – entitled for the rest of his days to describe himself as Prince Harry. Meghan, in this scenario, would become Princess Harry – so the couple would never become Mr and Mrs Windsor, as their critics now fervently wish.
And given that, quite clearly, Meghan is the driving force in the marriage – would she actually want Harry to renounce his titles? We all know the answer to that.
Since their arrival in the United States, she’s styled herself as ‘Meghan, Duchess of Sussex’ which is actually incorrect – she can only use that title if divorced from Harry and there is a new wife; or if widowed and her son Archie took up his father’s title.
So her actual title is Duchess of Sussex, a brand name she would give up with great reluctance.
She wouldn’t be the first to put up a struggle to retain her title. The last Duchess of Sussex, born Lady Augusta Murray, who married Augustus, fifth son of King George III more than 200 years ago, clung on to the title long after the marriage was over – despite repeated orders from The king for her to drop it .
It took a lot of persuading her otherwise – including being given another title in its place, and being rewarded with backdoor payments for the rest of her life. After her exposure to the TV cameras this week, it’s not difficult to imagine the Duchess putting up a similar fight.
All of which would add to her list of complaints against the family Meghan so happily married into – so perhaps better to let the matter drop.
Least said, as the old saying goes, soonest mended.