Wednesday, 21 Oct 2020

Sophie Wessex and Prince Edward paved the way for Meghan Markle and Harry’s son Archie

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Sophie, Countess of Wessex, 55, and Prince Edward, 56, have two children – Lady Louise Windsor, 16 and James, Viscount Severn, 12. Despite being born a Princess and a Prince, Louise and James are styled after their parents’ peerages instead. According to a constitutional expert, it was this precedent which will allow Meghan Markle and Prince Harry to stop Archie Harrison from being known as a prince when his grandfather Prince Charles ascends the throne.

Meghan and Harry wish to raise Archie, one, away from the royal limelight.

They have moved to the USA following their step down from their senior royal roles in March and are expected to raise their son as a private citizen in the States.

Nonetheless, when Prince Charles becomes king, royal law means Archie will automatically become a prince.

Whether or not Archie takes the title will follow a precedent previously set by Sophie Wessex and Edward.

Constitutional expert Iain MacMarthanne told Express.co.uk: “Like his great-grandfather, grandfather and mother before him the Prince of Wales when he becomes king will, in consultation with the prime minister and cabinet of the day, be able to amend, change and determine who enjoys the style and title HRH and prince or princess.

“Whether this happens, and who it might affect, only time will tell.”

According to Mr MacMarthanne, Archie is likely to assume a title despite Harry and Meghan’s step down as working royals.

He said: “As things presently stand, and irrespective of his parents withdrawal from front line royal duties, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, otherwise the Earl of Dumbarton, and upon the accession of his grandfather HRH Prince Archie of Sussex, unless the Queen determines otherwise in the meantime, is, by courtesy, an earl, and will become an HRH and Prince.”

However, the expert does flag that royal parents, including Sophie and Edward, can reach an agreement with the presiding monarch over their children’s titles.

Mr MacMarthanne added: “Despite Letters Patent stating one thing it remains the right of his parents, in consultation with the monarch, to dispense with the use of any and all titles due to him by right.

“A current example of this is the children of the Earl and Countess of Wessex and Forfar, their daughter rather than being HRH Princess Louise of Wessex and Forfar is known as Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor; and her brother styled Viscount Severn, is in fact HRH Prince James of Wessex and Forfar.”

According to Mr MacMarthanne, royal parents’ “personal choice” with the consent of the sovereign can keep offspring from taking HRH styles.

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Mr MacMarthanne said: “By Letters Patent, unless changed, there is no escaping the legal fact of them, notwithstanding that personal choice, with the approval of the monarch, can subvert them.”

There is a chance that Archie could rebel against his parents’ wish when he reaches 18 and choose to be known as a prince.

Mr MacMarthanne said: “In the case of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, they have made clear they have no wish for their son to have, or use any title.

“This has been granted and unless they or their son choose otherwise he will continue not to use them.”

He added: “It does though remain their son’s right to assume the use of them in his own right when he reaches his majority.”

Like Archie, Sophie and Edward’s children will also be able to decide whether or not they wish to use their royal titles when they turn 18.

Mr MacMarthanne added: “Interestingly in respect of their own children the Earl and Countess of Wessex and Forfar have already acknowledged this fact meaning the precedent has been set.”

Touching on her and Edward’s decision not to give their children HRH styles, Sophie told the Sunday Times Magazine:   “We try to bring them up with the understanding they are very likely to have to work for a living.”

“Hence we made the decision not to use HRH titles.

“They have them and can decide to use them from 18, but I think it’s highly unlikely.”

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