If Prince Harry and Meghan Markle believed that they could possibly make it out of 2019 without any more ridiculous headlines coming their way, they were sadly mistaken.
It turns out that a council in Brighton, which is in the county of East Sussex, has taken up a matter that could directly impact the pair.
In response to a petition that began circulating online in July, the council has decided to discuss the possibility of stripping the Duke and Duchess of Sussex of their royal titles. Why? Because the 3,700 people who signed the petition consider the assignation of the titles to Meghan and Harry “morally wrong and disrespectful to the county of East Sussex.”
Of course, no matter what the council decides, they aren’t actually the ones who assign titles to or strip them from royals. That power has always rested with the Crown, and in particular Queen Elizabeth II.
Though the petition has a lot of support, the council is expected to dismiss the matter entirely. Since they don’t have the power to remove a title, there’s really not much point in discussing the possibility. Also, since Brighton has a population of over 200,000 people, a few thousand demanding the stripping of the royal title isn’t that big of a deal.
The issue does speak to larger concerns in the region, however. The petition reads, “As residents of Brighton and Hove we call on Brighton and Hove Council to not refer to these individuals by such titles which we believe to be entirely non democratic and symbolic of the oppression of the general public by the wealthy elite.”
It continues: “Neither will Brighton Council invite or entertain these individuals nor afford them any hospitality or courtesies above and beyond that of an ordinary member of the public.” The founder of the British Monarchists Society has commented on the petition, saying, “We are utterly dismayed that said petition has been signed by so many.”
He went on to explain: “Such a petition shows utter disdain and contempt for The Crown, not to mention copious amounts of disrespect to, and for, the Royal family which undertakes thousands of engagements per year on behalf of the nation, in right of Her Majesty as The Crown.”
Prince Harry and Meghan received their titles in May 2018, right before their wedding. The palace’s statement read, “The Queen has today been pleased to confer a Dukedom on Prince Henry of Wales. His titles will be Duke of Sussex, Earl of Dumbarton and Baron Kilkeel. Prince Harry thus becomes His Royal Highness The Duke of Sussex, and Ms. Meghan Markle on marriage will become Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex.”
Of course, this council can’t strip a royal of his or her title, but a monarch definitely can. In fact, this has happened several times over the years. In October 2019, the king of Sweden stripped his five grandchildren of their titles. The news made waves, but it was part of a long-planned decision that the family made together. The family hopes this will allow the grandchildren to have greater choice in their decisions as private citizens.
And after much speculation that the Queen might give Archie a title, he didn’t receive one. His full name is simply Archie Harrison Mountbatten Windsor, and he’s called “Master Archie” if you want to be fancy (or you have to, because it’s your job).
That’s not the first time that royal grandchildren haven’t received titles. Princess Anne’s two children, Zara and Peter, are only known as princess and prince. Because she assumed her children would have decidedly less royal futures, Anne didn’t see a reason to have titles bestowed upon them.
Edward VIII is perhaps the most famous member of the British royal history who had his title stripped, which happened following his abdication of the throne. This was the event that set the current trajectory for the royal family in motion, as Queen Elizabeth’s father ascended the throne in Edward’s place.
Japan’s former Princess Ayako also chose love over a title. For her, this means she still benefits from her connection to the royal family (and is paid $950,000 a year), but she is not responsible for royal duties. Relinquishing her title made her free to marry her husband, commoner Kei Moriya, in 2018. Both of her sisters are expected to follow suit.
Spain’s King Juan Carlos I also had his title removed after he abdicated the throne in 2014. This followed scandals and health problems that plagued the former king in the last years of his reign. Prior to that, he was a popular monarch for 40 years. I guess that goes to show no one is safe!