Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Yes She will Be a Princess: Summing up the facts: Meghan and Harry

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Rachel Meghan Markle is beginning the transformation from American commoner to a royal highness.  Let's get a few misconceptions out of the way.

*   Meghan is not Roman Catholic. Going to a Roman Catholic high school does not make you Roman Catholic.     Kensington Palace has described Meghan and her mother, Doria, as Protestant, and her father, Thomas, as Protestant Episcopal.    The Palace also announced that Meghan will be baptized, according to the rites of the Church of England, and then will be confirmed before her marriage to Prince Harry, which will take place some time in May at St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle.

In an article that I wrote on August 21st,  I stated that I believed that Meghan may not have been baptized as an infant.  This is not unusual in the United States as more and more Americans are members or active in Christian faith communities. I was right.  If Meghan had been baptized in a Protestant church, she would not need to be baptized in order to join the Church of England.  She was never baptized.

*  Miss Markle will become a British citizen, but she will go through the normal process, which will include leaving the UK before her wedding and returning to the United States to apply for the fiancee settlement visa (the marriage has to take place within 6 months of the application.)  She is currently entering the United Kingdom on a tourist visa.   The next step after the wedding will be to apply for a marriage settlement visa so she can remain living in Britain.   The future royal can begin the application for British nationality after three years, not five, because her husband is British.

There will be no fast tracking for British nationality for Miss Markle.   This has been confirmed by Kensington Palace.

During this time period she will remain an American citizen and will be using her U.S. passport.  She will not receive a British passport until she has received her British citizenship.

[Although Prince Philip went through the naturalization process before his marriage to Princess Elizabeth in 1947, it was realized later that the naturalization was not necessary.  The Sophia Naturalisation Act (1705) have British citizenship in perpetuity to the non-Roman Catholic descendants of the Electress Sophia of Hannover.  In 1948, the law was superseded by the British Nationality Act. However, descendants born before the new law went into effect in 1949, remained eligible for citizenship.  Prince Friedrich of Prussia, who married Lady Brigid Guinness (daughter of the Earl of Iveagh) and Prince Ernst August of Hanover, father of the present head of the house of Hanover, won their right to British nationality, according to the law.]

It is possible that Meghan will renounce her American citizenship after she becomes a British national.  This is not a requirement of the UK nor US governments.  The United States does not officially recognize dual nationality but accepts that other countries do.

This Washington Post article explains in detail the financial conundrum that the Royal Family could face if Meghan does not renounce her American citizenship.

*    It is nearly certain that Prince Harry will receive a dukedom (along with an earldom and a barony) on the morning of his wedding.  He does not stop being a prince, but how he is styled will change.  Yes, the papers will call him Prince Harry, but he will be officially HRH The Duke of whatever

*  Meghan will share her husband's status.   In Britain, a wife shares her husband's rank.  Harry is a prince of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern.  At present, he is STYLED  as HRH Prince Henry of Wales (officially) but will probably be styled as HRH The Duke of ... after the wedding.

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So what does this mean for Meghan?  Repeat after me:  Meghan will be a  Princess of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland when she is Harry's wife.   She will not become Princess Meghan because she is not a princess of the blood royal.  In the United Kingdom, princess by birth are styled by their names,  wives of princes are not.  (It it is what was done at the German courts.)  Yea, it may be a bit out of date these days, but ... it is what is done in the United Kingdom so get over it!

This is why Meghan will have the status of a princess.

In 1923, after the wedding of the Duke of York to Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, an official statement was released by the palace:

"In accordance with the settled general rule that a wife takes the status of her husband Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon on her marriage has become Her Royal Highness the Duchess of York with the status of a Princess."

Read it again, say it with me:   Meghan will have the status of a princess.  Share this with all your doubting friends.   People and People Magazine will probably call her Princess Meghan.   Don't get your knickers in a twist about this.  Most people are not royal experts and don't truly understand or care.

Just don't send a letter to HRH Princess Meghan.

*   She will not be HRH Meghan, Duchess of whatever.  No name in title.  Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge  is incorrect as well.  She is HRH The Duchess of Cambridge.   Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge indicates one of two things:  a widow of a peer or the divorced wife of a peer.

When the Lady Diana Spencer married HRH The Prince of Wales (who has a bunch of other titles, too) she became HRH The Princess of Wales (as well as the Duchess of Cornwall, Duchess of Rothesay, Countess of Carrick, Princess Charles, and so on.)   After the divorce, she lost the HRH, stopped being a princess of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland by marriage, and was styled as the former wife of a peer:  Diana, Princess of Wales.

If you do not believe this, invest in a copy of Debrett's Correct Form.

*  Meghan will continue to use Meghan as her name, although her first name is Rachel.  She has never used Rachel as her first name.   As a royal, she will sign her first name only.

I do not know everything and my crystal ball has been at the repair shop for years as the piece needed to see all is no longer available from the manufacturer.

I do not know the date of the wedding.  I do not know what tiara she will wear.  I do not know where they will live in the future, but I expect Nottingham Cottage will not remain their London residence for long.    I also not know when her belongings will arrive in England.

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What I do know is this:  American-born Meghan Markle will have the status of a Princess of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland when she is married.


Cheryl Dikeman said...

Thank you for clarifying this issue. said...

It is interesting that Harry will receive a Dukedom and I realise it has been spoken on many times though Prince Edward's Earldom upon marriage was certainly a letdown.. Even though after the Duke of Edinburgh's passing and eldest son's succession, this may be any time in the next 7 -8 years off.

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

It was at a time when there was a lot of criticism, etc. toward the royal family. so it was decided to not give Edward a dukedom at the time, but would be created duke of Edinburgh when the title returned to the Crown.

Matthew Plooster said...

It's interesting (and probably not at all productive) to think about how the royal family would look (titles, working roles, etc) had the scandals of the 1990s had not happened. I'm sure Edward would have received a dukedom and his children would have been styled princess and prince, as well as the York princesses playing an official role of sorts. Perhaps.

Carol T. Peck said...

Edward wanted to honour his father and give his children the surname Mountbatten-Windsor. According to the rules established after Lord Mountbatten crowed about a future Royal House of Mountbatten, Mountbatten-Windsor would be the name of descendants who were not Princes or Princesses. Therefore, the children are Lady Louise and Viscount Severn (Edward's second title) instead of Princess Louise and Prince James. Also, becoming Earl of Wessex on marriage was the mechanism by which Edward could have a title but still become Duke of Edinburgh on his father's death. I don't remember any commentary at the time of the wedding indicating that previous scandals by other members of the family made the Queen deny her youngest son an equal Ducal status to his brothers.

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

Carol, You have a few facts wrong. Edward WILL NOT become Duke of Edinburgh when his father dies. He will receive a new creation of the dukedom after his brother is king and his father is deceased. The current title is by creation of a 1947 letters Patent. The succession for the current dukedom is Charles, William, George, Harry, Andrew and then Edward. If the duke dies before the queen, Charles will succeed as Duke of Edinburgh, but not be styled ... the title has to return to the crown before it is create. It is unlikely that the Earldom of Merioneth and Barony of Greenwich will be included in the new creation. For another, Louise and James are STYLED as children of an earl, but are in fact princesss and prince of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This is due to the 1917 Letters patent from george V James and Louise are grandchildren in the male line so they technically HRH and Prince and Princess. No letters patent was issued to change this when Louise was born. It was done in a press release. Several years ago, Sophie acknowleged in an interview that she knows her kids are actually royal. I have stated that many times that family scandals and the fire had an effect on titles, etc. Lord Mountbatten's alleged comments were made in 1952 - when the Queen stated that the House and family name would remain Windsor. In 1960, she issued a new LP that stated that the House would remain Windsor, the family name would be Mountbatten-Windsor for descendants who do not have titles. The M-W surname was used by Anne, Andrew and Edward on their marriage registers. Charles did not. We do not know what was on William's because his was not released. Harry as second son will probably use M-W. Edward's daughter is STYLED as Lady Louise Windsor, not Lady Louise Mountbatten Windsor but she uses it as a surname.

Matthew Plooster said...

What was the timing of the announcement stating that Edward would, in due course, receive the Edinburgh dukedom? My recollection was that, at the time of his wedding, he was Earl of Wessex, in final. The dukedom announcement came later, as a sort of recognition of the work that Edward and Sophie have done with the DoE Award (and, in marketing terms, to keep the branding consistent in future years). I'm sure that I am missing a big moving piece here...

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

Matthew The announcement that Edward would eventually be created Duke of Edinburgh was made on the day of the wedding. It was included in the announcement of the Wessex title: "The Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh have also agreed that the Prince Edward should be given the Dukedom of Edinburgh in due course when the present title now held by Prince Philip eventually reverts to the Crown."

Andrew said...

All the above useful information notwithstanding, much of the press will probably just refer to her as "Meghan Markle," the same way they're still talking about "Kate Middleton" after all these years.