Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle’s engagement has already shaken up the British monarchy in a big way. But royal enthusiasts are less concerned about how the couple recently broke royal protocol—and more interested in the issue of Meghan’s future royal title.
Why? When it comes to the protocol of the British monarchy, nothing is more complicated than royal titles. For instance, Princess Charlotte’s future kids won’t get royal titles, but Prince George’s will. But here’s where things get even trickier: While Kate Middleton may one day take the title of “Princess,” Meghan will not ascend to official princess status.
To become a bonafide “Princess,” royal custom dictates that one must either be born the daughter of a prince or become a prince’s wife. But marrying Prince Harry won’t technically make Meghan a true princess, thanks to Prince Harry’s position in the royal line-up.
Like Prince William before him, Prince Harry will probably receive a royal dukedom from the Queen as a wedding gift. Prince William became the Duke of Cambridge after marrying Kate Middleton, making Kate the Duchess of Cambridge. Royal insiders say that Harry, on the other hand, will likely become the Duke of Sussex on his own wedding day. That would make Meghan the Duchess of Sussex. (If you’re confused as to who’s who, this chart explains the entire British royal family tree.)
Complicating matters further, once Prince Charles becomes King of England, Prince William will become “Prince of Wales,” making Kate the “Princess William of Wales.” But because Harry is currently fifth in line for the throne—and will soon be sixth after William and Kate’s third baby is born—he will probably remain a duke.
Royal rules aside, becoming a Duchess is still pretty cool—and it won’t stop us from looking forward to another fairytale wedding. Now that that’s settled, this royal couple has another pressing issue to address: Prince Harry and Meghan could actually be cousins!