Fact Check: Is Meghan and Harry's Son, Archie, Not a Prince Because of a Rule?

The airing of Oprah Winfrey's interview with Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, and Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, on CBS on Sunday night was a bombshell that went beyond the United Kingdom.

After facing a media storm from the British tabloids over the past few years, Meghan detailed the account of her experience within the royal family to Winfrey and expressed shock when she said she was notified that her son Archie, the queen's eighth great-grandchild, would not receive the title of prince, exempting him from the palace security protection that is status quo for many in the family.

Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor is the second-youngest member of the royal family. Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank's newborn, August Philip Hawke Brooksbank, is the ninth and youngest.

The Claim

During the interview, Meghan, who is biracial, told Winfrey that it was fair to assume that the royal family did not want her child to have the title of prince or princess because of the mixed race.

"In those months when I was pregnant, all around this same time, so we have in tandem the conversation of he won't be given security, he's not going to be given a title, and also concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he's born," she said, referring to conversations by unnamed royal family members that she claimed took place.

Meghan’s son Archie isn’t a prince because protocols established by George V in letters patent in 1917 say he’s not a prince. It’s not to do with race. It’s Meghan’s ignorance. 🙄
Was Meghan's son Archie denied the title 'prince' because he's mixed race? https://t.co/Yo4u40A7Ut

— Andy Brown (@abline11) March 8, 2021

A few social media users argued that the denial of a title was not based on her child's race, but rather a rule established by King George V.

"Meghan's son Archie isn't a prince because protocols established by George V in letters patent in 1917 say he's not a prince. It's not to do with race."

"Archie can't be a prince until Charles is king, based on a George V decree. Meghan either lied or misrepresented that aspect in the interview."

Archie can’t be a prince until Charles is king, based on a George V decree. Meghan either lied or misrepresented that aspect in the interview.

— J (@jencherub) March 8, 2021

The Facts

In 1917, George V issued a Letters patent which declared that the children and grandchildren in the direct male line to a sovereign, the ruler of the British throne, will receive the attribute of HRH and title of "prince" or "princess."

"The grandchildren of the sons of any such sovereign in the direct male line (save only the eldest living son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales) shall have and enjoy in all occasions the style and title enjoyed by the children of dukes of this realm," part of the written order reads.

This meant that only Prince George, the great-grandson of Queen Elizabeth II and eldest son of Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, would be given the title of prince.

However, the queen amended her father's Letters patent by issuing a new one before Prince George's birth in 2013 that allowed all of Prince William's children to receive royal titles. She has not issued a new rule for Archie.

Archie will be eligible to receive the attribute of HRH and title of prince, like his cousins, if and when his grandfather, Prince Charles, becomes king. Charles, the queen's first-born son, is next in line to the throne. He will become king if he is living when Queen Elizabeth II, 94, dies.

Charles' eldest son, Prince William, is second in line, followed by William's three children: Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis of Cambridge.

Because Prince William also is a first born, his children precede his brother, Prince Harry, and Harry's son, Archie, who currently is seventh in the line of succession.

Meghan told Winfrey that she heard the palace was denying Archie's title and security from Harry and "through conversations with family members." She then mentioned there was a discussion within the family regarding changing the 1917 Letters patent and the rules that would make Archie a future prince.

"I think even with that convention I'm talking about, while I was pregnant, they said they want to change the convention for Archie," Meghan claimed.

When Winfrey addressed public speculation that Meghan and Harry didn't want Archie to have the royal title, Meghan denied those claims and said, "no and it's not our decision to make."

Winfrey asked Meghan if it was important for her that Archie had a title.

"If it meant he was going to be safe, of course," she said. "All the grandeur surrounding this stuff is an attachment I don't personally have."

Prince Harry, Meghan Markle and Baby Archie
Prince Harry, Meghan Markle and their baby son, Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, meet Archbishop Desmond Tutu at the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation on September 25, 2019, in Cape Town, South Africa. Toby Melville/Getty Images

The Ruling


Archie is not a prince because of King George V's 1917 written order that only children and grandchildren in the direct male line of succession would receive royal titles along with "the eldest living son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales," which is Prince William's son, Prince George.

Queen Elizabeth II amended the order in 2013 so that all of Prince William's children would receive titles.

Archie can be titled as prince once his grandfather, Prince Charles, accedes to the throne as king.

Correction, March 10, 10:20 am EST: This story has been updated to say that Archie is the queen's eighth great-grandchild, that only Prince William's children have titles and clarifies Archie's position in the family.

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