Will Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's Baby Have a Royal Title?

Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex (R) and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex leave after attending a Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey in central London, on March 11, 2019. BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images

With Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's first child due between the end of April and the beginning of May, speculation is rife across the U.K. and around the world as to the gender of the new royal baby and what its name might be.

With the U.K.'s ancient honors system the product of hundreds of years of tradition, one might have thought that at least the title of the new royal baby would be clear cut. However, it is not.

While Meghan and Harry's first child will inevitably have a grand title, what he or she is called or how they are styled depends on number of factors. In the first instance, it depends whether the child's parents want the baby to be referred to as His or Her Royal Highness and have the title Prince or Princess bestowed upon them.

In 1917, under George V, the royal family limited the number of royal titles it would give out. This was a reaction to growing dissatisfaction across Europe with sprawling and unpopular royal families. For over 100 years only the eldest son of the Prince of Wales' eldest son has automatically been granted a royal title. At the moment that is Prince George who, at the age of five, is third in line to the throne.

However, the Queen has the power to create princes and princesses and did so in the case of Prince George's siblings, the children of Prince William and Kate Middleton, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis. Following this convention, Harry and Meghan's first child will be known as His or Her Royal Highness The Prince or Princess of Sussex.

Royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams told Newsweek: "It is likely that they will have royal titles. The main decision will be with Harry and Meghan obviously, as to whether they would wish this.

"However, the final decision would be with the Queen but these things are normally decided by joint agreement," he added. "It's just worked out."

Fitzwilliams explained there were reasons, as modern parents, that Meghan and Harry might eschew royal titles for their children. "What it is has tended to do is attract an enormous amount of publicity," he explained, pointing to the example of Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, whose parents pushed for their titles. "They would have had freer lives without it," the royal commentator explained.

- Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex wave from the Ascot Landau Carriage during their carriage procession on the Long Walk as they head back towards Windsor Castle in Windsor, on May 19, 2018 after their wedding ceremony. AARON CHOWN/AFP/Getty

If Meghan and Harry choose not to style their children His or Her Royal Highness, convention dictates they will still inherit family titles. How this develops depends most on the sex of the child. As Fitzwilliams points out, "there is no gender equality in the peerage."

Before their wedding, the Queen granted the titles of Duke and Duchess of Sussex on Harry and Meghan. As such, the Dukedom given to Harry would pass along his male line but not to a daughter. According to Debrett's, the handbook for royal etiquette, the son and heir apparent of a duke can use one of his father's lesser grade peerage titles by courtesy. In this case upon birth Prince Harry's son could style himself either Earl of Dumbarton or Baron Kilkeel, Harry's lesser Scottish and Irish titles.

The daughter of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will have a more straightforward name if they do not choose for her to be a princess. She will be known as Lady Mountbatten-Windsor, in keeping with the 1960 royal declaration, bestowing the name on all descendants of the Queen without royal styles and titles.

Ultimately, the title of the new royal baby depends on the Queen and there is a reason it is royals who are overburdened with honors and titles. "The Queen is the font of honor and it is therefore not surprising that those closest to the font sometimes get splashed," Fitzwilliams explained.

The graphic below, provided by Statista, illustrates the line of succession to the British throne.

Line of succession to the British throne. Statista