When Prince Harry married Meghan Markle in 2018, the couple became the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. It’s long been a tradition for the queen to give a dukedom title to male members of the royal family upon marriage.
In 2011, Prince William and Kate Middleton were given the title of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. So most royal followers expected the couple to earn the honors upon their marriage.
But while the royal couple has many loyal fans and is beloved by many, they have also generated a lot of controversies since they began dating in 2016. The duchess’ family has been the subject of tabloid fodder since before the couple’s marriage and the couple’s tendency to buck royal tradition has rubbed many people the wrong way.
Now, one town is petitioning to have the couple stripped of their titles. So what exactly does it this all mean, is it possible, and is it really as big of a deal as it seems?
What does it actually mean to be the Duke and Duchess of Sussex?
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On this day, two years ago: 27th of November 2017, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced the news of their engagement, later becoming Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Sussex! They have since celebrated their wedding anniversary and welcomed their son, Archie, into the world ❤️ • Photo © PA / Alexi Lubomirski / Chris Allerton © SussexRoyal
As we mentioned earlier, Duchess Meghan and Prince Harry’s titles were bestowed upon them by the queen. So, do their titles actually come with any duties or privileges?
According to Metro, the title of duke is one more of an honorary title than anything else. While the duke once had the right to rule the land that they were the duke of, in practice, that doesn’t really happen anymore.
In order to become a duke, that person must be born into the royal family. The title is usually awarded to the male upon marriage and his wife automatically assumes the title of duchess.
When Prince Harry was given the title in 2018, he became the second Duke of Sussex and Markle became the first-ever Duchess of Sussex.
Why is there a petition to strip Prince Harry and Meghan Markle of their titles?
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This evening The Duke and Duchess of Sussex accompanied Her Majesty The Queen and members of @TheRoyalFamily to the annual @RoyalBritishLegion Festival of Remembrance. This special event, which has taken place every year since 1923 at the @RoyalAlbertHall, commemorates all those who have lost their lives in conflicts. • This year’s Festival marked the 75th anniversary of a number of crucial battles of 1944, with a particular emphasis on the collaboration and friendship of the British, Commonwealth and Allied armies who fought them. A unique tribute was given to acknowledge those involved both past and present, culminating in a special parade of some of the last surviving veterans who fought and served in 1944. • Their Royal Highnesses, who last year attended their first Festival of Remembrance together, were honoured to once again pay tribute to all casualties of war and remember those that have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. #FestivalOfRemembrance #WeWillRememberThem Photo © PA / Royal British Legion
The Council of East Sussex will soon consider whether to strip the duke and duchess of their titles. This change would only affect the couple while they visit Brighton and Hove.
Currently, the petition has about 4,000 signatures. But why?
A public petition released by the council reads, in part: “We the undersigned petition Brighton & Hove Council to reject the usage of the titles “Duke of Sussex” and “Duchess of Sussex” by the individuals Henry (“Harry”) Windsor and Rachel Meghan Markle as morally wrong and disrespectful to the county of East Sussex.”
Essentially, if the council votes to remove the couple’s titles, they would be referred to by their given names instead of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, but only in Brighton and Hove only.
What does all this mean?
While it may seem like Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan losing their titles would be a big deal, in reality, it’s actually not. For starters, only the queen can officially strip the couple of their titles — not likely to happen. And even if she did, it really wouldn’t mean much.
The couple’s titles are honorary. They don’t require any specific duties and they don’t appear to come with any special pay. The prince receives an allowance from the Duchy of Cornwall and has an inheritance from his mother.
Plus, the duchess still has her wealth from when she was an actress. So while the whole scandal may be a little unpleasant, it’s just that, a scandal.
It is almost certain that the couple will officially always have their titles and will continue to do business as usual. Like the rumors that the couple will move to Africa or that there has been a deep falling out between the brothers, this scandal will surely fade away in time.
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