What's The Difference Between Princess & Duchess? Meghan Markle's Title Is Confusing
The royal wedding is fast approaching, and I for one cannot wait for the big day to finally arrive. For people that are not as well versed in all things related to the British royal family, some questions might arise about how Meghan Markle's life will change once she's officially a member of the family. After she marries Prince Harry, one of the quickest changes that'll happen is that Markle will get an official title. So what's the difference between princess and duchess, and what will Markle become following her nuptials?
Just because Markle is marrying a prince doesn't mean that she automatically becomes a princess. Being a "commoner," as non-royals are known as in the U.K., makes things a bit more complicated for Markle in terms of being integrated into the royal family.
What her official title will be has not yet been formally announced — that'll happen following the vows she and Prince Harry will exchange on May 19. But according to Charles Kidd, editor of Debrett’s (an authority on royal etiquette), Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are expected to have the titles of Duchess and Duke of Sussex bestowed upon them by Queen Elizabeth II. Prince Harry currently holds the title of His Royal Highness (HRH) Prince Henry of Wales, and his marriage to Markle will mean that this will change too. The same thing happened when his older brother Prince William married Kate Middleton, and they were given the official title of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. After May 19, Prince Harry will be no more — although I'm sure everyone will still call him that anyway.
Both titles of princess and duchess indicate that one is a member of the royal family. But according to Live Science, princesses outrank duchesses on the scale of importance. Usually, a princess (or prince) is born with that title. But that doesn't mean that one can't gain the title through marriage.
How that happens, though, involves a series of steps that Markle has zero control over. Currently, the official Prince of Wales title belongs to Prince Harry and William's father, Charles. Prince Harry also has "of Wales" attached to his official title because he was born a prince and is still a single man. But his father carries the official title, which reads Charles, Prince of Wales. When Prince Charles married Diana Spencer, she was given the title of Lady Diana, Princess of Wales. But because she too was a commoner, like Markle, the title of Princess never preceded her name. She was colloquially referred to as Princess Diana, but officially she was never a true princess.
When Prince Charles ascends to the throne (he is next in line to Queen Elizabeth II), his oldest son William will adopt his title. And when that happens, Kate Middleton may adopt the Princess of Wales title. But because she is a commoner and not born with the title, officially she'll become Princess William, not Princess Catherine, according to Live Science.
The same thing could happen to Markle in theory, although it's highly unlikely that this will ever happen. Even when Prince William (eventually) becomes the King of England, his oldest son Prince George will officially adopt the Prince of Wales title, seeing as he would then be the next in line to the throne. And my guess is that Prince George will be holding that title for quite a while, because he'll only just be turning five this year. So Prince Harry and Meghan will likely be known as the Duke and Duchess for the rest of their royal lives.
But hey, a royal is a royal — and if I were Markle I wouldn't even think about complaining that I'll never officially be referred to as a princess. I'll take the duchess title over being known as a "commoner" any day of the week.