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That’s not how titles work

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have rebranded their website to “unify” their family after their children started using the Sussex title.

Rather than being known as the Mountbatten-Windsors, Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet had been known as Archie Sussex and Lilibet Sussex since the coronation, a source said — in the same way that Harry was known as Captain Wales when he was in the army.

Trust an American to get this entirely wrong.

The Duke of Marlborough’ actual name is Spencer-Churchill. Now, he was, for a time, known by his title. But of course that was Marquis of Blandford, which means Jamie Blandford.

Therefore, Archie can be Archie Mountbatten Windsor, or Archie Dumbarton. But not Archie Sussex.

Tsk. There was a time when Duchesses knew such things. Tempora, Mores etc

24 thoughts on “That’s not how titles work”

  1. Flunky: “My lord, the Duke of Marlboro, Lord Chesterfield and the Earl of Richmond are outside.”

    King : “What do they want, an audience ?”

    Flunky : “No, a light.”

    ©Wizard of Id comic strip

  2. Harry’s relinquished his princelyness, so doesn’t that mean Archie and Lilibet (yeah gods, how chav!) are also not prince/princess?

  3. So it’s Harry who is Dumbarton? Got it.

    Has nobody from Dumbarton thought to write to the King and ask for that blemish to be removed from the town’s metaphorical escutcheon?

  4. There was a rich, landed chap who lived near us when we were young. My father had known him since childhood so we knew him only as Teddy.

    I suppose that implies that there were very few other Teddys in the county.

  5. Harry’s relinquished his princelyness . . .

    He’s still a prince (by birth); it’s the HRH style he relinquished. Likewise Meghan is still a princess (by marriage, although the marriage angle seems to make it silent unless there is special dispensation from the Sovereign – technically she is Princess Harry). Their children became prince and princess upon Charlie becoming King. They’re all still in the Royal Family. Harry, Archie and Lilibet are 5th, 6th and 7th in line respectively.

    The manouvres with the Sussex name might be defensive as well as branding. There are mutterings about stripping it from them so the more they wrap themselves up in it the more difficult it might be for the King to start writing Letters Patent all over the shop.

  6. But not Archie Sussex.

    True, but he is Prince Archie of Sussex. Is this what she means? Her failings aside, I wouldn’t trust journotwats to interpret her correctly or honestly.

  7. Hold on, if wee Eck is to take a subsidiary title of this father’s why was Harry “Harry Wales” in the army? Wasn’t “Wales” his father principal title?

  8. Harry “Harry Wales” in the army?

    Cos Mountbatten-Windsor was too long to write on the iron on labels in his socks.

  9. I don’t think “Duke of Sussex” is a subsidiary title for Harry. He was born Prince Henry of Wales (prince due to being grandchild of sovereign, Wales due to dad’s status) but that was as much a description as a title. Harry was made Duke of Sussex by the Queen on his wedding day and that’s now his primary title as far as I can tell.
    Archie will inherit the dukedom if he survives his father (it will no longer be a royal dukedom then), but I think it goes extinct if only Lilibet survives. However, if Archie changes gender then “she” will get to keep the title. Sad.

  10. Since the Queen died and the Duke of Sussex’s kids acquired the princely style, they have been Prince Archie of Sussex and Princess Lilibet of Sussex (in the same fashion as the late HRH Prince Michael of Kent). Note that they are not “HRH” by a specific agreement between the late Queen and their parents.

    Archie Sussex is a perfectly reasonable interpretation of that in a republic (the United States) that doesn’t recognise titles of nobility, and is also the usual interpretation in the military (in which context a military rank with a surname is the customary form of address regardless of other titles held – only “Doctor” for medical doctors and clerical titles for chaplains can ever supercede a military rank when a serviceman addresses a serving officer – military surgeons revert to their rank as an officer, they are not “Mister”).

    The title “Prince Archie of Sussex” is senior as a style to any courtesy title. Only if he held a peerage in his own right would he use that in preference to the princely style.

    “HRH Prince George of Wales” is the style used for that person, in preference to his courtesy title “Duke of Cambridge”, because it’s the senior title. It’s very unusual for there to even be a courtesy title to not use – the Prince of Wales does not normally hold any hereditary titles in his own right, as the Princedom of Wales and Earldom of Chester are granted specifically by the monarch to the individual with no inheritance, and the other titles (Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Rothesay, etc) are granted specifically to the heir apparent, and are not hereditary.

    If not for specific letters patent denying him the style (by agreement between the late Queen and his parents), the Earl of Wessex, as the male-line grandson of a monarch, would be HRH Prince James of Edinburgh. The courtesy title Earl of Wessex is inferior to the royal princedom, though the substantive title Earl of Wessex, when it was his father’s senior title, was not inferior to a princedom and he (ie Edward) was styled HRH The Earl of Wessex.

    As an aside, these letters patent grant the Earl of Wessex and his sister Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor the right to claim their royal titles (ie TRH Prince James and Princess Louise of Edinburgh) at any time they choose to do so after their 18th birthday. She has not yet elected to do so, and he is not yet 18. The expectation is that they would only choose to do so were they to become working royals. Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet of Sussex do not have the express right to claim their HRH titles, though were they to become working royals as adults, I imagine the present King (or a future monarch) would be inclined to do so by letters patent. They would normally be entitled to the HRH as well as a princedom as the male-line grandchildren of a monarch.

  11. @RG: jolly good, but does that contain an explanation of the difference between Tim’s claim that sons can use a lesser title of their father yet Harry was “Harry Wales” in the army? Is it this bit: “It’s very unusual for there to even be a courtesy title to not use – the Prince of Wales does not normally hold any hereditary titles in his own right, …”?

  12. Baron Pictland

    Maybe the blokes knew as little about these damn titles as I do, so they just called him Harry, since that was his name, and Wales, ‘cos he was a Prince of the place??

  13. yet Harry was “Harry Wales” in the army

    IIRC there was some personal security obfuscation going on, given that he was shooting mohammedans from his helicopter gunship. As soon as some journocunt outed him, he was pulled out of action immediately.

  14. William used “Wales” as his military surname too, so I don’t think there was obfuscation at play; more like simplicity. The brothers were born Prince William of Wales and Prince Harry of Wales and still had those styles / titles (?) as young adults entering the military. It seems a straightforward choice for geezers who don’t have a surname as such.

    Phil the Greek had a good one:
    “Lieutenant His Royal Highness Sir Philip Mountbatten”
    but only for one night before his wedding, after he picked up the HRH and before the Edinburgh dukedom.

  15. “jolly good, but does that contain an explanation of the difference between Tim’s claim that sons can use a lesser title of their father yet Harry was “Harry Wales” in the army?

    There are actually three explanations of this:

    The only son that uses a lesser title (“a courtesy title”) of their father is the eldest son, ie William.

    The only courtesy titles that can be used are hereditary titles (the way this works is that you use the title because you will inherit it) and Charles, as Prince of Wales, didn’t hold any hereditary titles until Philip died.

    “Prince”, because it’s a personal title, not a courtesy title, is higher-ranking than a courtesy title. The children of a monarch are “Prince Firstname” or “Princess Firstname”; the male-line grandchildren are “Prince Firstname of Placename” or “Princess Firstname of Placename”, where that placename is the territorial location of the title held by their royal father (who are always given a territorial title on marriage, ie before the kids are born).

    If we look at George and Louis (William’s sons), George is entitled to use a lesser title of William’s. Most of William’s titles (like Prince of Wales, Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Rothesay) aren’t hereditary, so he can’t use them as courtesy titles. But the Duke of Cambridge is hereditary, so he could use that. But “Prince George of Wales” is higher ranking than the courtesy title “Duke of Cambridge”, so he uses the personal princely title over the courtesy dukedom. If he gets granted a personal dukedom while then that would supercede the princedom and he would become Duke of Wherever. And when Charles dies, King William V will presumably make him Prince of Wales.

    Louis can’t use a courtesy title anyway. If he wasn’t royal, as the younger son of a Duke, he’d be “Lord Louis Mountbatten-Windsor”. But he is royal, so he’s “Prince Louis of Wales”.

    The current living male-line grandsons of monarchs (excluding those who are also sons of a monarch) are:

    George V: HRH Prince Michael of Kent
    George VI: none (only had daughters)
    Elizabeth II: The Earl of Wessex (he could be “HRH Prince James of Edinburgh”, but is not styled as such; he can adopt the royal style at his choosing in adulthood)
    Charles III: HRH Prince George of Wales, HRH Prince Louis of Wales, Prince Archie of Sussex

    There are also some male-line granddaughters:

    George V: HRH Princess Alexandra, the Honourable Lady Ogilvy
    George VI: none
    Elizabeth II: HRH Princess Beatrice, Mrs Mozzi; HRH Princess Eugenie, Mrs Brooksbank; Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor
    Charles III: HRH Princess Charlotte of Wales, Princess Lilibet of Sussex
    Note that the first three are married and so replace the territorial designation of their father with their title by marriage.

    And the Army has a very sensible rule that they need names that are simple to use with military ranks, so you pretend that the location bit of the title is a surname. So Cornet Harry Wales gets promoted to Lieutenant Harry Wales and later Captain Harry Wales.

    Archie was Earl of Dumbarton at birth, but became Prince Archie of Sussex on the accession of King Charles III. So he would be Archie Sussex in the military, rather than Archie Dumbarton.

  16. Archie was Earl of Dumbarton at birth . . .

    According to the Wikipedia page on him his parents decided against:

    “As heir apparent to his father’s dukedom of Sussex, earldom of Dumbarton, and barony of Kilkeel, Archie was at birth and by custom entitled to use Prince Harry’s senior subsidiary title, Earl of Dumbarton, as a courtesy. However, the media reported that the Duke and Duchess decided, instead, that Archie would be styled as Master Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, in accordance with their reported wish that he grow up as a private citizen.”

    Presumably they changed their minds on the whole private citizen thing when the princedom came along.

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