Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, born Monday, May 6, is entitled to be the Earl of Dumbarton. But when Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex finally announced the royal baby’s name on Wednesday, there was no honorary title in sight.
Archie, who was first introduced to the public Wednesday, is technically supposed to take on his father’s earldom, according to Marlene Koenig, an author and expert on British and European royalty. If the palace confirms that Archie will not be known as an earl, it means one thing: The Duke and Duchess wanted it that way. “This is just their attitude that they want a normal life for their children,” Koenig tells TIME.
If he’s to be known as just Archie, and not Archie, Earl of Dumbarton — which is his father’s subsidiary (honorary) title — it’s another signal that his parents are going to uphold the family’s privacy.
Now the closest to the throne in the male line without a title, it’s likely that Archie, who is seventh in line to the crown, will never have royal engagements, duties or patronages, Koenig says. Even though Queen Elizabeth II is the matriarch and leader of the family, this wasn’t her decision.
“The Queen might not like it, but she’s pretty fair about what her family wants to do,” Koenig says. “She understands that [Harry and Meghan] will want to have a much more normal life.”
It’s not the first move for privacy. In April, after months of speculation on where the Duchess would give birth — popular guesses included Frimley Hospital in Surrey or a home-birth at Frogmore Cottage — the public learned the birth plan would be kept private.
“Their Royal Highnesses have taken a personal decision to keep the plans around the arrival of their baby private,” the royal family said in a statement. “The Duke and Duchess look forward to sharing the exciting news with everyone once they have had an opportunity to celebrate privately as a new family.” Days later, the royal family has not shared with avid royal fans where Meghan chose to give birth.
Katie Nicholl, the author of Harry and Meghan: Life, Loss and Love, says the lack of a royal title “speaks volumes for the future they have planned,” but is also in no way surprising. She went on to say that Duchess’ American nationality has, for its part, already made a positive impact on the monarchy. “The marriage in itself signals change in so many ways,” Nicholl tells TIME. “We’ve seen them re-write the royal script, and I don’t see that ending as they become parents.”
But we can’t pin it all on Meghan Markle, who has used her global platform to raise her voice about feminism. Prince Harry has always made it known that he planned for his children’s privacy, even while he was only dating Meghan. In a 2017 interview with Newsweek, he said that he even liked to do his own grocery shopping. “I am determined to have a relatively normal life,” he said, “and if I am lucky enough to have children, they can have one too.”
Though Archie was only just born, the stage is now set for his life as a royal away from the spotlight. “You’re going to see them on the balcony and things like that, but they’re going to be encouraged to have their own lives,” Koenig says, though it’s likely the Sussex children will “follow in their parents footsteps” through charity work––something both the Duke and Duchess have been passionate about in their work.
From a historical perspective, Koenig, who has been researching the monarchy for decades, feels it’s “disappointing” that the grandchild of a future king (Prince Charles) will not have a royal title of any kind. But this choice is not unprecedented. Princess Anne, Queen Elizabeth’s daughter, opted for her children not to hold the titles they could have had, Nicholl explains. Zara and Peter Phillips, her children with her first husband, Mark Phillips, bear no royal titles at all. In royal press releases, their names are styled as any other commoners’.
The Duke and Duchess’ apparent decision to keep Archie as a more private royal is also something the monarchy has actually been moving toward. In the 1990s, there was a big push for a smaller monarchy, Koenig says, and Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie of York––the children of Queen Elizabeth’s second son, Prince Andrew––became “the first blood princess to not be working royals.”
However, despite his lack of title, Archie will always be entitled to the earldom.
And when Prince Harry passes on his title at his death, Archie, being the first-born son, will automatically become the Duke of Sussex. Still, that ruling could change when Prince Charles—often credited as a royal in favor of keeping the monarchy small—becomes king, Koenig says.
As with all royals, the world will wait to see what they do with their positions—whether Archie’s name is styled as an earl or not.
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