Introducing the New Prince and Princess: Archie and Lilibet Are Now Using Their Royal Titles
The first picture of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's daughter, Lilibet, that was released Dec 23, 2021. Photo: Alexi Lubomirski/Duke and Duchess of Sussex via Eyepress/Reuters
Could this be the first sign of a rapprochement between the Sussexes of Montecito and Buckingham Palace? This morning, a representative of the Duke and Duchess released a statement to People magazine noting that Lilibet Diana, the couple’s one-year-old daughter, was baptized locally on March 3.
The statement named her as Princess Lilibet, the first time the title has been used. A source from Buckingham Palace has reportedly said that the official palace website would be updated to include the titles for Lilibet and her brother, Archie, numbers seven and six in the line of succession, respectively.
According to People, King Charles, Camilla, Queen Consort, and Prince William and Kate, Princess of Wales, had been invited to the event but did not attend. Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, was on hand, as was Tyler Perry, the baby’s new godfather, who brought a gospel choir along in his private jet to celebrate the occasion in song.
But back to the titles, because this gesture has been hotly debated. Here’s the shorthand version: At birth, Archie and Lilibet were not entitled to the titles Prince and Princess, because they were the great grandchildren of the sovereign. When Charles acceded, they automatically rose in rank, as children born to a male child of the King. The late Queen made an exception to the Letters Patent of 1917 to have Charlotte and Louis, children of Harry’s brother William, named Princess and Prince. The rule is that only the firstborn in the line of succession (George, in this case), is automatically a prince.
The hot debate has been around whether or not Charles would strip the Sussex children of their titles (either to make sense of their parents’ status of non-working royals, or, according to tabloid speculation, in retribution for the Sussexes media campaign). But just in time for the coronation (and notably, now overshadowing all the furor around the “notice to vacate” Frogmore Cottage), we have a peace sign for the first time!
Things were getting very messy. Some good news, and some forward progress, was sorely needed. The Game of Lodges at Windsor — Sussexes out at Frogmore; Andrew out at Royal Lodge and possibly moving into Frogmore; and then the suggestions that 30-bedroom Royal Lodge would be a much better fit for the Wales family. It’s been a tizzy of housekeeping, and potential house swapping, and the whole story was getting mired down in the narrative of ‘Whatever Shall We Do About Prince Andrew?’ The disgraced Duke of York has become a weight around his brother the King’s neck, stubborn to give up the last vestiges of privilege in his 250-pound sterling weekly rental (and reportedly also his Knight of the Garter velvet robes, that the ‘Powers That Be’ are considering banning him from wearing to the coronation).
This announcement today, arriving from the Sussexes’ camp, is a little hint of steadying of the boat. Is it a face-saving gesture that may be enough to compel the couple to come to London for the May 6 coronation? To have denied the Sussex children their birthright titles, the King would have had to issue a new Letters Patent to change the royal rules over who gets to be a blood Prince or Princess.
The Sussexes say they will only use the titles in formal situations, not in everyday use. They stated that they don’t want to deny the children their birthright, but at the same time don’t want them burdened by the titles. To explain the complexities of HRH titles in abeyance and how these are and are not passed down is to get into rather byzantine loops. Further, the rules around who gets security due to titles — something that got very confused around the Oprah interview, with Meghan suggesting Archie didn’t get a title due to his mixed-race heritage, and that she thought the perceived snub might affect his security — well, things were murky. But they are clearer now. They followed the law as written, and both sides are in agreement on something! Anything! Suffice to say, these kids now have a very American take on the titles: useful when needed, but they will go to school unbothered and far from life at court. Let’s hope this will be the first step in at least a ceasefire between Buckingham Palace, the King and his younger son and family.