Today is a “day of rest” for Charles III and Queen Camilla after a whirlwind six days overseeing the accession and the beginning of Queen Elizabeth’s funeral procession. After yesterday’s service, the King retired to Highgrove in Gloucestershire, while the Queen went to the estate in Wiltshire she’s owned since prior to her marriage into the Royal Family.
However, tomorrow, the couple will be in Cardiff, marking the final stop of their lightning tour of the UK prior to Monday’s funeral. And while they take a well-deserved breather, the other working royals are elsewhere in England to receive condolences and acknowledge the public loss.
The Prince and Princess of Wales are in Norfolk today, viewing the flowers left of the gates of Sandringham.
During a walkabout, Catherine told one well-wisher that while Prince George understands the significance of the loss, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis don’t quite the grasp the full weight.
William told another that yesterday’s procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall had reminded him of his mother’s 1997 funeral.
The Princess Royal and Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence are in Glasgow carrying out the same type of engagement…
While The Earl and Countess of Wessex are in Manchester.
Meanwhile, in Sussex land, The Sun is reporting that the King *will* make Archie and Lili a prince and princess via letters patent, but because neither they nor their parents will ever carry out engagements on behalf of the King, they will not equipped with a HRH. Harry and Meghan are described as having been “relentless” about the topic since Queen Elizabeth’s death.
There are a couple possibilities here – this idea is being floated by the Palace to gauge public reaction. The King is in a bit of a damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t situation. If Archie and Lili remain Master and Miss, there will be those corners of the public who continue believing the narrative put forth by the Sussexes last year that this decision is racially motivated. And if he does, there will be an outcry from those who believe the Sussexes have insulted the UK and the Royal Family, and don’t believe British titles should be further extended to a family choosing to live in California.
Before I weigh in here, I have to admit that my understanding of all of this is that the King doesn’t have to issue letters patent to make Archie and Lili and prince and princess. That, essentially, as grandchildren of the monarch descended through a male line, they *are*. However, in the same way that the Wessex children are Lord and Lady, not Prince and Princess, the style is simply not being used. This is all via the 1917 letters patent from George V, however in those conversations, the 2012 letters patent issued by Queen Elizabeth also gets brought up. In that, she specified, among other things, that William and Catherine’s younger children would be princes/princesses from birth – without that letters patent, only George would have been styled prince until now.
[Update: Ok, I double-checked myself here and yes, the above is correct. No new letters patent are needed. In theory, the King could issue new letters patent that specifically *deprive* his grandchildren of the right to prince/princess, but it would be a weird, unnecessary move. So long as the Royal Family continues to list them in the line of succession as Master/Miss, it would be incredibly bizarre for the Sussexes to use any other styling.]
There are two lenses through which to look at this – that the exclusion of Harry at that time was because Queen Elizabeth and then-Prince Charles had long decided that Harry’s children wouldn’t be royal based on the precedent set by Queen Elizabeth’s other royal grandchildren via her younger children OR that Harry’s absence meant nothing at all. It was presumed the matter would be rectified by the accession and wasn’t worth addressing in 2012.
However, those aren’t the issues that are potentially keeping Harry and Meghan up at night, if they do actually care about this. To jump back to 2019, at the time of Archie’s birth, it was announced that he would only be “Master Archie,” not the Earl of Dumbarton, which is a subsidiary title of Harry’s that Archie could use if his parents so chose. They stated that they wanted Archie to have a private life and as such, he would be forgoing an earldom. It remained up in the air whether they expected Archie to inherit Harry’s dukedom, but presumably. Flash forward two years, and Meghan says that Archie’s lack of “prince” styling came as a surprise and she believed it came down to Windsor racism. Furthermore, she indicated that their decision to keep the birth and christening private came down to their displeasure over the lack of honor bestowed on Archie, which they believed put him at risk (security, etc.) I’ve fact-checked this before, so I’m not going to do it again, but…no.
So, now, today – whether or not you believe the reports about the Sussexes wanting their children to be a prince/princess comes down to how you feel about their integrity, really. If you are in the camp that believes they’re purposefully milking their royal connections for commercial gain, then it stands to reason it bolsters their profile to have a prince/princess for children. It also beggars belief, since weighing Archie and Lili down with those titles in the United States is essentially tying a millstone around both their necks – the same millstone Harry has criticized for years, even before leaving the Royal Family. If he wants that for his children, knowing the royal limbo in which his family now lives, then it’s hard for me to take seriously anything else he says about the safety and health of his family.
From the King’s perspective, it’s possible he thinks green-lighting the use of prince/princess without a HRH is a middle ground. I sincerely hope that he doesn’t go this route. It’s a complicated issue, to be sure, both publicly and privately, and it’s entirely possible it’s being used as leverage for a reconciliation. But here’s the thing – reconciliation with Harry is helpful to the Royal Family in the medium-term, ensuring there aren’t two relatives using senior British royal stylings while pursuing an American life in the spotlight is a long-term threat. The Sussexes have made it so.