Royal Roundup: Titles, Houses, & the Coronation

Embed from Getty Images

Real Estate

Let’s start by picking up where we left off – the game of royal residence monopoly. Two weeks ago, the big news was that The Duke and Duchess of Sussex confirmed that they had been asked to vacate Frogmore Cottage, their UK base on the Windsor grounds. Rumors were then rife that the home would be taken over by Harry’s uncle, The Duke of York, while his current residence of Royal Lodge, also on Windsor grounds, would be filled by The Prince and Princess of Wales.

To-date, there hasn’t been official confirmation of any of this; however, it’s widely reported that Andrew is resisting the move into Frogmore, likely because it goes hand-in-hand with a cut in his allowance from his brother, King Charles III. Without those funds, upkeep of the massive Royal Lodge will be much harder, if not impossible. Likewise, if the King is keen to cut costs, moving Andrew from Royal Lodge to Frogmore will considerably cut down on the security funds currently allocated to the duke.

Assuming Andrew does eventually downgrade to Frogmore, it still remains to be seen whether William and Catherine will leave the four-bedroom Adelaide Cottage for Royal Lodge. Some reports note that plans for the Waleses to take over the York residence have been in the works since prior to Queen Elizabeth’s death; others state that the couple are perfectly happy in their smaller house and have no immediate plans to leave.

We’ll see. So long as Andrew remains at Royal Lodge, we’re in a bit of a holding pattern, and while the timing of everything remains in the air, rumor has it that Harry and Meghan have been giving a little breathing room to pack up the rest of their belongings at Frogmore.

The Coronation

Which brings us to our next topic: the coronation. As expected, Harry and Meghan have been invited to the May 6 event, which, coincidentally, coincides with the fourth birthday of their son, Prince Archie (more on *that* in a moment). Thus far, Sussex spokespeople have refused to confirm whether or not the couple plans to attend. We know from media interviews Harry gave back in January that he believes the Royal Family owe him – or at least his wife – an apology. More explicitly, Harry stated that his attendance *might* be conditional to receiving that apology.

It stands to reason that apology hasn’t been given.

So, what will the Sussexes do? That remains to be seen, but I will say this: 1) my money is on them attending and 2) if they didn’t attend, I would respect that decision a lot.

After all, if you want to stand for something, then actually stand for it.

“Friends” of the Sussexes have told news outlets that the couple have no information on whether their children will be included in the ceremony. In return, a “royal source” told The Telegraph that the children’s involvement would be discussed once Harry and Meghan confirmed their own attendance.

So, around and around we go.

Further anonymous sources have been quoted as saying no one in the family wants them to attend, and that if they do, the hope is that they’re seated in “Iceland” (seats far away from the action).

Now, all of that sounds rather unpleasant, but consider what Harry has had to say about all of them. In Spare alone, his father and brother were criticized for being jealous, cold, and trapped in loveless marriages for a job they don’t really want. His stepmother was accused of leaking personal information about the family to amplify her own reputation. His stepbrother, a private citizen, was called out for his drug use during his youth. His great-aunt (Princess Margaret) was accused of being a snob who gave bad presents (her children and grandchildren are very much alive). Andrew was held up as a comparison of a royal who deserved security less than him (his daughters, ex-wife, and sons-in-law are very much in the mix). He stated that the Royal Family stopped growing by the time of Diana, Princess of Wales’s death, when in fact the Wessex children had yet to be born. Each and every member of staff thrown under the bus has spouses, siblings, children, grandchildren, and friends. And that’s what I can remember off the top of my head.

My point being, at the very least, the hurt goes both ways by now. Even if we take the facts offered in Spare as gospel, no one is wearing a white hat. And only one side is holding themselves up in the image of self-righteous indignation.

As for the Sussex children’s involvement – that’s unlikely. Not because of their parents, but because of their ages. We have it on good authority that Prince George will play a role in the ceremony. And it stands to reason that Princess Charlotte will at least attend, even if she plays a different role. We have also learned that Queen Camilla’s grandchildren via her first marriage will be highlighted. Prince Louis and the Sussex children, on the other hand, are probably a little young to put up with an event of that length and gravity.


On the eve of Prince Edward’s birthday (Friday, March 10), King Charles finally announced the elevation of his brother to Duke of Edinburgh. Accordingly, his wife, Sophie, is now Duchess of Edinburgh. Their son, James, once styled Viscount Severn, is now Earl of Wessex.

This elevation has been decades in the making – it was announced at the time of Edward’s 1999 wedding to Sophie that it was his father’s (Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh) wish that his youngest son “inherited” his title. Later on we learned that Philip had once considered it for Andrew, but he was given the York title quickly around the time of his own marriage in 1986. Thus, Edward was the last chance.

Significantly, when Philip was given the title in 1947 it was a hereditary one, which means that Philip was able to pass it on to his eldest son. His eldest son, of course, is the King, not Edward. As such, when Philip died in 2021, the title was inherited by King Charles, who already held the loftier title of Prince of Wales. When the King ascended the throne last year, the title re-merged with the crown. Therefore, Edward’s elevation is a new creation of the title. He didn’t technically “inherit” it from his father. He was bequeathed it by his brother.

Even more significantly, the creation for Edward is not a hereditary title, which means that he will hold the title Duke of Edinburgh during his lifetime, but his son, James, will not be able to inherit it. Right now, he is styled “Earl of Wessex” as a courtesy – his father remains the actual earl.

Much like the conversation about the Sussex children over the last two years, this has nothing to do with James or King Charles in some way spiting his young nephew. Obviously. It has to do with two things: 1) the King is highly conscious of the optics of creating new lines of grand, royal adjacent titles and 2) this is likely in line with how Edward and Sophie are choosing to raise their children.

The comparison between the Edinburghs and the Sussexes is actually fascinating. Much like Archie and Lili now, James and his sister, Louise, have been a prince and princess since birth, as grandchildren of a monarch (Queen Elizabeth). However, Edward and Sophie opted not to use those titles for their children based on an understanding that their children would never serve as full-time working royals. Instead, they would be expected to pursue professional work and those titles would be a constant hindrance (a security risk, a draw for unwanted media attention, and driver of questions over whether they were “trading off” their titles, to name but a few).

As we have discussed many times before, at the time of Archie’s birth, Queen Elizabeth was still alive, and he wasn’t legally a prince. (And as a refresher, George was always going to be “Prince George” because he was the eldest son of the eldest son, etc. William’s younger children were given a legal exception likely for the sake of consistency and to avoid confusion with the 21st century media and public.) However, Archie did have a right to be called Earl of Dumbarton, much like James is now called Earl of Wessex. Harry and Meghan chose to forgo that route.

At the time, our understanding was that Harry and Meghan – who had spoken publicly about privacy – were taking steps to protect their children and preparing them for lives of minor royals who didn’t publicly work on behalf of the monarch. And I respected that. It aligned with how Harry had spoken about this life – and indeed, continues to – that he would work hard to make sure his son was given a greater level of freedom than he had been granted as the son of The Prince of Wales.

Not so much. Instead, Archie and Lili are in fact to be styled Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet. We learned this via People Magazine, an American tabloid, thanks to a Sussex spokesperson who announced that Lili’s christening had taken place in California. It was further noted that the King, Camilla, William, and Catherine had all been invited, but didn’t attend. In contrast, a few members from Harry’s Spencer side of the family did make the trip.

The guidance provided from the Sussex camp is that while the titles won’t be in use every day, they will be used for “formal occasions.” What formal occasions, you might ask? After all, these children live in Montecito, a city in a state in a country that fought an entire revolution to reject hereditary titles and the type of government they represent. No doubt, they mean royal occasions. But how many of those will they possibly be invited to after this coronation? My guess is not very many, if at all.

It’s possible that Archie and Lili will eventually be featured in more public appearances alongside their parents for Archewell-related work, but that would be another mind-numbing level of hypocrisy from Harry, who has criticized his parents (but really, his father) and the Royal Family for parading William and him before the cameras as children.

So, why? Why are these children being saddled with these titles? The simplest answer is that, yes, it’s their birthright. But it signifies a life and a family that Harry and Meghan have rejected and criticized, in turn. The more honest answer is that it’s in keeping with how the Sussexes have played this from the jump – they have always wanted to be royal. They have always been image and status conscious. Their ties – public and private – to the Royal Family are how they make their living.

And so, I would argue that by publicizing news of his daughter’s private christening in People Magazine of all places, Harry has never been more like his oft-lambasted father.


How the news of Archie and Lilie’s titles played out has drawn opposing views. Some view it as a victory over the King, others as the King giving Harry and Meghan enough rope to hang themselves (in other words, they’ve demonstrated their hypocrisy).

The former argument is that the news was announced on the Sussexes’ terms, shortly after news broke about Frogmore. When the Palace was contacted for comment, they eventually conceded that they had no problem with the move, had been expecting it, and had plans to update the Royal Family’s website accordingly. Indeed, they eventually did. But they looked blindsided.

My guess is that the Palace had known the Sussexes’ intentions but had no desire to make it public for the time being. And my guess for that is that 1) some of this may have been based on whether or not Harry and Meghan were going to attend the coronation and 2) the Palace is still waiting for the dust to settle on the memoir and documentary.

Sussex critics argue that King Charles should have acted more forcefully on this matter, taking the decision out of Harry and Meghan’s hands.

I’ve gone back and forth on this – I think it’s a mistake that Archie and Lili are prince and princess and I also think the King didn’t have a great option here. The optics aren’t ideal for him to deprive his grandchildren of anything given the current tenor of the conversation. Nor are they ideal to do so to the only biracial blood family members.

There’s been comparisons made to the situation in Denmark with Queen Margrethe, but I think that’s a false equivalency for a few reasons (that I’ll put in a pin for now).

And the end result doesn’t do much except further entrench each camp in their positions – Sussex critics think they look even more hypocritical and Sussex fans are crowing that the Windsors can’t “take away” the Sussexes’ due. In reality, it just doesn’t mean that much.

Where this will actually get interesting is in a few years down the road. Archie and Lili are going to essentially be Americans with little to no ties to their royal relations. Unless something radical happens, they will be little more than strangers to William and Catherine, who will be king and queen around the time that the Sussex kids are launching their careers. If they present themselves as a threat to the Windsors by trading on their titles or attempting to parlay themselves into an American court – with potentially more popularity than their problematic parents – that could be a very real issue. And it’s one that William, and then George, will have to deal with.

Where William Stands

If that happens, William won’t have the same parental hesitation that the King does. It’s been reported that William was very much in the loop on Harry’s “eviction” from Frogmore and agreed with it. Furthermore, this quote from an “old friend” of William and Harry’s who has remained close to the former and not the latter has said this to a reporter:

“William won’t shed a tear if Harry doesn’t make it [to the coronation]. He feels utterly betrayed by Harry. Relations have never been this bad, and he hates him for what he has done to the family in the books and interviews. He will support whatever decision his dad makes but it’s no secret he would prefer it if he wasn’t there, or, indeed, never stepped foot in England again.”

We’ve talked a little in recent months about how outlets are briefed and use of anonymous sources. It’s also been a hot topic of royal conversation thanks to Harry. So, let’s be very clear – this is nearly as good as a statement from William himself. This is as close as we’re going to get to a public comment on his relationship with Harry for a good while. No, *he* didn’t say this to a reporter, but this quote wouldn’t have been made if it wasn’t based in truth and tacitly agreed with.

If you’re still wondering if there’s a path forward for the brothers, the answer right now is no. I’d be surprised if that ever changes.

Curtsying to Meghan

Last but not least, there’s a silly story making the rounds that Sophie is “relieved” that now that she is also a duchess, she won’t have to curtsy to Meghan anymore. This is false. Sophie never had to curtsy to Meghan. HRHs (members of the Royal Family with the styling His/Her Royal Highness) don’t bow or curtsy to each other. They bow and curtsy only to kings and queens.

Articles like this are annoying because they 1) feed into the narrative that Meghan is unfairly bullied the British tabloids, 2) accuse Sophie of a level of pettiness based in a lie, and 3) are wholly ignorant of how this all actually works.

There is enough royal gossip in the ether right now, we simply don’t have to make it up.

With that, I’ll sign off for the day.

4 thoughts on “Royal Roundup: Titles, Houses, & the Coronation

  1. Anonymous

    Lol, William won’t shed a tear for Harry…I think Harry made it pretty darn clear how he feels about Will and Kate. And if KC3 doesn’t want Harry and his family at his Coronation, then don’t invite him. Make a statement that “Harry and his family wouldn’t accept racial implications or court jester roles so we find it better they watch the coronation on the Telly”.

    1. I don’t know why William would at this point. I would assume that the King’s preference is that both his sons attend, albeit with some nervousness over the Sussex drama that will play out in the media. As for that “statement” – please, the idea that M&H were treated like court jesters is ridiculous. They had serious roles and responsibilities in the Commomwealth, military, and royal patronages.

  2. LEW

    Well thought out as ever Rebecca! My main take from recent events is being pleased Edward was made DoE. He (and Sophie) deserve the recognition and I also think it reverting to Crown eventually is the right move and in line with the slimlining plan

    Also think Charles had handled the Archie and Lilibet title situation as well as he can, the less bad of two options in the circumstances. I however don’t think Harry and Meghan have. If they had done what Anne did, or pushed it down the road like Edward and Sophie, I would have more respect for them. I can’t honestly see how it benefits those children in the short term and seems so very much at odds with recent outpourings.One thing I feel strongly is that it is true that William feels betrayed and is very, very angry. I don’t blame him and sadly, I can’t see it changing anytime soon.

    The Coronation? I’m more interested in little Louis being there than the Sussexes. There are pictures of the bored 4 year old Charles at the late Queen’s. This one is going to be much shorter apparently and I’m sure he can be persuaded not to play football with the orb in the Abbey aisle for an hour. Possibly.

  3. Tilly

    Re the Christening, Charles Spencer has shared a story to his Instagram account with a photo of the Spencer siblings dining together. There is a faint date stamp in the corner of the photo. It seems Earl Spencer posted this because of Omid Scobie released the story Lady Jane and Lady Sarah attended the Christening and it was spreading like wild fire.

    As for the house moves, I get the feeling that Wales’ are quite happy at Adelaide Cottage, without any live-in help. I’m sure Catherine especially appreciates being able to share with William the simplicity of it just being the 5 of them and, it is very reminiscent of her childhood with her parents and siblings. I agree, Andrew certainly doesn’t need anything as large as Royal Lodge, you could argue he’d be better off somewhere much smaller like one of the cottages at Sandringham maybe although I’m not sure if Charles would be able to get him to agree to pay rent if they moved him there. A cottage at KP would be too public. Either way, I think we’re going to be seeing the end of grace and favour accommodation for non-working royals.

Leave a Reply