Meghan Markle’s bombshell suggestion that her son Archie was banned from being a prince amid concerns over how ‘dark’ he would be appear to be refuted by rules laid down by King George V.
In her interview with Oprah Winfrey, which aired last night and was watched by 17million Americans, the Duchess of Sussex sensationally claimed that a relative of Harry asked him ‘how dark’ their unborn child would be and alleged that Archie being mixed-race was a ‘problem’ for the royals.
Meghan refused to say which royal had the conversation with Harry about Archie’s skin colour, claiming it would be ‘damaging’ to the person in her husband’s family who raised it.
She also described her ‘pain’ that officials had denied Archie the title of prince and accused Buckingham Palace of failing to protect him by denying him 24/7 security.
Meghan said Archie becoming a Prince was neither her nor Harry’s ‘decision to make’ and said it was palace officials who revealed Archie ‘wasn’t going to receive security’.
When asked if it was ‘important’ for Meghan that Archie be called a prince, she said she doesn’t have any attachment to the ‘grandeur’ of official titles.
But she said it was about ‘the idea of our son not being safe, and also the idea of the first member of colour in this family not being titled in the same way that other grandchildren would be.’
However, in 1917, King George V – the Queen’s grandfather – issued a written order ruling that only royal offspring who are in the direct line of succession could be made a prince or princess and receive titles of His or Her Royal Highness (HRH).
The Letters Patent read: ‘…the grandchildren of the sons of any such sovereign in the direct male line (save only the eldest living son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales) shall have and enjoy in all occasions the style and title enjoyed by the children of dukes of these our realms.’
Under the rules, only Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge’s eldest son Prince George – as a great-grandson of the monarch down the direct line of succession to the throne – was originally entitled to be a prince.
The Queen stepped in ahead of George’s birth in 2013 to issue a Letters Patent to ensure all George’s siblings – as the children of future monarch William – would have fitting titles.
Under the George V rules, Archie would still be entitled to be an HRH or a prince when his grandfather Charles, the Prince of Wales, accedes to the throne.
Prince Andrew’s daughters, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, have royal titles because their father is a son of the monarch, constitutional expert Craig Prescott told MailOnline.
Meghan Markle’s bombshell claim that her son Archie was banned from being a prince because of concerns over how ‘dark’ he would be appear to be refuted by rules laid down by King George V
In 1917, the then King issued a written order ruling that only grandchildren of the monarch who are in the direct line of succession could be made a prince
Meghan had told Miss Winfrey that it was ‘a pretty safe’ assumption to suggest that the royal family member was ‘concerned’ that Archie being ‘too brown’ was ‘a problem’.
Prince Harry – who later joined his wife and Miss Winfrey for the last part of the interview – described the conversation with his family member about Archie as ‘awkward’, saying it left him ‘shocked’.
But he declined to reveal anything more about what was said, saying: ‘That conversation I’m never going to share.’
What is the George V convention?
In 1917, the Queen’s grandfather issued new letters patent that limited the number of royal family members with an HRH title.
These stated that ‘the children of any Sovereign of these Realms and the children of the sons of any such Sovereign and the eldest living son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales shall have and at all times hold and enjoy the style, title or attribute of Royal Highness with their titular dignity of Prince or Princess prefixed to their respective Christian names or with their other titles of honour’.
In 1917, the Queen’s grandfather issued new letters patent that limited the number of royal family members with an HRH title
This means that when Prince Charles become King, his grandchildren – including Archie – will all automatically become princes or princesses.
It was also decreed that ‘grandchildren of the sons of any such Sovereign in the direct male line … shall have and enjoy in all occasions the style and title enjoyed by the children of Dukes of these Our Realms’ (i.e., Lord or Lady before their Christian name).’
In addition the letters stated ‘save as aforesaid the style title or attribute of Royal Highness, Highness or Serene Highness and the titular dignity of Prince or Princess shall not henceforth be assumed or borne by any descendant of any Sovereign of these Realms.
Oprah had asked Meghan if Archie was denied the title of Prince because he is of mixed-race, asking if the palace had concerns Archie would be ‘too brown’.
Meghan said: ‘In those months when I was pregnant, all around this same time, we have in tandem, the conversation of “He won’t be given security, he’s not going to be given a title,” and also concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born.’
Oprah then interrupted and said: ‘Hold on. Hold up. Stop right now. There’s a conversation… about how dark your baby is going to be?’
Meghan replied: ‘Potentially, and what that would mean or look like’.
‘And you’re not going to tell me who had the conversation?’, Oprah asked.
Meghan replied: ‘I think that would be very damaging to them. That was relayed to me from Harry. Those were conversations that family had with him’.
Oprah asked: ‘Because they were concerned that if he were too brown, that that would be a problem? Are you saying that?’
Meghan replied: ‘I wasn’t able to follow up with why, but if that’s the assumption you’re making, I think that feels like a pretty safe one, which was really hard to understand, right?’
Oprah then asked Prince Harry about the conversation, saying: ‘Well, what is particularly striking is what Meghan shared with us earlier, is that no one wants to admit that there’s anything about race or that race has played a role in the trolling and the vitriol, and yet Meghan shared with us that there was a conversation with you about Archie’s skin tone.
‘What was that conversation?’
Prince Harry replied: ‘That conversation I’m never going to share, but at the time, it was awkward.
‘I was a bit shocked.’
Oprah asked him if he can reveal what the conversation was about. Harry refused to divulge, saying: ‘I’m not comfortable with sharing that.’
He added: ‘But that was right at the beginning, when she wasn’t going to get security, when members of my family were suggesting that she carries on acting, because there was not enough money to pay for her, and all this sort of stuff.
‘Like, there was some real obvious signs before we even got married that this was going to be really hard.’
Constitutional expert Craig Prescott today outlined the George V convention to MailOnline.
He said: ‘The Letters Patent of 1917 established the practice that sons and daughters of the monarch, and those whose father is a son of the monarch are entitled to be called Prince.
‘The Queen issued further Letters Patent in 2012 so that all children of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge would become Princes or Princesses, because one day, they will be children of a future monarch.
‘The Queen could have made the same decision for the children of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.’
Prince Charles is said to have long had a desire to have a ‘slimmed-down’ Royal Family, with a greater focus on the direct line of succession.
Mr Prescott added that it was this that made it ‘always’ unlikely that Archie would have a major role as a royal.
He added: ‘It’s notable that the Sussexes have decided not to use the title Earl of Dumbarton, for Archie, which they could have done.
‘However, once Charles becomes King, Archie, if he wished could then be given the title of HRH and Prince.’
The George V rules also explain why Zara Tindall and her brother Peter Phillips, as the children of the Queen’s only daughter Princess Anne, do not have royal titles – because their father Mark Phillips is not the son of a monarch.
Zara’s children, Mia Grace, seven, and Lena Elizabeth, two, also do not have royal titles.
The convention should mean that the children of Prince Edward, the Queen’s youngest son, should also have HRH titles and be called prince and princess.
However, Lady Louise Windsor, 17, and James, Viscount Severn, do not have them.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have insisted their interview with Oprah Winfrey would be the ‘last word’ on them quitting as senior royals
Meghan Markle has told Oprah Winfrey that she was suicidal when she was part of the Royal Family living in the UK and told her husband: ‘I don’t want to be alive anymore’
This is because the Queen decided, with the consent of Edward and his wife Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, that their children would not be given HRH titles.
Instead, they would be styled as children of an Earl.
The main bombshells from the Oprah interview
– Meghan’s mental health
The Duchess of Sussex revealed she had suicidal thoughts and said: ‘I just didn’t want to be alive any more.’
She said she begged for help, and asked to go somewhere to get help, and approached one of the most senior people in the institution, but was told it would not look good.
The duchess said: ‘I said that I needed to go somewhere to get help. I said that I’ve never felt this way before and I need to go somewhere. And I was told that I couldn’t, that it wouldn’t be good for the institution.’
– Baby Sussex is a girl
Harry and Meghan revealed they are expecting a baby girl.
The duke joined his wife in the second half of the interview, and told the chat show host: ‘It’s a girl.’
He said his first thought was ‘amazing’ when he discovered they were having a girl, adding: ‘Just grateful. To have any child, any one or any two, would have been amazing.
‘But to have a boy and then a girl, I mean what more can you ask for? Now we’ve got our family, we got the four of us and our two dogs.’
Asked if they were ‘done’ with two children, Harry said ‘done’ and Meghan said: ‘Two is it.’
She also confirmed the baby is due in the ‘summertime’.
– Royal family accused of racism
Meghan said, when she was pregnant with Archie, an unnamed member of the royal family raised ‘concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born’.
Asked whether there were concerns that her child would be ‘too brown’ and that would be a problem, Meghan said: ‘If that is the assumption you are making, that is a pretty safe one.’
Pushed by Winfrey on who had those conversations, Meghan refused to say, adding: ‘I think that would be very damaging to them.’
She added: ‘That was relayed to me from Harry, those were conversations the family had with him, and I think it was really hard to be able to see those as compartmentalised conversations.’
– Archie’s title
Meghan suggested she and Harry wanted Archie to be a prince so he would have security and be protected.
The duchess expressed her shock at ‘the idea of our son not being safe’, and the idea of the first member of colour in this family, not being titled in the same way as other grandchildren.
Archie, who is seventh in line to the throne, is not entitled to be an HRH or a prince due to rules set out more than 100 years ago by King George V.
He will be entitled to be an HRH or a prince when the Prince of Wales accedes to the throne.
As the first born son of a duke, Archie could have become Earl of Dumbarton – one of Harry’s subsidiary titles – or have been Lord Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, instead at the time of his birth, a royal source said Harry and Meghan had decided he should a regular Master Archie Mountbatten-Windsor.
– The Prince of Wales
The Duke of Sussex said his father the Prince of Wales stopped taking his calls while Harry and Meghan were in Canada ‘because I took matters into my own hands. I needed to do this for my family’.
He said Charles wanted him to put his plans in writing.
– The Queen
Harry denied that he had ‘blindsided’ his grandmother Queen with the bombshell statement about stepping down as senior royal.
The duke said he believed the report probably could have come from ‘within the institution’.
– The Duchess of Cambridge
Meghan said Kate made her cry ahead of her wedding.
Reports circulated ahead of the Sussexes’ nuptials that Meghan left Kate in tears at Princess Charlotte’s bridesmaid dress fitting.
But Meghan told Winfrey the ‘reverse happened’.
Meghan said she was not sharing the information to be ‘disparaging’, but added it was ‘really important for people to understand the truth’.
‘She’s a good person,’ the duchess added
This makes Lady Louise and Viscount Severn the first male-line descendants of the Queen the first to not have royal titles.
The move by the Queen to issue new letters patent in 2012 meant that Prince William’s other children, Princess Charlotte, aged five, and Prince Louis, two, received titles.
Princess Charlotte would have been a Lady and Prince Louis a Lord had the Queen not intervened, and they would have not been HRHs.
But they are the children of a future monarch, whereas Archie is not, and he will move down the line of succession if the Cambridge children have their own families.
Other title options were open to Harry and Meghan.
As the first-born son of a duke, Archie could have become Earl of Dumbarton – one of Harry’s subsidiary titles – or Lord Archie Mountbatten-Windsor.
Eventually Archie will also be entitled to succeed Harry as the Duke of Sussex.
The claim made by Meghan also differs from comments made by a royal source at the time of Archie’s birth that the couple had decided he should be a regular Master Archie Mountbatten-Windsor.
Harry had always stressed the importance of wanting to be seen as normal, and he was thought to have wanted to give his baby the opportunities of an ordinary life that he never had, without the burden of being a prince.
But Meghan said in her interview with Ms Winfrey this was not correct, adding: ‘It was not our decision to make.’
She said titles can lead to ‘from my experience, a lot of pain’.
But added: ‘I wouldn’t wish pain on my child but that is their birthright to then make a choice about.’
Asked if Archie being a prince was important to her, she replied: ‘If it meant he was going to be safe then of course.’
She said she was not interested in the grandeur and she had been a waitress, an actress, a princess, a duchess, but added ‘I’ve always just told them Meghan.’
‘The most important title I will ever have is Mom,’ she added.
In last night’s interview, Meghan also tearfully revealed that the stress of royal life made her suicidal and said Kate Middleton made her cry before she married Harry.
The couple also chose to reveal that they are having a baby girl to the tens of millions of people watching the CBS show broadcast in the US.
The Queen is not believed to have watched the show, broadcast at 8pm Eastern Time in the US and 1am UK time, but was briefed by aides this morning on the sensational claims made by her grandson and his wife that could badly damage the reputation of the Royal Family around the globe.
The Duchess of Sussex told Oprah she ‘couldn’t be left alone’ and told her husband she ‘didn’t want to be alive anymore’ before claiming the Buckingham Palace HR department ignored her plea for help because she wasn’t a ‘paid employee’.
Describing how she considered ending her life believing it ‘was better for everyone’, Meghan said: ‘I knew that if I didn’t say it, that I would do it. I just didn’t want to be alive anymore.
‘And that was a very clear and real and frightening constant thought. I remember how he just cradled me. I said that I needed to go somewhere to get help.
‘I said that “I’ve never felt this way before, and I need to go somewhere”. And I was told that I couldn’t, that it wouldn’t be good for the institution’.
She said that after confiding in her husband, she was forced to go to the Royal Albert Hall for a charity event in January 2019, claiming photos from that night ‘haunt me’.
She told Oprah she later reached out to one of the best friends of Diana, Princess of Wales, because she felt unsupported by the palace.
She said: ‘When I joined that family, that was the last time I saw my passport, my driving licence, my keys – all of that gets turned over’. Meghan said Harry had ‘saved my life’ by agreeing to move to Los Angeles.
In the most extraordinary royal interview since Diana spoke to the BBC’s Martin Bashir in 1995, Meghan said her sister-in-law Kate made her cry in a row over dresses for the flowergirls, including Princess Charlotte, before her Windsor wedding.
She said: ‘She (Kate) was upset about something, but she owned it, and she apologised. And she brought me flowers’.
Harry also laid into his own family, claiming their ‘lack of support and understanding’, the couple’s mental health problems and fears ‘history repeating itself’ with Meghan like his mother Diana, who died in 1997.
Harry also said he felt ‘very let down’ by his father Prince Charles, accusing him of refusing to take his calls and and then ‘cut him off’ financially when they emigrated.
He said: ‘My father and brother. They’re both trapped’ and added that his mother Diana would be ‘angry and sad’ that he felt he had to leave the royal family, but ‘she saw it coming’. Harry said: ‘All she’d ever want for us is to be happy’, adding that his wife had ‘saved me’, declaring: ‘I myself was trapped, as well. I didn’t see a way out’.