Just a few hours before the royal wedding, Buckingham Palace announced that Queen Elizabeth II had bestowed three titles on her grandson, Prince Harry. His bride, Meghan Markle, will be known as Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Sussex after today’s ceremony.
“The Queen has today been pleased to confer a Dukedom on Prince Henry of Wales. His titles will be Duke of Sussex, Earl of Dumbarton and Baron Kilkeel,” a Buckingham Palace spokesperson said. “Prince Harry thus becomes His Royal Highness The Duke of Sussex, and Ms. Meghan Markle on marriage will become Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex.”
The previous Duke of Sussex was married twice, but neither marriage was approved by his father. As such, they were considered unlawful. And so, Meghan is the first Duchess of Sussex.
Marking another first, no monarch has ever granted the title Kilkeel until today. Kilkeel is a fishing town on the coast of County Down, below the Mourne Mountains in Northern Ireland.
It is customary for members of the Royal Family to be offered at least one title by the monarch upon marriage. The titles, ranked from highest to lowest are: duke, marquess, earl, viscount, and baron for men; and duchess, marchioness, countess, viscountess, and baroness for women.
If the 33-year-old prince had turned down the title, he would’ve remained HRH Prince Harry of Wales. His 36-year-old bride would have likely been known as HRH Princess Harry of Wales, rather than HRH Princess Meghan, since the former actress is not a princess in her own right.
The Duke of Sussex was widley seen as the most likely choice for Harry, but other possibilities were the dukedoms of Albany, Clarence, Connaught, Cumberland and Teviotdale, and Windsor.
Prince William and Kate Middleton received their titles before their 2011 wedding. “The Queen has today been pleased to confer a Dukedom on Prince William of Wales. His titles will be Duke of Cambridge, Earl of Strathearn and Baron Carrickfergus,” Buckingham Palace said at the time. “Prince William thus becomes His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge and Miss Catherine Middleton on marriage will become Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge.”