In May 2018, Buckingham Palace announced the Queen was “pleased” to grant Prince Harry a new title, which would then extend to Meghan Markle “on marriage”. The announcement read: “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.”
However, when the Duke and Duchess of Sussex stepped back from Royal Family duties in January 2020, their disentanglement from the Royal Family included giving up certain titles that came with Firm duties.
They no longer go by the HRH titles, but have maintained their use of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex name.
This may be down to the Queen’s inability to take back such titles from Meghan and Harry once they have been granted, unlike the HRH title, a constitutional expert has told Express.co.uk.
Dr Bob Morris described how the Duke and Duchess of Sussex titles “have a special condition – that is, they can’t be removed unless there’s an Act of Parliament”.
Dr Morris, of the Constitution Unit at University College London, said the “HRH Queen powerless to strip Meghan and Harry of Sussex titles due to 'special condition' can be given or taken away by the monarch of the day”, but once a Duke or Duchess title is conferred, “it would require an Act of Parliament to remove the title”.
However, just because the Duke and Duchess of Sussex retain this title, does not dictate they must continue to use it.
Prince Harry and Meghan have attracted criticism for continuing to use the titles across the Atlantic for the life they have carved out away from the Royal Family back in the UK.
Royal expert Professor Cele Otnes told Express.co.uk that by using the Sussex title outside the Royal Family, it becomes a “meaningless” gesture that confuses the public.
READ MORE: Prince Harry memoir: Duke ‘fed up’ William ‘always has it better’
“It’s a nickname you give yourself.”
Without the clarity of what the titles actually mean, behind merely possessing them, using them comes across as an “empty gesture”, she claimed.
Professor Otnes continued: “They get some superficial benefit from it.
“But if you aren’t a Royal Highness, what does it mean?”
Dr Morris added that possessing the title and choosing to use it, were two separate issues, despite Prince Harry and Meghan being “at liberty to retain, and use, their titles”.
Dr Morris said of the Sussex branding: “Whether or not they use the title is another matter.”
However, he expressed skepticism that there is an overwhelming will to strip Meghan and Harry of their Duke and Duchess titles anytime soon.
He added: “At the moment, we have a situation where they’re living abroad.
“Harry may well have established or be in the process of establishing domicile there, which leaves him out absolutely from acting as Counsellor of State.
“They are at liberty to retain, and use, their titles, until such time as they were moved by an Act of Parliament.
“And I don’t see that happening.”