Meghan Markle will get a fancy new title when she marries Prince Harry -- but it's so weird that she'll never use it

Niall Carson /GettyPrince Harry and Meghan Markle in Belfast earlier this year.
  • The royal wedding will grant Meghan Markle a host of titles, including Princess Henry of Wales.
  • She can be called that because she takes the official first name of her husband – and Prince Harry’s real name is Henry.
  • But several royals have ignored such titles, and recent tradition dictates that the odd-sounding style will never be used.
  • Princess Michael of Kent, who married in 1978, is the only living royal to be known by her husband’s name.

When Meghan Markle ties the knot with Prince Harry tomorrow, she will officially become part of the royal family, bringing her a new career, instant celebrity, a colourful cast of relatives – and several royal titles.

It is highly likely that Markle will become a duchess, like Kate Middleton. But there’s another title she will gain from the marriage that she almost certainly will never use for anything.

In keeping with royal tradition, after she marries, Markle can technically be called Princess Henry of Wales. She gets that title from the days when royal spouses took their husband’s name. (Prince Harry’s name is actually Henry.)

But the realities of modern life mean that nobody will call her Princess Henry, mainly because it sounds really weird.

William Kate Louis Lindo Wing royal babyGetty ImagesPrince William and the Duchess of Cambridge with their newborn son, Prince Louis.

The clunky name emphasises the fact that Markle won’t be a princess in her own right but through marriage. Women who are royal by blood, like Princess Charlotte or Princess Eugenie, get to use their own name.

It means Kate Middleton can also be Princess William of Wales. But in reality, she is never called that – even in official royal documents, which usually call her the Duchess of Cambridge.

Only one royal still sticks to this convention. Princess Michael of Kent took the name when she married Prince Michael in 1978, when it wasn’t so strange.

Prince Michael’s website even includes a “frequently asked questions” section explaining why Princess Michael seems to have a man’s name.

Prince Michael of Kent Princess Michael of KentGetty ImagesPrince and Princess Michael of Kent in 2016.

The Duchess of Gloucester also used to be known as Princess Richard, but she dropped the title when her husband, Prince Richard, inherited the dukedom from his father.

So although this convention is perfectly correct – and indeed the only way Markle will be able to refer to herself as a princess – it is extremely unlikely to make a comeback.

More on the royal wedding:

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