In recent weeks, there’s been a lot of talk about the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s titles and whether they should be “removed” or perhaps even “given up.” The conversation flurried again during the run of Netflix’s Harry & Meghan series – which notably didn’t even feature their Sussex titles in the name of the program, and their titles were barely mentioned within the show. The British media and the Windsors feel that they always need to have *something* to “hold over the Sussexes’ heads.” For a while in 2020, it was the cost of Frogmore Cottage’s refurbishment (until H&M paid it back). Sometimes they’ll cry about how much the Sussexes’ wedding cost and how Harry and Meghan should “pay it back” – except the wedding was a boon for the British economy, so if we’re being transactional about it, British people owe the Sussexes, which is likely why that argument goes nowhere. So the Brits are stuck banging their heads against the wall about the Sussexes’ titles. King Charles has done nothing about it, reportedly because he thinks the move would be too petty. But there’s another wrinkle! From the Daily Beast’s Royalist column:
Much energy has been expended lately in the British media and public life on calls for laws to be changed to allow the king to remove Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Duke and Duchess of Sussex titles.
Most recently the London Times joined the throng, with Valentine Low and David Brown writing in an op-ed: “There is an obvious next step that Harry and Meghan should take. They have made clear that they consider themselves to be at war with the institution of monarchy, an institution that they appear to hold in contempt. They should therefore hand back their titles. The duke should also take himself and his family out of the line of succession.”
One person who is not keen on forcing change, however, is King Charles himself, according to a fascinating nugget in the Daily Mail’s pseudonymous Ephraim Hardcastle column, which cites a source as saying, “His Majesty doesn’t want it.” The reason for this reluctance to make such a massive constitutional change, the column says, is that if the king had the ability to remove royal dukedoms, he would inevitably “come under immense pressure” to strip his brother Andrew of his Duke of York title.
As the Hardcastle column notes, “Andrew has caused comparatively few problems recently by keeping calm and not rocking the boat. Which is more than can be said for the royals lobbing grenades at the throne from Montecito.”
The intelligence is fascinating as it tallies with claims made to the The Daily Beast in recent weeks that the Andrew problem is one of the reasons why there has been absolutely zero effort made to deprive Harry and Meghan of their titles at senior levels.
The Daily Beast’s source said that to make a move against Harry and Meghan’s titles would would open up a “Pandora’s box” of problems, adding that the king would be “very cautious” of such a move, partly because of the backlash to the decision to strip Diana of her HRH after divorcing him, saying: “Imagine if they did something similar to Harry. He would be able to go on Oprah all over again and say, ‘They did it to my mother and now they are doing it to me.’ It would completely play into their victim narrative.”
Titles can only be legally removed by an Act of Parliament. As The Daily Beast wrote, removing a peerage is “fiendishly complicated.” Even if it were possible, a second source told The Daily Beast, “If you forcibly remove [the titles], then why don’t you take them off Prince Andrew? What about Sarah Ferguson? You can extend the list forever.”
[From The Daily Beast]
There’s something so quintessentially vile about the fact that King Charles won’t remove the Sussexes’ titles specifically because he wants to protect Andrew. That Andrew is seen as less problematic than Harry and Meghan, that Andrew is doing what Charles wants, therefore Charles won’t make a move to seize a predator and human trafficker’s title. I’m also enjoying the fact that “it’s hard and it would take work” is an excuse for NOT removing the Sussexes’ titles. These people are hilariously lazy and stupid. Which is why British royal columnists are now left to whine about how Harry and Meghan should willingly “remove their titles.” “They should listen to us and punish themselves, Meghan doesn’t deserve to have a married name!”
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Cover Images.
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