With Prince Harry and Meghan Markle no longer classified as working members of the Royal Family, the argument for his or her “Royal Highness” attributions for Archie and Lilibet is moot.
However, the use of Prince and Princess is very much up in the air, titles that should be automatically bestowed upon the grandchildren of the current reigning monarch, according to Royal expert Duncan Larcombe.
“It’s the official rubber stamp that matters and if the King is objecting to them using their titles as Prince and Princess, then he can only be doing that really to punish Harry and Meghan,” Larcombe told Fox News Digital.
Larcombe, who finds it peculiar that a formal announcement has yet to be made by the King or Buckingham Palace, says that a decision could come any day now, likely this week.
However, what is happening in the interim is essentially a messy and potentially strategic game of chess.
Whoever moves first will force their opponent, a family member, to either acquiesce or up the ante.
“I think possibly what we’re seeing from the palace, and I’m not saying this is their new strategy yet, but it’s beginning to look like a strategy: King Charles declares his love, reaffirms his love for Harry and mentions Meghan by name in his first ever speech — a huge, huge olive branch. William then reaches out to his brother, and low and behold, the ‘Fab Four’ are reunited, albeit temporarily in grief. But it certainly feels in this country now that Harry and Meghan presumably are returning home, it feels as though everything really hinges on their next move. The ball is in their court.”
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who have not been photographed since the Queen’s funeral almost one week ago, have multiple projects, including Meghan’s podcast, which she postponed due to the Queen’s death, and Harry’s tell-all book, that jeopardize the future relationship they have with the monarchy.
“That might be the reason why there’s been no clarification yet — it might be that King Charles is waiting to see, for example, how they behave now that the olive branch has been shown to them … It might be that they have to earn that by not destroying the royal family in an autobiography that Harry’s planning,” says Larcombe.
The couple, who now resides in California, is “building a brand,” says the Royal expert. “The brand is focused almost entirely on their link with the British royal family. So it makes a huge difference, commercially, given they’re after the highest bidder, with most of their enterprises … if it’s Meghan Markle whose daughter Lilibet is princess.”
And while the children are seemingly innocent now at just 3 and 1 years old, unfairly impacted by the greater turmoil of their already tumultuous family, who is to say what could happen in the future?
“Imagine 15, 20 years time, and you’ve got Princess (Lilibet) and Prince Archie charging around L.A., having never really participated in any meaningful way in royal life, and yet because they’re prince and princess: What they do, what they get up to, who they hang around with, will have an impact on the reputation on the wider family,” says Larcombe.
“They’re cute cuddly kids now, but goodness knows what might happen. I’m not saying Archie and Lilibet are going to be scandalous. I’m simply saying that there is a risk of having a high-profile called prince and princess because they’re royals when they’re not actually part of that in any way, or shape, or form, other than they just happen to be related to the British royal family.”
While King Charles III won’t be formally coronated until next summer, this could be his “first major test” as Britain’s newest monarch, according to Larcombe.
“He has to try and do everything he can so that the public, when they listen to Harry and Meghan complain, that he is, in some ways, not seen as the villain, but seen as the dad who tried, but because of his position, his hands are tied.”
Prince Harry and Meghan have been outwardly vocal, giving interviews about the mistreatment that lead them to step back from royal duties. And while Larcombe says the King will “almost certainly … never tell publicly” the reason for whatever he decides, “He has to do something.”
“Is King Charles trying to punish his son? Possibly,” says Larcombe. “I would argue that what King Charles is trying to do is purely to protect the monarchy that he has just become the head of. It is about protecting the monarchy from being used by people who do not work or do not commit their life to the duty of being a royal but do make lots and lots of lots of money — fortunes — out of trading in the royal brand. So is it punishment, or is it protection? Probably both.”