Ranks and Privileges

Will Meghan Markle be a princess? Curious about how the crown's succession works and what the peerage is? Let's find out!


Since Meghan Markle was't born into the royal family she will never be Princess Meghan, opens a new window. Upon her wedding to Prince Harry, the Queen gave Prince Harry and Meghan a dukedom, just as she did for Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge (Catherine, whom we often know as Kate Middleton). Now that she's married, Meghan is known as the Duchess of Sussex. And when Prince Harry and Meghan have children, what will their titles be? Meghan gave birth to Archie on May 6, 2019, and while he is the son of Prince Harry, Harry is not the eldest son of the Prince of Wales, so Archie is not a prince, nor can he be called "Royal Highness." Instead, his parents opted that he would be styled as Master Archie Mountbatten-Windsor. When their daughter Lilibet Elizabeth was born on June 4, 2021, she will not be a princess. 

Why was Diana referred to as a princess? Diana was given the title Her Royal Highness The Princess of Wales as a courtesy title that's held by the wife of the Prince of Wales, Prince Charles. Camilla, Prince Charles's second wife, chose to use her title Duchess of Cornwall when she married him in 2005. 


Prince Charles will automatically become king, opens a new window on the moment of Queen Elizabeth II's death. He will be permitted to choose his own name (perhaps Charles III?). His wife Camilla will become Queen. Prince William is likely to inherit the title of Prince of Wales and will then be the heir apparent to the throne, which will then give Catherine a new title.


The peerage is a group of people who hold hereditary and/or honorary titles. Check out Debrett's, founded in 1769, as the authority on the peerage, opens a new window and how to address the royal family (should you be so fortunate). In order, the rank is duke (duchess), marquess (marchioness), earl (countess), viscount (viscountess) and baron (baroness). A peer may hold several peerages of different ranks. Addressing a duke? You would say "Your Grace." Address a marquess or an earl? You'd say "Lord So-and-So." 

The oldest extant (still existing) dukedom is the Duke of Norfolk, created in 1483. The oldest extant marquessate is the Marquess of Dublin, created in 1385. The oldest extant earldom of England and Ireland is the Earl of Shrewsbury and Waterford, created in 1442. The oldest viscount is the is Viscount Hereford, created in 1550. The oldest extant baronetcy is Lord de Ros, created in 1264.