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 able be Princess Meghanopens a new window. Princess Diana was given the title Princess of Wales, but that is a courtesy title held by the wife of the Prince of Wales, Prince Charles. The Queen gave Prince Harry and Meghan a dukedom, just like she did for Prince William and Kate Middleton; Kate Middleton is the Duchess of Cambridge. Meghan is known as the Duchess of Sussex. And when Prince Harry and Meghan have children, what will their titles be? That's also up to the Queen, who decided in 2012 that Prince William's children would be princes and princesses because they are the children of the eldest son (William) of the Prince of Wales (Charles). It's complicated, isn't it?


Prince Charles will automatically become kingopens a new window on the moment of Queen Elizabeth II's death. He will be permitted to choose his own name (perhaps Charles III?). Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and Prince Charles' wife since 2005, will become Queen. Prince William is likely to inherit the title of Prince of Wales and will then be the heir apparent.


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 peerageopens a new window and how to address the royal familyopens a new window (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.

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