Monday, April 15, 2024

Prince Harry Shares Why He and Meghan Markle Have Not Renounced Their Royal Titles

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preview for Princes William and Harry Through the Years

Ever since January 2020, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have existed in a bizarre royal stasis. After formally stepping back as senior members of the British royal family—a drastic measure they claim they felt forced to make, thanks to the harassment and racism Meghan experienced on behalf of the British tabloids—they permanently relocated to California. Then, in March 2021, came the couple’s now-infamous interview with Oprah Winfrey, further fracturing their relationship with the monarchy and its eternal motto of “Never complain, never explain.” Despite having cut both personal and professional ties with the so-called Firm, Harry and Meghan have nevertheless retained their royal titles, a move critics have labeled as a less-than-conspicuous branding tactic. (To clarify, they gave up their HRH titles after stepping back but were able to remain “duke” and “duchess.”)

Now, ahead of the U.S. release of Harry’s new memoir, Spare, the prince has shed some insight on his real reasoning. During a promotional interview for Spare, 60 Minutes reporter Anderson Cooper asked, “Why not renounce your titles as duke and duchess?”

Harry’s answer was simple enough: “And what difference would that make?”

Cooper probed further, asking, “Why be so public? Why reveal conversations you’ve had with your father or with your brother? You say you tried to do this privately.”

Harry replied, “And every single time I’ve tried to do it privately, there have been briefings and leakings and planting of stories against me and my wife.” He later added, “So now, trying to speak a language that perhaps [the family will] understand, I will sit here and speak truth to you with the words that come out of my mouth, rather than using someone else, an unnamed source, to feed in lies or a narrative to a tabloid media that literally radicalizes its readers to then potentially cause harm to my family, my wife, my kids.”

Regardless of whether it’s working, Harry and Meghan have repeatedly expressed that their ongoing media campaign is an effort to confront the royal family with the truth of their own experience. Removing their royal titles, Harry seems to believe, would do little to accomplish that goal, even if it might temporarily stall the criticism hurled against them.

Still, maintaining their duke and duchess styling doesn’t mean the Sussexes have any interest in a future life within the Firm. When asked if he would consider returning to the family as a full-time member, Harry replied, “No. I can’t see that happening.” The royals seem to read that loud and clear.



Headshot of Lauren Puckett-Pope

Lauren Puckett-Pope

Associate Editor

Lauren Puckett-Pope is an associate editor at ELLE, where she covers film, TV, books and fashion. 

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