Harry and Meghan to be Duke and Duchess of Sussex

Queen follows tradition of giving dukedom to senior male royal as wedding gift

Meghan Markle will graduate from actor to duchess on her marriage after the Queen gave her grandson Prince Harry a dukedom for their wedding gift.

The title of Duke of Sussex, bestowed just hours before the ceremony on Saturday, means Markle will carry the style HRH and the title Duchess of Sussex.

The announcement by Buckingham Palace read: “The Queen today has been pleased to confer a Dukedom on Prince Henry of Wales. His titles will be Duke of Sussex, Earl of Dumbarton and Baron Kilkeel.

“Prince Harry thus becomes His Royal Highness The Duke of Sussex, and Ms Meghan Markle on marriage will become Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex.”

Sussex was the bookies’ favourite for the sixth in line to the throne.

A dukedom, the highest title in the British peerage, is a traditional wedding gift to senior male royals. But suitable dukedoms – those not already taken, those without taint and unfortunate histories or those with any other living claimants – are in relatively short supply. Several are already used up owing to longevity.

Sussex is not controversial. There has only been one previous Duke of Sussex: the eccentric Prince Augustus Frederick, the ninth child and sixth son of King George III. The title became free on his death in 1843 because, although he married twice, both happened without the king’s consent, thus rendering his two children technically illegitimate. Previously and later, Sussex was an earldom.

Other available dukedoms had limitations. Connaught is now in the Irish Republic; and Clarence has had a chequered history as previous holders have died young, been drowned in a barrel of Malmsey wine or erroneously rumoured to be Jack the Ripper.

It was probably too early to bestow the title Duke of Windsor, as to do so would resurrect the memory of the Duchess of Windsor, Wallis Simpson, the last US divorcee to marry into the royal family, precipitating the abdication crisis of 1936.

It is customary that a peerage title is chosen from each of the three kingdoms, so Harry also received Scottish and Northern Irish titles in becoming the Earl of Dumbarton and Baron Kilkeel.

The title Earl of Dumbarton, on the north bank of the River Clyde, has not been used since 1749, and Harry will be the third earl of that name in history. Kilkeel, a small town on the coast of County Down below the Mourne Mountains, has never previously been granted as a title.

It does mean as well as becoming a duchess, Markle will be a countess.


Caroline Davies

The GuardianTramp

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