Prince Harry: Impact of documentary discussed by experts
Royal expert Daniela Elser argued asking the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to relinquish their titles could “backfire” for the Firm “and prove to be a boon” for Prince Harry and Meghan. The royal commentator noted conversations surrounding Harry and Meghan losing their titles in the wake of their recent remarks on the Firm during their landmark interview with Oprah Winfrey or other public appearances usually imply the couple would be damaged by the move.
However, she believes Meghan and Harry are finding themselves in “something of a win/win” situation, from which they could come out winners no matter whether they retained or lost their titles.
In an op-ed for News.com.au, Ms Elser wrote: “For one thing, it would make the 95-year-old monarch look quite petty and vindictive.
“For those squarely in the pro-Harry and Meghan camp, this sort of move would confirm their view that the Queen is a mean-spirited nonagenarian out to punish the only bi-racial member of her extended family.
“The Sussexes, in turn, could bask in a sort of PR martyrdom that would strengthen their anti-Establishment, ‘speaking truth to power’ brand.”
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Moreover, Ms Elser added, stripping Meghan and Harry of their titles of Duchess and Duke could make the Queen “look like a hypocrite”.
This is because Sarah Ferguson, the ex-wife of Prince Andrew who was stripped of her HRH status after her divorce in 1986, retains her title of Duchess of York to this day and has linked it to various of her commercial ventures throughout the past three decades.
Ms Elser also noted the Queen could only ask the couple to return their titles of Duke and Duchess.
However, Harry’s princely status acquired at birth would always be his.
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She added: “Therefore, should Harry and Meghan find themselves sans their gifted titles then, no biggie, they can simply go down the Wales route.
“Not only would they be able to enjoy something of the moral high ground, forced to suffer the slings and arrows of a vengeful palace, but Meghan would be entitled to style herself as a Princess, an even more elevated title than Duchess.”
The palace, Ms Elser concluded, “only has what looks like losing hands to play” when it comes to the Sussexes’ titles.
She added: “They can leave the couple and their titles untouched, or they can push them to kowtow to their whims and only strengthen the couple’s US cause.”
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Ms Elser’s warning to the palace follows a series of conversations surrounding the Sussexes losing their titles.
After Prince Harry starred in an episode of the podcast Armchair Expert and appeared to criticise his upbringing, some senior aides reportedly called on the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to give up their titles.
One aide told the Mail on Sunday: “The Duke of Sussex has now spent a significant amount of time emphasising that he’s no different to anyone else and attacking the institution which he says has caused him so much pain.
“There is a growing feeling that if you dislike the institution that much, you shouldn’t have the titles.”
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Two weeks ago, royal commentator Lady Colin Campbell launched a petition on the online platform Change.org with the aim to invite Prince Harry to “voluntarily ask the Queen to put his royal style, titles and rank into abeyance”.
This move, she said in the petition’s description, would free the Duke of Sussex from “the diplomatic, political and constitutional constraints that are an inevitable part of royal rank”.
The petition has so far been signed by more than 40,000 people.
Prince Harry and Meghan officially stepped down as senior royals at the end of March 2020, three months after they first publicly announced their intentions to carve a new role for themselves within the Firm.
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Their plans to become part-time working royals, able to still represent the Queen and Crown while also pursue commercial ventures, were dashed, and Meghan and Harry accepted they could no longer carry out royal duties and retain their royal and military patronages if they quit as senior members of the family.
Upon leaving, they retained their full royal titles.
However, they were asked not to use their His/Her Royal Highness styles.
The Queen has never signalled her intention to ask the Sussexes to return their titles.