- Niall Carson /Getty
- The royal wedding will grant Meghan Markle a host of titles, including Princess Henry of Wales.
- She can be called that because she takes the official first name of her husband – and Prince Harry’s real name is Henry.
- But several royals have ignored such titles, and recent tradition dictates that the odd-sounding style will never be used.
- Princess Michael of Kent, who married in 1978, is the only living royal to be known by her husband’s name.
When Meghan Markle ties the knot with Prince Harry tomorrow, she will officially become part of the royal family, bringing her a new career, instant celebrity, a colorful cast of relatives – and several royal titles.
It is highly likely that Markle will become a duchess, like Kate Middleton. But there’s another title she will gain from the marriage that she almost certainly will never use for anything.
In keeping with royal tradition, after she marries, Markle can technically be called Princess Henry of Wales. She gets that title from the days when royal spouses took their husband’s name. (Prince Harry’s name is actually Henry.)
But the realities of modern life mean that nobody will call her Princess Henry, mainly because it sounds really weird.
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The clunky name emphasizes the fact that Markle won’t be a princess in her own right but through marriage. Women who are royal by blood, like Princess Charlotte or Princess Eugenie, get to use their own name.
It means Kate Middleton can also be Princess William of Wales. But in reality, she is never called that – even in official royal documents, which usually call her the Duchess of Cambridge.
Only one royal still sticks to this convention. Princess Michael of Kent took the name when she married Prince Michael in 1978, when it wasn’t so strange.
Prince Michael’s website even includes a “frequently asked questions” section explaining why Princess Michael seems to have a man’s name.
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The Duchess of Gloucester also used to be known as Princess Richard, but she dropped the title when her husband, Prince Richard, inherited the dukedom from his father.
So although this convention is perfectly correct – and indeed the only way Markle will be able to refer to herself as a princess – it is extremely unlikely to make a comeback.
More on the royal wedding:
- Here’s what time Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s royal wedding will start where you live – and how to watch it
- Here’s exactly what time the Queen, royal family, Harry, and Meghan will arrive at Windsor Castle for the royal wedding on Saturday
- Prince Charles will replace Meghan Markle’s dad at the royal wedding and walk her down the aisle
- Meghan Markle has broken her silence on her family drama – and says her dad definitely isn’t coming to the wedding
- Princess Charlotte and Prince George will be bridesmaid and page boy in the royal wedding – here’s who else made the list
- Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s big day will cost over 1,000 times more than the average wedding – here’s where it will all go
- Follow all of our coverage here