Harry and Meghan's royal newborn is no prince, yet
Jackie Dunham, CTVNews.ca Staff
Published Tuesday, May 7, 2019 10:11AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, May 7, 2019 11:56AM EDT
Now that Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, have welcomed their first child, questions are emerging about how the newest member of the Royal Family should be addressed, how he will be raised, and where he ranks in the hierarchy.
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On Monday, a glowing Prince Harry shared news that his wife Meghan had given birth to a healthy baby boy earlier that day. Although the couple is “still thinking” about what they will name their son, there is already keen interest in the little boy and how his famous parents plan to raise him.
Harry and Meghan have been known to buck tradition in favour of a more modern approach to their marriage and family so it remains to be seen to what extent they’ll follow royal customs when it comes to their son’s upbringing.
Will the royal baby be a prince?
Thanks to King George V’s 1917 decree, only the oldest son of the Prince of Wales’ oldest son (Prince William) is entitled to be called His Royal Highness or a Prince. That means that only Prince George, not his siblings, is supposed to be called a prince. However, the Queen intervened on behalf of his younger siblings in 2012 and issued a new Letters Patent, which gave them the right to be called princes and princesses.
In Prince Harry’s case, the Queen didn’t change the rules again to allow his children to be referred to as His or Her Royal Highness and a prince or princess. Therefore, CTV News Royal commentator Richard Berthelsen said the newborn won’t have prince ahead of his name.
“If the Queen was going to intervene, she would have done so before the birth,” he explained to CTVNews.ca during a telephone interview on Tuesday.
Berthelsen said the only way Prince Harry’s son would be called a prince is later in life when Prince Charles succeeds the throne.
“He’ll go from being a great-grandchild of a sovereign to a grandchild so he would be eligible to become a prince,” he said.
What will the baby be named?
As predictions and bets abound, with Albert, Arthur, Alexander and James among the widely speculated frontrunners, the new royal baby’s name has been the subject of intense speculation.
While the Duke and Duchess appear to be taking their time in deciding on a first name, the baby is expected to have the surname Mountbatten-Windsor with the title Earl of Dumbarton.
“The baby will have a courtesy title, not an official title,” Berthelsen explained.
It’s believed the newborn will be called the Earl of Dumbarton because the first son of a duke is allowed to have one of his father’s lesser titles as a courtesy. In addition to a dukedom, the Queen bestowed Prince Harry with the title of Earl of Dumbarton when he wed Meghan nearly a year ago.
It’s also possible the couple will break with tradition and not give their child any special designation.
How will the royal baby be raised?
Berthelsen said he expects Prince Harry and Meghan’s child to have a similar upbringing to his cousins Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis in that he’ll likely attend a private school and have privileges thanks to his family’s status. The main difference, according to Berthelsen, is the child won’t be expected to become a working member of the Royal Family when he is an adult.
“In other words, he would not have public duties and responsibilities within the Royal Family, but would be expected to make their way in life doing whatever they want to do,” he said.
Because he’s already far down the line of succession, the child is expected to have more independence in determining his future.
“I just don’t believe that Harry is going to expect his children to join the working Royal Family like he has to do,” Berthelsen said. “They would want them to have a regular career of their choosing.”
How do you greet the royal baby?
After Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tried and failed to give Prince George a high-five during the Royal Family’s visit to Canada in September 2016, the question of how to greet the newest member remains.
According to the Royal Family’s website, men can perform a slight neck bow and women can give a small curtsy when greeting a Royal. It’s also acceptable to simply give a short handshake.
For a royal baby or a child, there is no official protocol. When former U.S. President Barack Obama visited Prince William and his wife Kate in Kensington Palace in 2016, he crouched down to give their two-year-old son Prince George a small handshake.
Obviously, Prince Harry and Meghan’s baby is too young for shaking hands, but it appears to be an acceptable gesture for greeting most members of the Royal Family.
Because the new royal baby doesn’t have a His Royal Highness or prince designation, it wouldn’t be expected to bow or curtsy in front of him, Berthelsen said.
“Most people would probably refer to him as Mr. Mountbatten-Windsor or Alexander or whatever [his given name is] and on high social occasions they would say the Earl of Dumbarton,” Berthelsen said.