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Monday, May 06, 2019

The birth of Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor

_. Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex (nee [Rachel] Meghan Markle, born 4 Aug, 1981), wife of HRH The Duke of Sussex, KCVO (born 15 Sept, 1984), gave birth to a son, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, at the Portland Hospital, London, 6 May, 2019.

Archie is the fourth grandchild of the Prince of Wales, and follows his grandfather, the Duke of Cambridge, Prince George, Princess Charlotte, Prince Louis and his father, in line of succession to the throne. His birth pushes the Duke of York to eighth position.

As a great-grandchild of the Sovereign in the male line Archie was not born a Royal Highness or a Prince. That rank is reserved for the children and male line grandchildren.

In a complete break with tradition and with the laws governing peerages, and the children of peers, it has been announced that the infant will not use a courtesy title associated with the Dukedom of Sussex.

It was expected that Archie would be styled as Earl of Dumbarton, which is Prince Harry's earldom, created with the Dukedom of Sussex and Barony of Kilkeel in May, 2018.

A Palace statement announced that no courtesy titles would be borne by the seventh in line to the throne, and that he will be known as Master Archie Mountbatten-Windsor.

It will be interesting to see how the College of Arms handles the case of 'Master' Mountbatten-Windsor. The eldest son of a duke by custom uses one of his father's peerages as a 'courtesy' title, but like his younger brothers he is also 'Lord' [Christian name] Surname, and was born so, and will be recorded as such at the College of Arms.

In cases where a person succeeds to a peerage from a cousin or relation other than a parent then the siblings of that new peer do not automatically assume courtesy titles, and apply to the Crown to be so granted. Claims are reviewed and when approved the Crown Office issues the following:

'Her Majesty has been graciously pleased by Warrant under her Royal Signet and Sign Manual bearing the date …. to ordain and declare that …..(name of person seeking courtesy title) .. shall henceforth have, hold and enjoy the same title, rank, place, pre-eminence and precedence as the children of a ….Duke/Marquess/Earl/Viscount/Baron... as would have been due to them had their father … (his name)… succeeded to the title and dignity of Duke of …….and to command that the said Royal Concession and Declaration be recorded in Her Majesty's College of Arms.'

Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, being born the son of Duke, was born Lord Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor as a legal entity. The 'courtesy' title Earl of Dumbarton may have been declared withheld or not to be used, but on legal documents will the Queen's latest great-grandchild be named as Lord Archie? My mole in the College of Arms certainly thinks so.

The Queen, Head of the Royal House of Windsor, declared by Letters Patent in 1960 that her male line descendants who were not Royal Highnesses or princes or princesses would have the surname Mountbatten-Windsor, to complement her husband, Prince Philip, who had assumed the surname of Mountbatten when he was naturalized a British subject in 1947.

Harry and Meghan's children now share this surname with the children of the Earl and Countess of Wessex, who do not use the royal style and title of HRH.

The decision of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to deny their son a courtesy title is I think unique in the annals of the peerage.

Several peers, or relatives of peers with courtesy titles, do decide not to be so styled. And of course peerages can be disclaimed, within a time limit, under the terms of the Peerages Act 1963. Peers in the Peerage of Ireland and baronets cannot disclaim under the terms of the act.

But how many peers announce that their offspring will not enjoy the courtesy titles associated with their peerages?

Under the terms of the Letters Patent creating Harry's dukedom, on 19 May, 2018, the descent of the title is vested in his heirs male 'lawfully begotten'. Archie is destined, should he survive his father, to succeed as 2nd Duke of Sussex, Earl of Dumbarton and Baron Kilkeel.

Young Archie has a kinsman of the same name. The Duke of Sussex's cousin, the Hon Hugh Roche, and his wife Pippa, have a son Archie Edmund, 11.

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