Meghan Markle took on the surname Sussex when she married Prince Harry in a lavish ceremony at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor in May 2018 and officially became the Duchess of Sussex. The former actress however may soon have to adopt a new surname after agreeing with the Royal Family she and Prince Harry will no longer use their royal titles in an official capacity. The Duchess of Sussex has continued to be known by her maiden name but she may choose to don another royal surname as she embarks on her new independent life.
Meghan has the option to adopt the same surname the Queen and Prince Philip picked to pass on to their descendants as early as 1952.
While the majority of styled members of the Royal Family traditionally use their titles as surnames, male-line heirs of the monarch have been granted the right to use Mountbatten-Windsor when required.
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry chose to give their son Archie Harrison the Mountbatten-Windsor surname in what is believed to have been a touching tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh.
The Duchess of Sussex could therefore decide to match her son and come to be known as Meghan Mountbatten-Windsor.
Meghan Markle could take on a new surname once she steps away from royal duty
But before becoming the Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry used to be known as Harry Wales after he and brother Prince William decided to take on their father’s house name.
The Royal Family is not new to changing surnames as they were forced to renounce their Saxe-Coburg style in the middle of World War One because of the war with Germany.
King George V chose to take on the name Windsor, after one of the family’s favourite residences in Berkshire.
And when Prince Philip married then-Princess Elizabeth in 1947 he renounced his Greek and Danish titles as he became a naturalised British citizen going by the surname Mountbatten.
The two royal titles were merged as the result of a lengthy fight between the Duke of Edinburgh and the Queen over Philip’s right to give his children his surname.
After inheriting the throne, Her Majesty declared in 1952 that the royal family’s surname would be Windsor and not Mountbatten.
The decision reportedly angered the Duke of Edinburgh who is said to have shouted “I’m just a bloody amoeba,” stating he was the only man in the country not to have given his children his name.
In 1960, the Queen gave him a concession when it was decreed that the Queen’s direct descendants who were not granted the title of Prince or Princess would instead be given the surname Mountbatten-Windsor.
Royal biographer Sally Bedell Smith cites Harold Macmillan’s private memoirs to show how emotional the issue was for the Duke of Edinburgh and the Queen.
The former Prime Minister’s journal entry reads: “The Queen only wishes (properly enough) to do something to please her husband – with whom she is desperately in love.
“What upsets me is the prince’s almost brutal attitude to the Queen over all this.”
Ms Bedell Smith also wrote that Lord Mountbatten believed the 10-year “delay” in the couple having any more children after Princess Anne was a result of the Duke’s discontent over the surname issue.
Ever since, the Queen’s descendants have been given the surname Mountbatten-Windsor – including newest royal addition Archie.