Much energy has been expended lately in the British media and public life on calls for laws to be changed to allow the king to remove Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Duke and Duchess of Sussex titles.
Most recently the London Times joined the throng, with Valentine Low and David Brown writing in an op-ed: “There is an obvious next step that Harry and Meghan should take. They have made clear that they consider themselves to be at war with the institution of monarchy, an institution that they appear to hold in contempt. They should therefore hand back their titles. The duke should also take himself and his family out of the line of succession.”
One person who is not keen on forcing change, however, is King Charles himself, according to a fascinating nugget in the Daily Mail’s pseudonymous Ephraim Hardcastle column, which cites a source as saying, “His Majesty doesn’t want it.”
The reason for this reluctance to make such a massive constitutional change, the column says, is that if the king had the ability to remove royal dukedoms, he would inevitably “come under immense pressure” to strip his brother Andrew of his Duke of York title.
Andrew paid a multimillion-dollar sum to settle claims that he sexually assaulted Jeffrey Epstein victim Virginia Giuffre. Although Andrew has clung to protestations of his innocence, he is widely reviled in the U.K. and there have been repeated calls, not least from the people and representatives of the city of York, for him to have his title removed.
However, as the Hardcastle column notes, “Andrew has caused comparatively few problems recently by keeping calm and not rocking the boat. Which is more than can be said for the royals lobbing grenades at the throne from Montecito.”
The intelligence is fascinating as it tallies with claims made to the The Daily Beast in recent weeks that the Andrew problem is one of the reasons why there has been absolutely zero effort made to deprive Harry and Meghan of their titles at senior levels.
The Daily Beast’s source said that to make a move against Harry and Meghan’s titles would would open up a “Pandora’s box” of problems, adding that the king would be “very cautious” of such a move, partly because of the backlash to the decision to strip Diana of her HRH after divorcing him, saying: “Imagine if they did something similar to Harry. He would be able to go on Oprah all over again and say, ‘They did it to my mother and now they are doing it to me.’ It would completely play into their victim narrative.”
Titles can only be legally removed by an Act of Parliament.
As The Daily Beast wrote, removing a peerage is “fiendishly complicated.” Even if it were possible, a second source told The Daily Beast, “If you forcibly remove [the titles], then why don’t you take them off Prince Andrew? What about Sarah Ferguson? You can extend the list forever.”