One of the biggest revelations to come out of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s widely publicized interview with Oprah was that, in addition to concerns being raised about the skin color of couple’s firstborn son, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, he was denied the title of prince by Buckingham Palace. But new reports claim that well ahead of Archie’s birth, the couple turned down another title that was just, well, kinda dumb-sounding.
“They didn’t want him to be a prince or a princess, which would be different from protocol,” Meghan told Oprah (h/t Marie Claire), adding: “This went on for the last few months of our pregnancy where I’m going, ‘Hold on a second. How does that work?…If he’s not gonna be a prince, he needs to be safe.’
“All around this same time, we had in tandem the conversation of he won’t be given security, he’s not going to be given a title, and also concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born,” she concluded. (As the couple subsequently stepped down as senior royals, Harry’s monarchy-funded security detail was pulled, as well.)
At the time, the palace countered that the denial was, in fact, in accordance with royal protocol since the reign of Queen Elizabeth II’s grandfather King George V, which stipulates that only those directly in the line of succession to the throne receive the titles [of] prince or princess. Accordingly, Archie and newborn sister Lilibet Diana wouldn’t be eligible until their grandfather Prince Charles ascends to the throne—something numerous reports last week claim he reportedly has no intention of doing.
However, there was reportedly another title for Archie the couple preemptively declined. Ahead of their 2018 wedding, the queen granted Harry a Scottish earldom to bestow upon his firstborn son—the Earl of Dumbarton.
“They didn’t like the idea of Archie being called the Earl of Dumbarton because it began with the word ‘dumb’ [and] they were worried about how that might look,” a royal source told British outlet the Telegraph.
“It wasn’t just Meghan who pointed out the potential pitfalls, it also bothered Harry,” another source explained.
Apparently, the two were justified in their concern. After Archie was compared to a chimpanzee just days after his birth, since the reports of the rejected title surfaced, the Sussexes have once again become targets of derision, according to Page Six.
Even the newscasters on BBC Radio 4’s usually straight-laced “Today” show could not hide their laughter while reporting the news — with one, Nick Robinson, ending it by quipping, “Dumb and dumber.”
The title of the 1994 Jim Carrey movie quickly spread online, too, with many others joking that the right-on pair should have named their son “the Earl of Wokingham.”
“What an insult to Dumbarton,” [Twitter user] Sue Sutton-Smythe complained, while others shared history of the Scottish town as well as its earldom, which was first created in March 1675.
A spokesperson for the couple declined to issue a comment to the Telegraph regarding this latest round of revelations. But in other news, questions and criticism about who funded their time living in Frogmore Cottage on the grounds of Windsor Castle can finally be put to rest.
The couple was living in the residence when they welcomed Archie in May of 2019, and had extensive renovations done before deciding to step down as senior royals and make a life in the United States. The Root was among many outlets that reported the couple reimbursed the renovation costs in in September 2020 as they sought to become financially independent. However, a new report from People magazine clarifies that the $3.3 million payment not only paid off the cost of the upgrades but pre-paid rent through the remainder of their initially expected tenure, which is March 31, 2022. (This, despite the fact that Prince Andrew’s daughter Princess Beatrice and her family have since moved into the premises.)
As People further reported, the Sussexes not only resolved the debt, but may be owed a debt of gratitude for helping to pad the royal coffers during the economic downturn of the past year:
“The payment covers all their current obligations,” Sir Michael Stevens, Keeper of the Privy Purse, confirmed to reporters Wednesday at the launch of an annual report into the taxpayer-funded Sovereign Grant that finances the royal family’s public duties.
“It should also be remembered also that this payment has come in the current year at a time where our supplementary income has reduced dramatically,” he continued in reference to the 53% fall in tourism-related finances experienced by the royal household as a result of the COVID pandemic. “[Harry and Meghan’s payment] has helped to offset the reduction that we would have seen.”
Updated: Friday, 6/25/21 at 9:25 a.m., ET: A Friday morning report pushes back on widespread speculation that Prince Charles will deny Harry’s children their due titles once ascending to the throne. According to People magazine, royal historian Robert Lacey (Battle of Brothers: William, Harry and the Inside Story of a Family in Tumult) “believes Charles will defer to tradition, which dictates that prince or princess titles are automatically granted to all his grandchildren when he ascends to the throne.”
“I don’t think he will make the unpopular and hostile move of removing the royal status of his grandchildren,” Lacey told the outlet. If that turns out to be the case, the decision will rest will Harry and Meghan as to whether they still regard the titles as significant, or would now prefer their children to live their lives as civilians.