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Did Harry and Meghan's decision not to title Archie hint at plan?

Baby Archie's lack of titles suggests Prince Harry and Meghan Markle may have been planning to step back from the royal family as early as last year, an expert claimed today.

Joe Little, the managing editor of Majesty magazine, said that Archie's lack of titles hint at his parents' 'wider masterplan' to step back from their roles as royals.

The couple's son was named Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor following his birth on May 6 last year.

As the first-born son of a duke, Archie could have assumed the title of Earl of Dumbarton.

However the couple stated he would simply be known as Master Archie, which at the time was said to be in line with his father's wish that he grow up as a private citizen.

Majesty's Joe Little said that Archie's lack of titles hint at his parent's 'wider masterplan' to step back from their roles as royals (pictured in Cape Town in September)

Mr Little told the Express: 'The fact Archie isn't Earl of Dumbarton or styled HRH makes me wonder whether this wasn't already part of a wider masterplan.' 

According to the regulations of the House of Windsor, Archie is not automatically entitled to the HRH styling, which only extends to grandchildren of the monarch.

The Queen did, however, opt to forgo the rules for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's two younger children - Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis. 

When the Queen dies, Harry's son could become a Prince. However this is now in doubt and could possibly be part of the new Megxit deal being fleshed out courtiers.

Why was Archie not born a prince or HRH?

King George V - Harry's great, great grandfather - limited titles within the royal family in 1917 as far as grandchildren of the serving monarch.

This means Archie, as Harry and Meghan's first born, is too far down the line of succession to be an HRH or a prince.

George V, speaking in 1917, declared that: 'The grandchildren of the sons of any such Sovereign in the direct male line (save only the eldest living son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales) shall have and enjoy in all occasions the style and title enjoyed by the children of Dukes of these Our Realms.'

The eldest son and heir apparent of a duke can use one of his father's lesser grade peerage titles by courtesy.

So Archie is entitled to call himself the Earl of Dumbarton - one of the subsidiary titles Harry received from the Queen on the morning of his wedding. However his parents have never stylised him as such, instead opting for Master Archie. 

As such, his full title is Master Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor. 

The same is true of Zara Phillip's children, Mia Grace Tindall and Lena Elizabeth Tindall. However, as neither of their parents are not Dukes or Duchesses, they have no secondary titles to take, as Archie potentially did with the Earldom of Dumbarton.

While great-grandchildren are not normally titled HRH or Prince, that privilege does extend to first-born heirs, which is why Prince George was designated as such on in birth in 2012.

In that year, the Queen issued letters that deemed all of Prince William's children would be designated HRH from birth, which is why Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis enjoy those titles.

As such, their full titles are; His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge, Her Royal Highness Princess Charlotte of Cambridge, and His Royal Highness Prince Louis of Cambridge.

Yesterday it was confirmed that the Queen would sanction the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's new 'independent life' away from full-time royal duties. 

In an unusual move Harry and Meghan were not referred to as the duke and duchess in the statement, raising questions about whether they will retain their titles. 

Harry and Meghan made clear in their statement last week they want to step back from being senior royals, become financially independent and split their time between North America and the UK.

The head of state said: 'Today my family had very constructive discussions on the future of my grandson and his family. My family and I are entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan's desire to create a new life as a young family.

'Although we would have preferred them to remain full-time working Members of the Royal Family, we respect and understand their wish to live a more independent life as a family while remaining a valued part of my family.

'Harry and Meghan have made clear that they do not want to be reliant on public funds in their new lives.

'It has therefore been agreed that there will be a period of transition in which the Sussexes will spend time in Canada and the UK.

'These are complex matters for my family to resolve, and there is some more work to be done, but I have asked for final decisions to be reached in the coming days.'

In another development, William and Harry made a joint show of strength by issuing a statement denying a newspaper claim about their relationship which they branded 'offensive and potentially harmful'.

The statement did not name the newspaper but the Times has a front page story about the crisis, and says a source told the publication that Harry and Meghan 'regarded themselves as having been pushed away by what they saw as a bullying attitude from the Duke of Cambridge'.

A number of questions remain unanswered, with the central issue being how will the Sussexes fund their future lives and whether any future deals will have to be scrutinised by the palace.

The Royal timebomb: From launching their own Instagram account to hiring PR firm and building HRH brand... the signs that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have long been plotting to quit 

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have displayed various tell-tale signs over the past year that they have long been looking to quit as senior royals.

Rumours of a rift between Prince Harry and his brother William first emerged last March when he and Meghan split from Kensington Palace to form Sussex Royal.

They also launched their own Instagram account in April, trademarked more than 100 products with their name in June and employed a new PR firm in September.

Meghan also revealed her struggles with royal life in an ITV documentary filmed in Africa last October, and they spent Christmas in Canada away from the royals. 

In addition, the couple decided not to announce their newborn child Archie's godparents after his christening last July in a break with royal tradition.

And last week, a portrait of the Queen with the next three heirs to the throne - Charles, William and George - was released, with no sign of Harry in the picture. 

Here is a timeline of their past year as they said last night they will step back from royal duties and split their time between the UK and North America from now on: 

February 2019 - Meghan makes a surprise trip to New York where she enjoys a two-day baby shower with close friends including Serena Williams and Amal Clooney. The lavish $300,000 event was attended by her celebrity friends including Amal Clooney, Gayle King and Jessica Mulroney and took place in a $75,000-a-night penthouse at a top Manhattan hotel.

March 14 - Rumours of a rift between Harry and William emerge after the Sussexes split from Kensington Palace to form their own royal household. It meant Harry and Meghan took on their own staff with offices in Buckingham Palace, and appointed their own new communications staff, reporting to the Queen's Communications Secretary, Donal McCabe.

April 2: Harry and Meghan launch their own Instagram account, saying it will be used for 'important announcements' and for sharing the work that 'drives' them. The account - which began with a message saying 'We thank you for your support, and welcome you to @SussexRoyal' - now has more than ten million followers. 

Prince Harry and Meghan launched their own Instagram account on April 2 last year

April 4 - The couple move into Frogmore Cottage following taxpayer-funded renovations that reportedly cost around £2.4million. The couple later said they left their previous residence of Nottingham Cottage in the grounds of Kensington Palace because it 'could not accommodate their growing family'.

May 6 - Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor is born at the Portland Hospital in London after Meghan goes into labour in the early hours of the morning. It is a break from tradition with previous royals, including the Duchess of Cambridge, who have previously visited the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in London to give birth.

May 8 - The duke and duchess present baby Archie to the world at a press briefing at St George's Hall at Windsor Castle. The couple later reveal they chose not to use the courtesy title Earl Dumbarton, which Archie was allowed to use, nor to style him Lord Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, opting for plain 'Master' instead.

July 7 - Archie is christened at an intimate ceremony attended by close family. Royal baptisms are traditionally private but Harry and Meghan went one step further by going against convention and deciding not to announce Archie's godparents, with the couple facing criticism from some quarters.

A christening photograph shows Harry and Meghan with their son Archie and (left to right) Camilla, Prince Charles, Meghan's mother Doria Ragland, Lady Jane Fellowes, Lady Sarah McCorquodale, Prince William and Kate in the Green Drawing Room at Windsor Castle last July

June 20 - Harry and Meghan confirm they are splitting from the Royal Foundation charity with William and Kate to start their own initiative, Sussex Royal. It is later revealed it will officially launch in 2020. The split came 16 months after the 'Fab Four' appeared on stage to launch their vision for a shared working future and joked that they were 'stuck together for the rest of our lives'. 

June 21: Harry and Meghan issue a trademark application for their Sussex Royal brand on more than 100 items, from hats to T-shirts and newspapers to gloves, as they appear intent on turning their brand into a global empire. The news is first revealed by the Daily Mail in late December 2019.

 Documents published by the Intellectual Property Office show the trademark applications made by Sussex Royal last June

July 28 - It is announced Meghan is guest editing the September issue of British Vogue and she chooses to put the faces of 15 'changemakers' - including activists, politicians and artists - on the cover rather than herself. Prince Harry also interviewed anthropologist Dr Jane Goodall and tells her he will only have two children for the sake of the planet.

Prince Harry interviewed anthropologist Dr Jane Goodall for British Vogue last July and told her he will only have two children for the sake of the planet

August - The couple are heavily criticised in the press for using private jets to go on holiday with Archie to the south of France, despite their environmental campaigning. They used four private jet flights in just 11 days, with their return visit to Nice seeing them hosted by Sir Elton John. In September, Harry defends the use of the transport and claims it was to 'ensure their safety'.

September 3: Meghan hires top crisis PR firm Sunshine Sachs which once represented Harvey Weinstein in a bid to improve her public image following a series of damaging controversies. Royal watchers pointed out that PR is traditionally handled by Palace staff, and said the move to work with an American company exposed the US focus of their ambitions.

September 23 - Harry and Meghan take Archie on a two-week Royal Tour of South Africa, while the duke also visits Botswana, Malawi and Angola alone. In Angola, Harry visits a minefield where his mother was pictured walking through 22 years previously while on charity work to call for an end to landmines.

October 1 - Prince Harry issues a statement criticising the press for its coverage of his wife and confirms they will take legal action against a newspaper over a story. Referring to the death of his mother Diana in 1997, he said: 'My deepest fear is history repeating itself. I've seen what happens when someone I love is commoditised to the point that they are no longer treated or seen as a real person.'

October 21 - Meghan reveals her struggles with royal life in an ITV documentary filmed during the duke and duchess's trip to Africa and says 'It's not enough to just survive something... You've got to thrive.' In the same programme, Harry reveals he and brother William are on 'different paths'.

November 14 - The duke and duchess confirm they will not spend Christmas at Sandringham with the Royal Family. It is later announced they are taking a six-week break and they spend the holidays in Canada. They decided to spend the period including Thanksgiving with Meghan's mother Doria Regland, and the Queen was thought to have backed the decision.

December: Prince Harry is said to ask Charles about spending more time in Canada and the US, but is told to come up with a more thorough plan. 

December 31 - Harry and Meghan share a picture of the Prince holding Archie while standing by a lake in what is thought to be their Canadian Christmas hideaway of Vancouver Island. They accompanied the post with a message saying: 'Wishing you all a very Happy New Year and thanking you for your continued support!'

The Duke of Sussex holding his son son Archie Mountbatten-Windsor in Canada in December

January 3, 2020 - A portrait of the Queen with the next three heirs to the throne - Charles, William and George - is released by Buckingham Palace, with no sign of Prince Harry in the picture. It was only the second time such a portrait of the monarch and the next three in line to the throne has been released, with the first being in April 2016 to celebrate Her Majesty's 90th birthday. 

The Queen, Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince George pose on December 18 in a photograph to mark the start of the new decade in the Throne Room of Buckingham Palace

Early January: Harry sends a draft proposal about his future role to Charles - but is told he still needs to think it through further, especially regarding funding, it has been claimed. Harry allegedly asks for a meeting with the Queen, but she says she will not discuss his proposals until he has gone over them in detail with Charles.

January 7 - Harry and Meghan return from their break and visit Canada House in London to thank the country's High Commissioner for the hospitality they received. Their first official engagement of the new decade was to publicly thank the Commonwealth country for hosting them during an extended private break over Christmas.

January 8 - The duke and duchess announce in a statement released by Buckingham Palace they are stepping back as 'senior' members of the Royal Family and are 'working to become financially independent'. They also reveal they will split their time between the UK and North America.