Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s engagement announcement captivated the world Monday, but the royal’s betrothment to the American actress belies a more significant development that’s been simmering since the Revolutionary War. Could Britain, somehow, end up under American rule?
In a word — sort of.
But first, some history. The happy couple met in July 2016 after they were reportedly set up on a blind date by mutual friend Markus Anderson. After months of rabid speculation from the U.K.’s finest tabloids, Harry confirmed the relationship, condemning the sexist and racial undertones in the media’s coverage of Markle, who is divorced and half-black. The prince ultimately proposed in London in early November after receiving the green light from both Queen Elizabeth II and Markle’s parents.
Their unlikely courtship raises many questions — how does a royal ask someone on a date? Did they argue at all over the proper pronunciation of the word “schedule”? And how much more fun would the headlines be if she had been cast on the USA show “Royal Pains” instead of the USA show “Suits”?
But one question looms above all: Could Meghan Markle ever be the queen of England? And if so, who would have to die and how? The list of everyone that would have to (tragically, of course) abdicate, retire, or die for an American to invade Buckingham Palace is pretty short:
- Queen Elizabeth II
- Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales and the oldest son of Queen Elizabeth II
- Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Prince Charles’ oldest son
- Prince George, Prince William and Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton’s son
- Princess Charlotte of Cambridge, Prince William and Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton’s daughter
- The unborn baby of Prince William and Kate Middleton due in 2018
But that’s about all that’s simple about this question. Because the Succession to the Crown Bill of 2013 removed male priority to the throne, giving older daughters equal right, all of Middleton’s children will jump the line. Her most recent pregnancy makes Prince Harry the soon-to-be sixth in line for the throne, and though it is highly unlikely he’ll ever become king (or is it…), if he does, Markle could become queen consort, a title available to the wife of the reigning king — even an American one.
Unfortunately, the consort title is not accompanied by any ruling power, though she would ostensibly have considerable influence over the ruling monarch. And if Harry were to pass away while being king, Markle still wouldn’t become the reigning queen — the throne would then pass to Harry and Markle’s half-American child, if they were to have one. So there you have it. Plus, if Markle remains an American citizen, that child would ostensibly also be eligible for U.S. citizenship and could run for president one day.
For now, Markle’s title is: unknown. But the game of titles is about to begin — Markle and Prince Harry are rumored to be in line for duke and duchess titles on their wedding day, just as Kate Middleton and Prince William became the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on theirs.
The happy couple are set to marry in the spring of 2018, according to a statement made by Clarence House. And then? It’s anyone’s guess.