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After raising questions about whether the new way to address Meghan and Harry would echo divorced royals, aides walked back earlier guidance

By Stephanie Petit and Simon Perry
January 20, 2020 05:06 PM
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Meghan Markle and Prince Harry won’t be using their “Royal Highness” titles — but do they now follow the traditional style for divorced royals?

Over the weekend, Queen Elizabeth shared the agreement decided upon after the couple announced they would step down as senior members of the royal family. The guidance also said that Harry remains a prince and that the couple will still be referred to formally as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. In a notable change, however, sources said the royals would now be known as Harry, the Duke of Sussex and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex.

On Monday, that style change was walked back. The couple’s title of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex is not being reviewed, sources tell PEOPLE. When aides asserted that the couple would be known as Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, they were wrong, they said today. They are now reviewing with experts at the palace about the correct use going forward.

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex
Credit: Toby Melville - WPA Pool/Getty
Diana And Sarah Watching Polo
Princess Diana and Sarah Ferguson
| Credit: Tim Graham/Getty Images

The change happened to Princess Diana following her divorce from Prince Charles, when she went from HRH the Princess of Wales to Diana, Princess of Wales. Similarly, Sarah Ferguson‘s title changed from HRH the Duchess of York to Sarah, Duchess of York after her 1996 divorce from Prince Andrew, whose royal title is HRH the Duke of York.

Meghan, 38, and Harry, 35, are still Their Royal Highnesses until the date in the spring when the transition period is over.

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Trevor Engelson and Meghan Markle in 2011
| Credit: Michael Kovac/WireImage

Meghan was previously married to Hollywood producer Trevor Engelson. The former Suits star announced the end of their two-year marriage in the summer of 2013, and they officially divorced a year later.

After a royal family summit last week — which saw Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, Prince William and Harry convene at the Sandringham estate, the 93-year-old monarch revealed the conclusions to the family discussions.

“Following many months of conversations and more recent discussions, I am pleased that together we have found a constructive and supportive way forward for my grandson and his family,” the monarch said in a statement on Saturday.

Queen Elizabeth, Meghan, Harry
Queen Elizabeth, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry
| Credit: Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty

“Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family. I recognise the challenges they have experienced as a result of intense scrutiny over the last two years and support their wish for a more independent life. I want to thank them for all their dedicated work across this country, the Commonwealth and beyond, and am particularly proud of how Meghan has so quickly become one of the family,” the statement read. “It is my whole family’s hope that today’s agreement allows them to start building a happy and peaceful new life.”

The statement added that Meghan and Harry will no longer receive public funds for royal duties and will pay back renovation costs for their Frogmore Cottage home.

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex
Prince Harry
| Credit: Tim Rooke/Shutterstock

On Sunday, Prince Harry attended an event organized for his supporters of his Sentebale charity, which is aimed at supporting the mental health and wellbeing of children afflicted with HIV. He delivered a speech at the event, talking candidly about their exit from the royal family.

“The U.K. is my home and a place that I love. That will never change. I have grown up feeling support from so many of you, and I watched as you welcomed Meghan with open arms as you saw me find the love and happiness that I had hoped for all my life. Finally, the second son of Diana got hitched, hurray!” Harry shared.

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“I also know you’ve come to know me well enough over all these years to trust that the woman I chose as my wife upholds the same values as I do,” the father of one continued. “And she does, and she’s the same woman I fell in love with. We both do everything we can to fly the flag and carry out our roles for this country with pride. Once Meghan and I were married, we were excited, we were hopeful, and we were here to serve.”

“For those reasons, it brings me great sadness that it has come to this. The decision that I have made for my wife and I to step back, is not one I made lightly. It was so many months of talks after so many years of challenges,” Harry said. “And I know I haven’t always gotten it right, but as far as this goes, there really was no other option. What I want to make clear is we’re not walking away, and we certainly aren’t walking away from you.”