Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were named the Duke and Duchess of Sussex by the Queen on their wedding day
In a statement released by the 93-year-old monarch following the family’s 90-minute meeting on Monday, the Queen did refer to her grandson and his wife as “the Sussexes.” However, she referred to the couple on multiple instances as “Harry and Meghan,” rather than the Duke and Duchess of Sussex — as she has done in previous statements. She also didn’t use their HRH (His/Her Royal Highness) titles.
“Today my family had very constructive discussions on the future of my grandson and his family,” the Queen said in a statement. “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,” she continued. “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.”
Harry, 35, and Meghan, 38, were named the Duke and Duchess of Sussex by the Queen on their wedding day. Even though they’ve decided to “step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent,” the couple signed their correspondence as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, so it is not likely that they are getting rid of their titles. But the decision ultimately would come down to the Queen — the monarch gave them their titles, and she’s the only one who can take them away.
Royal historian and biographer of the Queen, Robert Lacey, tells PEOPLE that despite not referring to them as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in her statement, it’s unlikely that the monarch will strip them of their titles.
“The very next line refers to them as the Sussexes. They won’t have HRH taken away anymore than the Duke of Windsor did,” he says.
When the Queen’s uncle, Edward VIII, abdicated his throne, he was given the title of the Duke of Windsor and maintained his HRH status.
Ingrid Seward, the Queen’s biographer, tells PEOPLE: “It could hint that they are willing to give up their titles. I’ve never seen a statement as personal like that but we haven’t had a situation like this.”
Meghan and Harry chose not to give their son Archie a “courtesy title” upon his birth in May. It is traditional for the eldest son of a duke to eventually inherit his father’s title. Down the line, Archie could be given the secondary Sussex title, before inheriting the dukedom.
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A source said it was likely the Duchess of Sussex would participate in the discussion on Monday via phone, as she recently returned to Vancouver Island, Canada, where she and Harry spent the holidays together with their son Archie.