Heritage

This Is What Meghan Markle's Last Name Will Be Once She Marries Prince Harry

She could share a surname with her sister-in-law, Catherine.
IMAGE GETTY IMAGES/ CHRIS JACKSON
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Once Meghan Markle marries Prince Harry in May, she could have a completely new name. The former Suits actress's full name is currently Rachel Meghan Markle—yes, she shares a real first name with her old character on the USA Network TV series. And once she and Harry tie the knot, she could become Rachel Meghan Mountbatten-Windsor.

"Junior members of the royal family have the option of using the surname," royal historian and author Carolyn Harris tells Town & Country.

Queen Elizabeth's descendants carry the name Windsor as well as the name Mountbatten, which reflects her husband Prince Philip’s surname. According to the official royal website:

The Royal Family name of Windsor was confirmed by The Queen after her accession in 1952. However, in 1960, The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh decided that they would like their own direct descendants to be distinguished from the rest of the Royal Family (without changing the name of the Royal House), as Windsor is the surname used by all the male and unmarried female descendants of George V. It was therefore declared in the Privy Council that The Queen's descendants, other than those with the style of Royal Highness and the title of Prince/Princess, or female descendants who marry, would carry the name of Mountbatten-Windsor.

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All that said, royals rarely use their surnames.

"Once married, Meghan will sign as Meghan, no last name. Just as Harry signs as Harry. Royals use only a first name," royal expert Marlene Koenig tells Town & Country. She added that Harry will most likely use a last name when he signs the marriage registrar—probably Mountbatten-Windsor. "This was used by Anne, Andrew, and Edward when they married. Charles had no surname on his registrar. We do not know what William used because unlike every other royal, he chose not to make it public," says Koenig.

Koenig explains that when Harry and William were at school, they were listed under Wales because their father, Charles, is the Prince of Wales. And William's son George is registered at school with the last name Cambridge. On George's birth certificate, the couple left the last names blank.

The Queen will likely grant Harry a royal dukedom on his wedding day — giving Harry and Meghan the titles Duke and Duchess, likely of Sussex.

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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announce their engagement

This is all pretty confusing—and will make official documents a bit tricky for Meghan.

"It will be interesting on how passports are handled, as she cannot become a legal resident of the country for five years," Koenig says. "There are visa procedures to go through from the fiancee settlement visa to the marriage visa, which has to be renewed at least once, and then, after five years, a foreign spouse can apply for permission for permanent residency and then start the citizenship application. So, I do not know how the passport issue will be handled."

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Meghan's credit cards and driver's license, however, will show her title as her name, Koenig explains.

*This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com

*Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors

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