Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are at risk of having their royal titles challenged if one lawmaker has his way.
Following the couple’s release of their six-part Netflix documentary in December, Bob Seely, a Conservative Member of the U.K. Parliament, announced he would try to introduce a bill to strip the couple of their royal titles, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Seely said Harry, in particular, was attacking important British institutions “as well as trashing his family and monetizing his misery for public consumption.”
Johnathan Sacerdoti, a British broadcaster and royal commentator, told Fox News Digital the 56-year-old is adamant about moving forward with his plans.
“Seely plans to introduce a private member’s bill that would allow a vote to amend the 1917 Titles Deprivation Act, which was used to strip the German royal family of their U.K. titles during the First World War,” said Sacerdoti. “That level of treachery was seen as cause to remove royal titles back then, so it’s striking that a serving MP now feels so strongly about the actions of Prince Harry and the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, that he wants to use the same law to strip them of their titles.”
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Royal commentator Jonathan Sacerdoti told Fox News Digital Bill Seely (right) told him the bill should be expected sometime in mid-February. The bill aims to strip Prince Harry and Meghan Markle of their Duke and Duchess of Sussex titles. Instead, they would be known as Mr. and Mrs. Windsor.
Sacerdoti said Seely told him the bill needs to be drafted and should be expected sometime in mid-February. If it is ready within the next couple of weeks, Sacerdoti said there is then a process for the bill to be heard in Parliament.
Parliament’s experts have been looking at some old laws. One, The Titles Deprivation Act 1917, stripped German royals of their UK titles during WWI. A change of wording would update the law, allowing Parliament to remove Harry’s titles.
— Bob Seely MP (@IoWBobSeely) December 9, 2022
“Bob Seely originally started to consider this action after the Netflix series was released,” said Sacerdoti. “But he and I spoke just after the publication of [Harry’s memoir] ‘Spare,’ and I think that it didn’t help matters at all.”
“The book was seen by many as betraying the royal family and the monarchy and also has been quite widely mocked in some respects,” he shared. “This just isn’t how royalty usually behaves. The allegations against the royal family in the book are more detailed and more numerous than ever before, which has decreased Prince Harry’s favorability polling and caused many people to question why he should still use his title.”
In early 2020, the couple announced they were quitting royal duties and moving to North America, citing what they said were unbearable intrusions and racist attitudes of the British media. Since then, the couple has aired their grievances against the British monarchy.
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Prince Harry’s explosive memoir "Spare" was published Jan. 10.
(Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
Following their exit, the couple sat down with Oprah Winfrey for an interview that was viewed by 50 million people globally. They alleged to the media mogul that there was “concern” in the royal family about their unborn child’s skin color. Markle, a former American actress, is biracial. The couple hasn’t identified the family member in question, and Harry later said it was an example of “unconscious bias” rather than racism.
In their Netflix documentary, Harry spoke scathingly about how the royal press team worked and spoke about how his relationship with the royal household broke down. Markle, 41, described wanting to end her life as she struggled to cope with toxic U.K. press coverage.
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Then, in the New Year, Harry’s memoir, which details private emotional turmoil and bitter family resentments, hit bookstores Jan. 10. The prince defended his decision to write the explosive tell-all, saying it’s an attempt to “own my story” after 38 years of “spin and distortion” by others.
The book explores Harry’s grief at the death of his mother in 1997 and his long-simmering resentment at the role of “spare,” overshadowed by his older brother Prince William, the heir to the throne. He recounted arguments and a physical altercation with William, as well as how he lost his virginity in a field, using cocaine and cannabis and how he killed 25 Taliban fighters while serving as an Apache helicopter pilot in Afghanistan. That claim was criticized by both the Taliban and British military veterans.
Harry Windsor should voluntarily relinquish his titles. If he doesn’t, Parliament should act to remove them.
If Harry Windsor doesn’t like the monarchy, don’t be part of it, but don’t use your titles AND trash the institution.
— Bob Seely MP (@IoWBobSeely) December 9, 2022
Sacerdoti said the book and its many revelations have only further encouraged Seely to move forward with the bill.
“Bob Seely is planning to bring a private members bill to change the law so that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex could have their titles removed,” he claimed. “Seely’s amendment would give the Privy Council, made up of 741 senior parliamentarians, the power to strip the Sussexes of their titles. He argues that if the duke continues to trash the royal family, he should set an example and give up his title, but if he does not, the law should enable it to be removed anyway. Seely says that the duke’s criticism of the royal family is equivalent to attacking ‘important institutions in this country.’”
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According to Sacerdoti, Seely made it clear to him that these efforts are a way to deal with “bad royals.”
“Royal titles are not normally something that members of Parliament get involved in, but Seely was clear that he wants to be able to help and support the monarchy,” Sacerdoti explained. “And the recent controversies surrounding the activities of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, have clearly made some want to act. The Oprah interview, the Netflix series, ‘Spare’ and all of Prince Harry’s TV interviews have caused problems for the monarchy. I think that because it is a fundamental part of the British constitution, lawmakers like Seely are understandably concerned that it shouldn’t be dragged into the world of celebrity gossip and backbiting.”
As a Member of Parliament for a Sussex constituency and having been born in Sussex and lived most of my life here I am ashamed that this deeply embarrassing couple bear the title of our great county. It is time to take the title back from someone so clearly lacking any respect https://t.co/mVaGULjRIe
— Tim Loughton MP 🇺🇦 (@timloughton) December 8, 2022
“He told me, ‘It is aimed at dealing with bad royals, to give support to the monarchy.'”
In the Netflix documentary, Harry claimed he offered to give up his title before the couple stepped back as senior royals.
“We would be willing to relinquish our Sussex titles if need be,” he said. “That was the plan. We thought it would be good to give ourselves some breathing space, but we were also really passionate about continuing our work throughout the commonwealth and supporting the queen.”
In an interview to promote “Spare,” Anderson Cooper asked Harry, “Why not renounce your titles as Duke and Duchess?”
Prince Harry talked about seeing Princess Diana’s crash photos and his stepmother’s status in a "60 Minutes" interview with Anderson Cooper.
(CBS Photo Archive)
“And what difference would that make?” Harry replied.
Sacerdoti noted that the couple has continued to use their titles, making it clear that they see a commercial value in them that enhances their brand. The couple, choosing to live financially independent lives, live in the wealthy city of Montecito, California.
“They did initially try to set up a brand called ‘Sussex Royal’ when they left, but the queen was said to have put a stop to that,” he explained. “I think that original branding reveals where they think their authority and value lies — both in their Sussex titles and their connections to royalty. But all indications are that the royal family never wanted them to trade off those connections.
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“The favorability ratings for the Sussexes have dropped dramatically since they departed from the U.K.,” he continued. “They chose not to be working royals, but continue to use the titles they were given when they were. Many people feel they are not acting as a duke and duchess should and that their constant attacks and revelations of conversations conducted privately within the royal family have shown them to be unworthy of their titles.”
Meghan cried while sitting beside Prince Harry in a trailer for their Netflix docuseries.
Seely didn’t immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment. But in December, Seely wrote a series of tweets, noting the couple should be known as “Mr. and Mrs. Windsor” as they live in privacy.
“Harry Windsor should voluntarily relinquish his titles. If he doesn’t, Parliament should act to remove them,” Seely tweeted. “If Harry Windsor doesn’t like the monarchy, don’t be part of it, but don’t use your titles AND trash the institution.”
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But not everyone supports Seely’s idea. In December, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s office said it did not back Seely’s bill, adding the government “would never comment on royal matters.” Employment minister Guy Opperman also told BBC Question Time that the couple is clearly “very troubled,” but they’ve also faced “unacceptable” press intrusion.
Tim Loughton, a Conservative Member of Parliament, also felt the couple shouldn’t hold the titles of Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
Meghan Markle became the Duchess of Sussex when she married Britain’s Prince Harry in 2018. The couple stepped back as senior royals in 2020.
(Anwar Hussein/WireImage via Getty Images)
“As a Member of Parliament for a Sussex constituency and having been born in Sussex and lived most of my life here I am ashamed that this deeply embarrassing couple bear the title of our great county,” he tweeted in December.
Sacerdoti said it’s unknown whether Harry’s father, King Charles III, could oppose the bill, noting that “we are, in many ways, in uncharted territory.”
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“Bob Seely told me he wants to support the monarch,” Sacerdoti explained. “He said, ‘This is about supporting a constitutional monarchy which has been brought into disrepute. If Harry has any self-respect he should renounce his title. The monarchy is meant to be dignified. It’s the dignified bit of our constitution.’
“I think the movement to strip them of their titles is motivated in large part by a sense that they don’t deserve them,” Sacerdoti shared. “Many feel that there is a serious responsibility attached to the privilege of having these titles — you can’t enjoy just the benefits and none of the duties. The behavior of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in relation to the royal family, the constitutional monarchy, the county of Sussex and the U.K. at large has been called into question by lawmakers and members of the public alike, which is why the question of removing their titles is one that keeps being raised.”
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex live in California with their two children.
(Matt Dunham/WPA Pool)
Largely funded by taxpayers, the monarchy plays a mostly ceremonial role in British society these days — masters of soft power. But supporters argue that the institution still serves a vital role, uniting the country behind shared history and traditions embodied in both the grandeur of royal ceremonies and the day-to-day work of royals as they open schools and hospitals and hand out honors to those who serve the nation.
Buckingham Palace officials have declined to comment on any of the allegations made in Harry’s book. A spokesperson for the king did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment. A spokesperson for Kensington Palace, which represents the Prince and Princess of Wales, told Fox News Digital it doesn’t have a comment. Allies of the royal family have pushed back on Harry’s claims, largely anonymously.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.