Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s royal baby is set to make history in more ways than one. In addition to being the first modern biracial royal in line for the throne (7th, in fact), Baby Sussex will also technically be a U.S. citizen and hold dual citizenship in the U.K.
According to the U.S. State Department, a baby born abroad to a U.S. citizen and a non-American automatically acquires U.S. citizenship at birth if the U.S. citizen parent has been physically present in the U.S. or one of its outlying possessions for five years prior to the person’s birth (which Meghan has), at least two of which were after the age of fourteen.
An American can automatically transmit their citizenship to their child, and being a British citizen does not mean you can’t be a U.S. citizen. Even though the baby will born an American citizen, the couple will have to report the birth to an American consulate in order to acquire the official documents needed to prove U.S. citizenship. Then they will be eligible to apply for a passport for the baby, for example.
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The palace previously said that Meghan, who was born and raised in Los Angeles, had plans to become a U.K. citizen (which is known to be a lengthy process) after marrying Harry.
A spokesperson for the family said at the time that it was “too early to say” if she will retain her American citizenship after she becomes a British citizen. But while she’s going through the process, she will remain an American citizen.
As it stands, their baby would obtain dual citizenship for the U.S. and U.K. if Meghan does not give up her American citizenship before she’s due to give birth.
There isn’t much precedent when it comes to foreigners marrying into the British royal family. The last time an American married into the family, it caused a constitutional crisis: King Edward VIII was forced to abdicate the throne to marry his divorced American fiancée, Wallis Simpson.
Though clearly times have changed, and this American was welcomed into the royal family fold, there’s still a few hurdles she’ll have to jump through — even if she gets a fast pass to British citizenship.
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As for whether Meghan will have to give up her American citizenship, it doesn’t seem so. Since she’s not marrying the heir to the throne, there’s less pressure all around. And she doesn’t come from royalty herself, as Prince Philip did (he had to renounce his title of Prince of Greece and Denmark before marrying Queen Elizabeth in 1947). Holding onto her American citizenship wouldn’t be quite as controversial as retaining a foreign title would have been.
Also unknown as of right now is what title the royal boy or girl will receive. If their baby is a boy, he could be known by the title Earl of Dumbarton, the secondary Sussex title, before inheriting the dukedom. If it’s a girl, she could potentially be called Lady (Her Name) Mountbatten-Windsor. But it’s unlikely that the baby will receive a title of prince or princess.
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