The subtle but powerful significance behind the titles Duke and Duchess of Sussex

It’s official: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are now the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. If you want to get specific, their full titles are His Royal Highness The Duke of Sussex, Earl of Dumbarton, and Baron Kilkeel and Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex. Queen Elizabeth II conferred these honors on the couple on their wedding day, May 19, 2018, a date you probably have memorized by now.

Royal family experts and fans alike correctly speculated that these would be their titles. The Queen has traditionally conferred a dukedom to senior male members of the royal family as a wedding gift; that’s why Prince William and Kate Middleton became the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge upon their marriage as well. (Here’s why Meghan isn’t called a princess.)

As for the location, it had to be a dukedom without a scandalous reputation. For example, the New Yorker reports that one Duke of Clarence was executed by his brother and another duke of the same title was involved in a gay prostitution ring scandal. Needless to say, the titles of Duke and Duchess of Clarence likely weren’t an option.

Related: Best photos from the big day 

19 PHOTOS
The best photos from Meghan and Harry's royal wedding
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The best photos from Meghan and Harry's royal wedding

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and the Duchess of Sussex hold hands in the Ascot Landau Carriage as their carriage procession rides along the Long Walk, on May 19, 2018 after their wedding ceremony.

(Photo by Yui Mok - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex emerge from the West Door of St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, in Windsor, on May 19, 2018 after their wedding ceremony.

(Photo by Ben Birchall / POOL / AFP) 

Ms. Meghan Markle walks down the aisle at the start of her wedding to Prince Harry in St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018 in Windsor, England.

(Photo by Danny Lawson - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex leave from the West Door of St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, in Windsor on May 19, 2018 in Windsor, England.

(Photo by Ben STANSALL - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex on the steps of St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle following their wedding ceremony in St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018 in Windsor, England.

(Photo by Danny Lawson - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and The Duchess of Sussex leave St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle after their wedding ceremony on May 19, 2018 in Windsor, England.

(Photo by Andrew Matthews - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Princess Charlotte sticks out her tongue as she rides in a car to the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018 in Windsor, England.

(Photo by Andrew Milligan - WPA/Getty Images)

Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex kisses his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex as they leave from the West Door of St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, in Windsor, on May 19, 2018 after their wedding ceremony.

(Photo by Danny Lawson / POOL / AFP)

Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex wave from the Ascot Landau Carriage during their carriage procession on Castle Hill outside Windsor Castle in Windsor, on May 19, 2018 after their wedding ceremony.

(Photo by Paul ELLIS / POOL / AFP) 

US actress Meghan Markle, accompanied by Britain's Prince Charles, Prince of Wales walks down the aisle toward her husband-to-be Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, in St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, in Windsor, on May 19, 2018 during their wedding ceremony.

(Photo by Dominic Lipinski / POOL / AFP)

Meghan Markle and her mother, Doria Ragland, are driven along the Long Walk as they arrive for her wedding ceremony to marry Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, in Windsor, on May 19, 2018.

(Photo by EMMANUEL DUNAND / AFP) 

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle during their wedding service, conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby in St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018 in Windsor, England.

(Photo by Dominic Lipinski - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Princess Charlotte on the steps of St George's Chapel after the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018 in Windsor, England.

(Photo by Jane Barlow - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex emerge from the West Door of St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, in Windsor, on May 19, 2018 after their wedding ceremony.

(Photo by Ben STANSALL / POOL / AFP) 

Meghan Markle is driven to St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle along with her page boys Brian and John Mulroney at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle before the wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle on May 19, 2018 in Windsor, England.

(Photo by Toby Melville- WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, stand together at the altar in St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, in Windsor, on May 19, 2018 during their wedding ceremony.

(Photo by Dominic Lipinski / POOL / AFP)

Prince Harry, arrives with his best man Prince William, Duke of Cambridge for the wedding ceremony of Prince Harry and US actress Meghan Markle at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018 in Windsor, England.

(Photo by Odd Anderson - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex arrive back at Windsor Castle in the Ascot Landau Carriage after their wedding ceremony and after their procession in Windsor, on May 19, 2018.

(Photo by Steve Parsons / POOL / AFP)

Meghan Markle's mother Doria Ragland, Britain's Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Britain's Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall leave the wedding ceremony of Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan Markle.

(Photo by Ben STANSALL / POOL / AFP) 

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The history behind the Sussex dukedom is less scandalous, but not without controversy. There was only one previous Duke of Sussex, Prince Augustus Frederick, the ninth child of King George III. The title became vacant upon his death in 1843. Although the Duke had two children with Lady Augusta Murray, their marriage was not approved by his father, the king, and the couple eventually separated, deeming the kids illegitimate for the title, the Washington Post reports. That separation is also why Meghan is the very first Duchess of Sussex.

However, what makes these titles so significant for Prince Harry and Meghan is that the former Duke of Sussex supported the abolition of the slave trade—a serendipitous fact, considering the Duchess’s African-American heritage. He also supported the removal of restrictions on Jews, Catholics, and dissenters. These liberal political stances eventually estranged him from his father and the court, according to the Royal Collection Trust.

With a limited number of respectable titles for the Queen to bestow, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were almost givens for Prince Harry and Meghan—but no other titles could have been more appropriate. These two, as individuals and as a couple, are known for the times they have broken royal protocol and their willingness to take matters into their own hands. They, like Prince Augustus Frederick, have strong, progressive beliefs, but fortunately, live in a time when the royal family is progressing as well. They have the tools and the drive to make the societal impact the previous Duke never could.

Related: Iconic royal wedding gowns 

15 PHOTOS
Most iconic royal wedding gowns of all time
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Most iconic royal wedding gowns of all time

Marie-Chantal Miller and Prince Pavlos of Greece

The Valentino-designed gown cost $225,000 and took 25 people to make

(Getty)

Prince Abdullah with Rania El-Yassin of Jordan

Rania's gown was designed by Bruce Oldfield and featured rich gold embroidery

(Reuters)

Prince Carl Philip and Sofia Hellqvist of Sweden

The former reality TV star got hitched in a stunning Ida Sjöstedt dress that was decorated with handmade lace from Jose Maria Ruiz. 

(Getty)

Queen Soraya and Shah Mohamed Reza Pahlevi of Iran

Queen Soraya donned a custom Christian Dior gown for her 1951 wedding

(Getty)

Prince William and Kate Middleton of England

The now-Duchess of Cambridge's stunning wedding dress was designed by Alexander McQueen

(Getty)

Prince Felix and Claire Lademacher of Luxembourg

Princess Claire dazzled in an Elie Saab gown with Chantilly lace flowers that came decked out with a 10-foot-long train

(Getty)

Prince Guillaume and Stephanie De Lannoy of Luxembourg 

Princess Stephanie was a total vision in an ivory Elie Saab gown

(Getty)

Prince Charles and Diana Spencer of Whales

Princess Diana took our breath away in a massive David and Elizabeth Emanuel gown

(Getty)

Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly of Monaco

Grace Kelly wore a long-sleeved gown made by costume designer to the stars, Helen Rose, that featured a jaw-dropping 25 yards of heavy taffeta, 25 yards of silk taffeta, 100 yards of silk net, and 300 yards of lace

Princess Victoria and Daniel Westling of Sweden

Princess Victorian wowed in an off-the-shoulder Pär Engsheden satin gown -- but can we talk about that stunning tiara?!

(Getty)

Prince Felipe and Letizia Ortiz of Spain

The former journalist opted for a collared Manuel Pertegaz gown a 14-foot train

(Getty)

Princess Madeleine and Christopher O'Neill of Sweden

Princess Madeleine was the epitome of perfection in a Valentino gown

(Getty)

Princess Caroline and Philippe Junot of Monaco

The royal donned a '70s-style wedding dress designed by Marc Bohan

(Getty)

Prince Haakon and Mette-Marit Tjessem Hoiby of Norway

Princess Mette-Marit opted for a custom-dyed ecru silk crêpe with a 6-foot train and a nearly 20-foot veil

(Getty)

Prince Frederik and Mary Donaldson of Denmark

Princess Mary wore a Uffe Frank gown made of an ivory duchess satin with a scoop neckline, a slim-fit bodice and lily-like sleeves

(Getty)

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That the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been given these titles, then, seems to be a powerful work of fate, one that may foreshadow the changes they will impart on the world through a legacy that was never supposed to exist. Next, be sure to check out the 17 tiny details you may have missed at Prince Harry and Meghan’s wedding.

The post The Subtle but Powerful Significance Behind the Titles Duke and Duchess of Sussex appeared first on Reader's Digest.

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