Baby Archie's lack of titles suggests Prince Harry and Meghan Markle may have been planning to step back from the royal family as early as last year, an expert claimed today.

Joe Little, the managing editor of Majesty magazine, said that Archie's lack of titles hints at his parents' "wider masterplan" to step back from their roles as royals.

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The couple's son was named Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor following his birth on May 6 last year.

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As the first-born son of a duke, Archie could have assumed the title of Earl of Dumbarton.

However, the couple stated he would simply be known as Master Archie, which at the time was said to be in line with his father's wish that he grow up as a private citizen.

The Sussexes chose not to give baby Archie the title of Earl of Dumbarton. Photo / Getty
The Sussexes chose not to give baby Archie the title of Earl of Dumbarton. Photo / Getty

Mr Little told the Express: "The fact Archie isn't Earl of Dumbarton or styled HRH makes me wonder whether this wasn't already part of a wider masterplan."

According to the regulations of the House of Windsor, Archie is not automatically entitled to the HRH styling, which only extends to grandchildren of the monarch.

The Queen did, however, opt to forgo the rules for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's two younger children - Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.

When the Queen dies, Harry's son could become a Prince. However, this is now in doubt and could possibly be part of the new Megxit deal being fleshed out by courtiers.

Yesterday it was confirmed that the Queen would sanction the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's new "independent life" away from full-time royal duties.

Royal biographer Penny Junor described the Queen's comments - which featured the word family eight times - as "warm and friendly and supportive".

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In an unusual move Harry and Meghan were not referred to as the duke and duchess in the statement, raising questions about whether they will retain their titles.

Harry and Meghan made clear in their statement last week they want to step back from being senior royals, become financially independent and split their time between North America and the UK.

Harry and Meghan now want to be financially independent. Photo / Getty
Harry and Meghan now want to be financially independent. Photo / Getty

The head of state said: "Today my family had very constructive discussions on the future of my grandson and his family. 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.

"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."

In another development, William and Harry made a joint show of strength by issuing a statement denying a newspaper claim about their relationship which they branded "offensive and potentially harmful".

The statement did not name the newspaper but the Times has a front page story about the crisis, and says a source told the publication that Harry and Meghan "regarded themselves as having been pushed away by what they saw as a bullying attitude from the Duke of Cambridge".

A number of questions remain unanswered, with the central issue being how will the Sussexes fund their future lives and whether any future deals will have to be scrutinised by the palace.

Meghan revealed her struggle with her royal role in an interview filmed while the couple were on tour in South Africa last year. Photo / Getty
Meghan revealed her struggle with her royal role in an interview filmed while the couple were on tour in South Africa last year. Photo / Getty

Why was Archie not born a prince or HRH?

King George V - Harry's great, great grandfather - limited titles within the royal family in 1917 as far as grandchildren of the serving monarch.

This means Archie, as Harry and Meghan's first born, is too far down the line of succession to be an HRH or a prince.

George V, speaking in 1917, declared that: "The grandchildren of the sons of any such Sovereign in the direct male line (save only the eldest living son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales) shall have and enjoy in all occasions the style and title enjoyed by the children of Dukes of these Our Realms."

The eldest son and heir apparent of a duke can use one of his father's lesser grade peerage titles by courtesy.

So Archie is entitled to call himself the Earl of Dumbarton - one of the subsidiary titles Harry received from the Queen on the morning of his wedding. However his parents have never stylised him as such, instead opting for Master Archie.

As such, his full title is Master Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor.

The same is true of Zara Phillip's children, Mia Grace Tindall and Lena Elizabeth Tindall. However, as neither of their parents are not Dukes or Duchesses, they have no secondary titles to take, as Archie potentially did with the Earldom of Dumbarton.

While great-grandchildren are not normally titled HRH or Prince, that privilege does extend to first-born heirs, which is why Prince George was designated as such on in birth in 2012.

In that year, the Queen issued letters that deemed all of Prince William's children would be designated HRH from birth, which is why Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis enjoy those titles.

As such, their full titles are; His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge, Her Royal Highness Princess Charlotte of Cambridge, and His Royal Highness Prince Louis of Cambridge.