How members of the British royal family get their last names

Posted at 4:28 PM, May 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-16 16:28:39-04

LONDON – Prince Harry is one of the most famous men in the world. The public seems to know every detail of his life, except his last name.

As his wedding to Meghan Markle approaches, people are starting to wonder what name will appear on their marriage certificate.

Last names are a complicated business for royals. In fact, siblings, parents, and children don’t always share the same last name. The last name for a royal family member can also change throughout the course of one's life, even for men.

The royal family is part of the House of Windsor. When Queen Elizabeth II took the throne in the 50s, “Windsor” was the last name used by most family members. She added “Mountbatten” as a nod to her husband Prince Philip. If Harry and Meghan choose to list the last name on their marriage documents, which they don’t have to, they would likely use “Mountbatten-Windsor.”

Mountbatten-Windsor hasn’t always been Harry’s last name. When he and William were in school, they used the last name “Wales” because their father Charles is the Prince of Wales. Similarly, Prince George uses the last name “Cambridge” at school since his parents William and Catherine are the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Harry and Meghan are expected to be named the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, so “Sussex” will likely be their children’s last name.

Confused yet? Royals rarely use their last names, so “Prince Harry” will continue to do just fine.

To confuse matters further, “Meghan” is not actually Meghan Markle’s first name, it’s her middle name. Her first name is Rachel, just like her character on "Suits."