In case you haven't noticed, the British Royal Family is having a pretty big week. And now that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have made their engagement official, a lot of questions about him have been coming up. For example: What is Prince Harry's last name, anyway? After all, if they're getting married and Markle decides to take his name, what that last name might be is pretty important information. However, the answer to that question is a bit complicated.
First things first — the members of the royal family do have a designated last name they can use when needed. It makes sense that they tend to go by their first names only, since they're very recognizable (how many British royal families do you know?) and often joined by their titles. When the members of the Royal Family do need to use a last name, they use Mountbatten-Windsor.
That said, this name does not appear on their birth certificates. When Prince George was born in July 2013, his birth certificate was released and did not include a last name. His name was instead listed as His Royal Highness Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge. There also were not last names listed on his birth certificate for his parents, Prince William or Kate Middleton, although Middleton's maiden name was included in a different section.
When it comes to Prince Harry, his name is actually Henry Charles Albert David. Knowing his name is so long makes it little easier to understand why, exactly, he'd be just fine going by Prince Harry. Can you blame him?
And according to how the Royal Family's official website explains everything, the reason for the family's surname working the way it does actually makes a lot of sense. The site says:
Kings and princes were historically known by the names of the countries over which they and their families ruled. Kings and queens therefore signed themselves by their first names only, a tradition in the United Kingdom which has continued to the present day.
The site goes on to say that in 1917, George V chose the name Windsor as the family's dynasty name and surname, declaring that all of Queen Victoria's descendants would take that name, later adding in Mountbatten since that's Queen Elizabeth's husband Prince Philip's last name. So, when surnames are necessary for legal or other purposes, "Mountbatten-Windsor" is what the family has chosen to use.
They also sometimes choose to use their title in place of a first and last name, as in "Prince Henry of Wales." In fact, Harry used "Wales" as his last name when he was in the army and went by "Captain Wales", according to the Telegraph.
Similarly, Middleton and William, aka the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have the option to use "Cambridge", pulling from their title. When Prince George started school, it was decided that he would go by George Cambridge, so that's a possibility for the family, too.
So, when it comes to Markle, it sounds like she wouldn't use a last name either once given her title, and when she did need to use a last name she would probably either use Mountbatten-Windor, like Harry, or use her maiden name. If they have children, they would also take the same last name, or go by Wales, similarly to how George goes by George Cambridge. Hopefully, the kids won't have to write out anything too long when they're five and learning how to write for the first time.
Now that Harry and Markle have officially announced that their wedding is set for May 2018, the countdown is on. There are only about six months standing between us and the next royal wedding, which is sure to be an incredible event worth staying up all night to watch. And now, if you're planning to get them any monogrammed gifts, you know that the letters you're looking for are "M-W" on those personalized wine glasses.