There's been so much excitement surrounding Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's upcoming wedding. Once the pair do get married, will Meghan Markle change her last name? If history is any indication, her name situation may be a a little different than your average non-royal.
Last names and royals don't go together in the most traditional sense. Typically, they don't go by a last name, at all, or even have a set one. On Prince George's birth certificate, there isn't a surname listed, as the Daily Mail notes. The young prince's birth certificate also reveals something interesting about what one might expect Markle to go by once she becomes a royal. On the certificate, her future sister-in-law, Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, did not put anything in the way of a surname. She simply listed her first and middle name, along with her new royal title. The Duchess did list her maiden name, Middleton, on the paperwork, but not as a current last name.
Like Markle, Catherine was what one would consider a "commoner" when she married Prince William. So, it stands to reason that Markle might fashion her name in a similar manner to her. Even though the Duchess of Cambridge isn't addressed by an official last name, people still often refer to her as Kate Middleton. And it's likely that people will also still call Markle, "Meghan Markle."
Of course, it's more common for members of the royal family, who were actually born into the family, to simply go by their first names and titles, such as the former actor's fiancé, Harry, the Prince of Wales. Since Markle's marrying into this tradition, she'll follow their protocol with whatever title she's bestowed with on her wedding day (many are assuming that it will be the Duchess of Sussex), but since she became known as "Meghan Markle" people will likely still call her that even with it not being her official name and title any longer.
There have been occasions when the royals have to use a last name. In those instances, there are a couple of options they have for their surname. Members of the royal family have used their titles as last names in certain situations. When Prince George started school in September, his parents decided that he would go by "George Cambridge," which ties back to his Prince of Cambridge title. George's father, William, has also used his title "Wales" as a surname at times, as did Harry. When Markle's beau was in the army, he was known as "Captain Wales," which ties back to his own title.
The royals aren't totally devoid of a last name, if you want to really get into some royal history. On the British Royal Family's official website, they described that when there is a need for a surname, the family goes by their house or dynasty, which is "Mountbatten-Windsor." The name derives partly from Queen Elizabeth's house of Windsor, which itself was originally Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (after the house of Queen Victoria's husband Prince Albert). The Mountbatten reflects Elizabeth's husband, Prince Philip, and his naturalized last name.
Yet, even though this would be the surname used for all descendants of the queen, monarchs are still considered to be in the House of Windsor when they assume the throne, according to the royal family's website. Confusing? Maybe. Completely royal? Definitely.
Honestly, Meghan Mountbatten-Windsor has a pretty good ring to it. Although, you'll probably never hear anyone refer to her as such. She'll likely go by her Duchess title or go all Beyoncé sans last name. But, who really knows exactly what Markle will do with her name once she weds Prince Harry? Maybe she'll break tradition and continue to use "Markle" on any official documents. Royal watchers will just have to wait and see.