Why Harry and Meghan’s Child Will Have a Different Last Name Than Prince George and Princess Charlotte

The new royal baby is due this spring.

The Duke & Duchess Of Sussex Visit Sussex
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Kensington Palace confirmed Monday that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are expecting their first child. When the royal baby is born in the spring, the last name on the birth certificate may be very different that that of his or her royal cousins.

In April, Prince William and Kate Middleton's third child, Prince Louis, became the most recent addition to the British royal family. His birth certificate, below, showed his surname as "His Royal Highness Prince Louis Arthur Charles of Cambridge."

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Cambridge is Prince William and Kate Middleton's assigned dukedom, and royal expert Marlene Koenig tells Town & Country, "George and Charlotte use Cambridge as a surname at school at this time."

Since Prince Harry and Meghan are the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, their child will likely use Sussex as his or her last name in school or other government paperwork.

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However, there is a second surname (the British term for last name) that Harry and Meghan's child may use: Mountbatten-Windsor.

"In 1952, after Queen Elizabeth II succeeded, she issued a Letters Patent (LP) that stated the House family and the family name will be Windsor," Koenig says. "In 1960, she issued a new LP that stated the House name would remain Windsor, but the family name would be Mountbatten Windsor."

The family name stems from Prince Phillip's surname, which is Mountbatten, and the name Queen Elizabeth II's grandfather, King George V, took on, Windsor, after Windsor Castle in 1917.

The royal family's website explains its history here:

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The Royal Family name of Windsor was confirmed by The Queen after her accession in 1952. However, in 1960, The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh decided that they would like their own direct descendants to be distinguished from the rest of the Royal Family (without changing the name of the Royal House), as Windsor is the surname used by all the male and unmarried female descendants of George V. It was therefore declared in the Privy Council that The Queen's descendants, other than those with the style of Royal Highness and the title of Prince/Princess, or female descendants who marry, would carry the name of Mountbatten-Windsor.

It's important to note, though, that Harry and Meghan are not your typical royal couple. Meghan is the first American-born princess in years, so would the Duchess of Sussex want her child to carry her former last name, Markle, too?

The short answer is no. Koenig explains that because Meghan is technically not a Markle anymore herself, the royal baby will not use that last name. After tying the knot to Prince Harry, Meghan became Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex.

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However, Harry and Meghan's child may choose not to use a last name at all. Koenig adds, "In real life, royals do not use a surname. They sign their first name only. Their titles will be on their passports."

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