It suddenly occurred to us that we have no idea if Prince Harry has a last name.
William Shakespeare famously wrote in Romeo and Juliet, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet.”
By this, Shakespeare means that a name is insignificant. You are who you are regardless of what you’re called. However, that doesn’t exactly apply to Prince Harry, whose name once defined him. While we mostly know him as Prince Harry, there is more to the story.
Does Prince Harry have a last name? As with most things involving the British Royal Family, it’s complicated.
Does Prince Harry even have a last name? Kind of.
The BBC obtained a copy of Prince Harry’s son Archie’s birth certificate. On it, the father is listed as His Royal Highness Henry Charles Albert David Duke of Sussex. This was in May 2019, a full year before Prince Harry would break away from the royal family, dropping “His Royal Highness” from his name.
Despite no longer publicly using His Royal Highness, Harry still kept the title. Royal correspondent Rebecca English tweeted in January 2020 that, “Royal officials agreed to let the couple keep their HRH titles as they feared, if they were stripped of them, they would have to curtsey to Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie.” (Hey, anything to save those knees.)
The Daily Mail reported that, while finishing up his final duties as a royal, Prince Harry was in Edinburgh to help launch a new eco-friendly travel firm. While speaking to the crowd, he asked the person who brought him onstage to just call him Harry.
But this still doesn’t quite get us to his last name. Back in 2011, while serving in the military, he was promoted and was called Captain Harry Wales, per The Telegraph.
However, we haven’t seen much use of Harry Wales. In all likelihood, when he needs to use the last name, he could go with Mountbatten-Windsor. In 1960, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip wanted to establish their own line of succession via a new surname. “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,” per the Royal Family.
Where did Mountbatten-Windsor come from?
Last names are relatively new for the British Royal Family. Prior to 1917, they used the “name of the house or dynasty to which they belonged,” via the Royal Family website. For example, Henry VIII was a member of the Tudor dynasty. Occasionally a rival faction would take over and the line of succession would change.
In 1917, Queen Elizabeth’s father, George V, “adopted Windsor, not only as the name of the ‘House’ or dynasty but also as the surname of his family.”
Fast-forward 30 years to 1947. When Prince Philip of Greece became a British citizen, he adopted the last name, Mountbatten. When he and Elizabeth were married, Mountbatten-Windsor was born. What we need now is a good old-fashioned dynasty shakeup. Don’t factions wage wars against each other anymore?