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Ancient Law Says Meghan Markle Won’t Have Full Parenting Rights Over Her Kids — But the Queen Will

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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have talked openly about wanting kids, but there’s one royal rule that might take some getting used to: They won’t have custody of their children. Technically, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex won’t have full control over their own kids — the queen will. 

The issue of custody stems from an old rule from the 1700s. “The sovereign has legal custody of the minor grandchildren,” royal expert Marlene Koenig told news.com.au. “This goes back to King George I [who ruled in the early 1700s], and the law’s never been changed. He did it because he had a very poor relationship with his son, the future King George II, so they had this law passed that meant the king was the guardian of his grandchildren.”

King George III upheld the law in 1772, and since then it’s never been struck down. Though it’s Queen Elizabeth‘s choice how involved she wants to be in raising her descendants, we suspect she’ll be quite hands-off, as she’s been with princes George and Louis, and Princess Charlotte.

That said, this royal rule definitely still has implications for members of the royal family with children. “When [princes Harry and William] were little, Prince Charles asked the queen if both children could fly on a plane together to Scotland, to which the queen said yes,” Koenig said. “Technically, they needed permission for travel. The queen has the last word on parenting decisions like that.”

When Princess Diana died, her will stipulated that her brother and mother should be Prince William and Prince Harry’s legal guardians. However, because of this royal rule, the queen technically had custody of her grandsons and, therefore, final say — the boys would remain with her and their father. 

Prince Charles will assume the same powers once he becomes king, but Koenig believes he’ll let his sons parent as they wish. “He understands they want to raise their children privately … the only thing Charles might ask for is more pictures,” she joked.

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