With possible plans to spend a part of their first baby’s early childhood in Africa, one of the first photos the offspring of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle poses for could end up being in a passport.
But with a British father and an American mother, what kind of passport will the infant have? And do British royals even need passports?
The royal baby – which is due to be born imminently – will certainly need a travel document if it leaves the UK. Only Britain’s Queen Elizabeth is exempt, since all UK passports are issued in her name.
Dual citizenship questions
Issued by a country’s government, a passport verifies the holder’s identity and citizenship, sanctioning them to travel to and from foreign countries under its protection.
However, citizenship is a legal status that recognizes a person as a member of a particular country with the right to live there as well as work, vote and pay taxes.
Former “Suits” actress Meghan is currently in the process of becoming a UK citizen, but this could take several years.
Last year, a spokesperson for the 37-year-old declared that it was “too early to say” if she would retain dual nationality, or renounce her US citizenship. So what does this mean for her child?
“The royal baby is automatically a dual citizen by virtue of his or her birth in the UK to a British and American parent,” a spokesperson for leading UK immigration law firm DavidsonMorris told CNN.
“US immigration law doesn’t require the child of a US citizen and an alien [or non-citizen] to be born in the US for the child to acquire US citizenship.”
The offspring of an American can acquire US citizenship as long as their parent lived in America “for a minimum five-year period prior to the birth of the child overseas,” at least two of which were after the age of 14 – according to the US Department of State.
Meghan, who was born and raised in Los Angeles, easily meets these requirements.
She moved to Toronto in 2011, before relocating to London in 2017 after confirming her engagement to Harry.
The pair married in May 2018 and announced they were expecting their first child just five months later.
“The automatic nature of the royal baby’s birth rights mean, he or she doesn’t need to register for either nationality,” the spokesperson continued.
“Instead, the royal parents can simply apply for British and US passports on his or her behalf.”
While the baby will automatically be a US citizen, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will have to report their child’s birth to an American consulate, and the child will be eligible to pay US taxes.
The couple’s child wouldn’t be the first member of the royal family with dual citizenship.
Savannah and Isla, the two daughters of Peter Phillips, the Queen Elizabeth’s oldest grandchild, and his wife Autumn, hold dual Canadian citizenship.
Autumn, who was born in Montreal, retained her Canadian citizenship when she married Princess Anne’s son in 2008.
However, the child would certainly be the first royal offspring with dual US-UK citizenship.
The article has been updated to clarify the difference between citizenship status and passport eligibility.