Americans and royal titles

meghan sussex
Trinity Mirror / Mirrorpix / Alamy Stock Photo

Several Americans have been born with royal titles or have gained titles through marriage. The United States Constitution says that Americans cannot accept titles from foreign powers without the consent of Congress. What does that mean for the Americans who hold titles?

Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the U.S. Constitution, also called the Foreign Emoluments Clause, states: “No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.”

The U.S. Constitution’s Title of Nobility Clause does not explicitly ban an American citizen from being royal or a king. It only states that the U.S. government cannot grant any title of nobility.

Now, for those who are born on American soil to royal parents – they are automatically American citizens by being born on U.S. soil; they are also citizens of their kingdoms. In the case of Princess Leonore of Sweden, she was born in the United States and holds dual U.S./Swedish citizenship. Her grandfather, King Carl XVI Gustaf, gave her the duchy of Gotland and the title of Princess of Sweden. The American government did not object. Nor have they objected to other similar situations with royals from other countries.

However, specifically, people have argued about Archie and Lili Mountbatten-Windsor holding future titles as Americans. Does the Constitution ban that?

Several royals have been born in and outside the United States and hold royal titles. The U.S. Congress has made no issue of that. The Prince and Princess of Monaco’s first child, Princess Caroline, was born on 23 January 1957. Before the birth of Caroline, the United States consul in Nice, France, requested that the U.S. State Department make a ruling on the citizenship status of Grace, who retained her American citizenship, and Rainer’s children. Reportedly, the consul was told that their children would be born dual citizens of both the United States and Monaco. Their second child, Prince Albert, was born on 14 March 1958. Their third child, Princess Stéphanie, was born on 1 February 1965. All three children were born in the Prince’s Palace of Monaco.

Reigning Prince Albert II of Monaco held American citizenship until he was 21 when he renounced it. He could not be the Sovereign Prince of Monaco and a U.S. citizen. There has been no announcement of his two sisters ever renouncing their American citizenship.

The only monarch to ever be born in the United States, the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand (or Rama IX) was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, while his father was studying at Harvard University. Thailand does not allow dual citizenship, so the King had to renounce this U.S. citizenship by the time he turned 18.

It should be noted that U.S. Presidents have received foreign honours from the U.K. (Presidents Reagan, Bush and Eisenhower) and other foreign powers. For example, President Bill Clinton, President George W. Bush, President Barack Obama and President Donald Trump all received the Order of King Abdulaziz from the Saudi monarch. Congress did not object to any of these, nor have they objected to private citizens (think Bobe Hope, Bill and Melinda Gates and Angelina Jolie) receiving orders from foreign powers.

Attorneys have argued over the matter, and many believe the Constitution is only referring to the U.S. government handing out royal titles or gifts – not that of foreign monarchies.

Now, if Archie and Lilie become Prince Archie and Princess Lili when their grandfather, Prince Charles, ascends the throne, neither of the two could hold public office in the United States while also holding the title of prince/princess. They would have to give up their title to run for public office – unless Congress consents to them holding their titles and running for public office. But this is unlikely.

However, there is a constitutional amendment that has never been passed that would revoke U.S. citizenship from any American who accepts a foreign title of nobility. The amendment was proposed in 1810, and any constitutional amendment must require a 2/3 vote of both Houses of Congress AND be ratified by 3/4 of state assemblies. Twelve states have voted to approve the amendment; however, no votes have taken place since 1814.

About Brittani Barger 97 Articles
My name is Brittani, and I am from Tennessee, USA. I have a B.A. in Political Science and History from the University of Tennessee: Knoxville, and a master’s degree from Northeastern University. I’ve been passionate about history since I was a child. My favorite areas to study and research are World War II through the Cold War, as well as studying the ancient Romans and Egyptians. Aside from pursuing my passion for writing about history, I am a reporter for Royal News (our sister site!). I am also an avid reader who believes you can never stop learning! On any weekend in the fall, you can find me watching college football (American football) and cheering on my Tennessee Volunteers! You can contact me on Twitter @bbargerRC .

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