Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attends a garden party at Buckingham Palace, in London, Britain May 22, 2018.
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attends a garden party at Buckingham Palace, in London, Britain May 22, 2018. Dominic Lipinski/Pool via Reuters

Meghan Markle’s father was not given his own coat of arms, contrary to earlier speculations. When commoner Kate Middleton married Prince William in 2011, her father was bestowed his coat of arms. So why didn’t Thomas Markle receive one?

It was expected that Mr Markle, who was unable to attend his daughter’s wedding to Prince Harry on Saturday, that he would be bestowed by Queen Elizabeth II a coat of arms. After all, Her Majesty bestowed commoner Michael Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge’s father, a family insignia that can be inherited by his children.

The father of Sophie Rhys-Jones, who is now Sophie, Countess of Wessex, also received his coat of arms. The Rhys-Joneses were also commoners.

Kate Middleton's family coat of arms
The new Coat of Arms for Kate Middleton's family is displayed at the College of Arms in London April 18, 2011. Reuters/Suzanne Plunkett

It is not certain if Thomas would not receive an insignia, but in the case of Kate and Sophie, their families’ coats of arms were made public in the weeks leading to their respective weddings. And so it’s highly likely that Thomas did not and would not receive the honour.

Royal snub

According to Meghan’s half-sister, Samantha Grant, the move was an insult to their father. The outspoken older sibling, who has been hurling insults at the former “Suits” actress since the announcement of her engagement to Harry, claimed that by not giving Thomas a coat of arms, the Royal family had insulted Thomas.

“To exclude him off a coat of arms is really stripping him of an honour, and it’s a huge insult,” she told The Sun. “After a heart attack, that would be cruel and isolating.”

Thomas wasn’t able to attend Meghan and Harry’s wedding because of health concerns. He had undergone heart surgery a few days before the wedding and was forbidden by his doctors to go.

Samantha further said that the British royals shouldn’t feel superior to the Markles because they had their own “generations of scandal.” “You’ve got inbreeding, you’ve got substance abuse, you’ve got alcohol abuse, you’ve got infidelity,” she continued. “On what grounds could the royals feel that the Markles are somehow not worthy? That’s the pot calling the kettle black.”

Samantha also claimed Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, cashed in on her daughter’s fame at the royal wedding. As a lone attendee from the bride’s side of the family, Doria has received praises from all over the world for her class and grace as she stood by her daughter’s side during the wedding on Saturday.

Why Thomas Markle didn’t get his coat of arms

A senior source at the College of Arms, which acts on behalf of the Crown, told the Daily Mail that it’s because giving Thomas a coat of arms would be “too complicated.” “The Palace has instructed us to use the example of the Duchess of Gloucester and give Meghan Markle her own coat of arms instead,” the source said.

The source was referring to Birgitte, Duchess of Gloucester, who married Prince Richard, the Queen’s first cousin, in 1972. Birgitte first used her father’s family name of Henriksen but changed to her mother’s ancestral name of van Deurs when her parents separated when she 19. Instead of bestowing her father a coat of arms, the Queen instead honoured Birgitte with her own.

Apparently, to qualify for armigerous status, or the right to bear heraldic arms, foreigners must prove they had an ancestor who was a subject of the crown. Birgitte was Danish, and therefore it would be difficult for her to prove it. Meghan, however, had an ancestor named Mary Smith, who was a maid at Windsor Castle in 1856.

It is still not known what Meghan’s coat of arms would look like, although it is likely she would share Harry’s own. If she received her own Arms, it would not extend to her family, from whom she is reportedly estranged anyway. The Queen might also grant the Harry and Meghan a conjugal coat of arms, just like she did to Prince William and Kate two years after their wedding.

The conjugal arms of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge
The conjugal arms of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

Harry’s coat of arms

When Harry turned 18 in 2002, he was honoured with his own coat of arms. His was similar to his older brother’s, with just a few differences. Both have escallops, which allude to their mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, whose Spencer family’s coat of arms includes three escallop shells.

Coat of arms of Prince Harry of Wales
Coat of arms of Prince Harry of Wales Creative Commons

Prince William's coat of arms plus Spencer family's
The new coat of arms of Britain's Prince William (R) are seen next to those of his late mother, Diana, Princess of Wales in this combination photograph released by the College of Arms July 10. William has paid tribute to his mother, in the new coat of arms that mark his 18th birthday, by restoring Diana's family insignia - a small scallop shell which derives from her Spencer family coat - which he incorporated in the new insignia. Handout via Reuters