What Could Happen If Prince Harry Becomes A U.S. Citizen?

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have faced intense scrutiny since they began their courtship in 2016. Over the years, they tied the knot, departed from the royal family, and settled in the United States. Throughout their journey, they've confronted security challenges, public disapproval, and relentless media criticism.

Despite the vitriol that's been thrown their way, there are times when Harry and Meghan just seem like a normal couple adapting to life outside "the firm." But just when it seems like the drama surrounding the Sussexes is subsiding, it rears its regal brow once again. 

In February 2024, Harry revealed that he considered applying for U.S. citizenship. When asked by Good Morning America if anything is stopping him from becoming a U.S. citizen, the prince replied, "I have no idea. ... American citizenship is a thought that has crossed my mind, but certainly is not something that is a high priority for me right now." Insiders contend that Harry becoming a U.S. citizen is a rather farfetched prospect. However, throughout the years there have been some dubious theories about Harry and Meghan that turned out to be true. Only time will tell whether the rebel prince will leave Blighty behind for good, but in the interest of speculation, what exactly could happen if Prince Harry becomes a U.S. citizen?

Acquiring U.S. citizenship won't be an easy road for Prince Harry

If Prince Harry did seek to obtain U.S. citizenship, such a move would be unprecedented and raises a whole host of concerns. It's also far from a seamless process, with Harry having to undergo various tests in order to be eligible for citizenship.

In 2020, attorneys told The Guardian that Harry would not be entitled to citizenship simply due to his marriage to Meghan Markle, however, she could sponsor him for a green card. "But it's not instantaneous, there's no such thing as automatic, and citizenship happens later," explained immigration lawey Karin Wolman. For instance, the prince's shady past — namely his infamous Nazi regalia — may prove a potential barrier to his application. "He has to show good moral character, which means no criminal act or violation of immigration law or act of persecution that would make him inadmissible," offered lawyer Glenn Bank. 

However, Harry may be eligible for an O-1 Visa: Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement due to his philanthropic endeavors, namely his mental health advocacy work. "Because of his own experience and speaking out on behalf of others about mental health, he might qualify," Wolman told The Times. Whatever route he may choose to go down, he will have a long and difficult road ahead of him.

Prince Harry would have to relinquish his royal titles

While the U.K. has centuries-long traditions of peerage and nobility, the U.S. couldn't be more different. Unlike the U.K. class system, in which aristocrats make up the upper classes, the U.S. does not recognize hereditary titles. Under U.S. law, anyone seeking American citizenship must relinquish their hereditary title.

When Prince Harry and Meghan Markle left the royal family in 2020, they had to give up their HRH titles. Nevertheless, Harry is still a prince and fifth in line to the throne, and he and his wife are still permitted to use their Duke and Duchess of Sussex monikers. But all that could change if Harry pursues U.S. citizenship. Per the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, "Any applicant who has any titles of heredity or positions of nobility in any foreign state must renounce the title or the position ... Failure to renounce the title of position shows a lack of attachment to the Constitution."

As for whether he could remain fifth in line to the throne, that fate lies in the hands of the British government — and this is where matters get even more complicated. "This also begs the question: if he gives his title up and becomes a U.S. citizen, can he get his title and place in the queue back?" immigration expert Christi Hufford Jackson posited to The Telegraph. "If he did, he would very possibly lose his U.S. citizenship as it could be considered an expatriating act."

Renouncing his U.K. citizenship may cause irreparable damage to his relationships with British royals

Since leaving the U.K., Prince Harry has been at odds with his fellow royals. Such animosity was exacerbated following the release of the prince's 2023 memoir, "Spare," in which he threw shade at several royals. Notably, he called Camilla, Queen Consort, "dangerous" and described how she used him to "rehabilitate" her poor public image. But most damning was Harry's claim that his brother physically assaulted him. 

According to the memoir, Prince William became enraged after Harry accused him of being complicit in anti-Meghan propaganda. "It all happened so fast ... He grabbed me by the collar, ripping my necklace," Harry wrote. "And he knocked me to the floor. I landed on the dog's bowl, which cracked under my back, the pieces cutting into me." As insiders told The Sun, William was deeply hurt by the allegations, vowing to never speak to his brother again. At this point, it appeared there was no mending the rift between the brothers. If Harry were to renounce his U.K. citizenship, it would undoubtedly be the final nail in the coffin.

But it's for this very reason that insiders doubt whether Harry will pursue U.S. citizenship. "There is really no earthly reason why, after being accused of turning his back on his family and his country, Harry would want to twist the knife by seeking U.S. citizenship," royal author Christopher Anderson told Fox News (via Express).

The prince will have to undergo medical testing to become a U.S. citizen

There are strict rules in place for those seeking to apply for U.S. citizenship. In his memoir, Prince Harry revealed he experimented with various illicit substances in his youth. Accordingly, he may have to undergo rigorous medical testing to become a U.S. citizen and prove he's clean.

Those with a history of substance use are usually not even allowed into the U.S., as has happened to a number of British celebrities. For instance, in 2014, popular British chef Nigella Lawson was banned from entering the States due to an admission she had taken cocaine over a decade earlier following the death of her first husband, and after the domestic violence she suffered at the hands of her second husband. "Without exceptional circumstances, Harry would likely never be able to hold a Green Card or become a U.S. citizen if he formally admits to using cocaine," immigration lawyer Kaitlin Davies told The Sun. "If the prince admitted to any immigration officer that he had previously used illegal drugs, he would be deemed ineligible for a visa."

However, it may be possible for Harry to use his celebrity status to apply for a Waiver of Inadmissibility and prove he is no longer taking illicit substances. Harry does have some high-profile pals in the U.S., such as Barack and Michelle Obama and George Clooney, who may take it upon themselves to vouch for his moral character.

He could lend a more overt political presence in the U.S.

Since moving to the U.S., Prince Harry has been vocal about several causes close to his heart. In 2020, he expressed support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Chatting to BLM activist Patrick Hutchinson for GQ, the prince reflected on how his marriage to Meghan Markle led to him feeling greater empathy for the Black experience, acknowledging he had unconscious bias in the past. "I think one of the most dangerous things is people within positions of power, whether it's politics or whether it's the media, where if you're not aware of your own bias," Harry explained. "Everyone benefits if the black community gets treated the way they should be treated."

Speaking to Time that year, Harry, who lamented he would not be able to vote in that year's presidential election, pleaded with voters to reject hate speech and misinformation, an apparent nod to Trump. The video caused controversy, as royals are expected to remain politically neutral.

But if he were a citizen, he would be allowed to offer a greater political presence in the U.S. Namely, being stripped of his royal titles — and thus royal protocol dictating that he remain non-partisan — could enable Harry to explicitly and publicly support political candidates. As with all royals, Harry is currently unable to vote in U.K. elections, but solely being an American citizen and not a prince may enable him to vote in U.S. elections.

His future grandchildren may not be able to acquire British citizenship

Under U.K. law, anyone who is the child of someone born in the U.K. has the right to British citizenship, even if they were born in another country. This means should Prince Archie have children in the distant future, they will automatically be granted U.K. citizenship. However, his sister, Princess Lilibet, was born in California. Subsequently, Lilibet's potential future children may have difficulty obtaining citizenship in their grandfather's homeland. This is in spite of the fact that Lilibet holds a royal title.

Harry's future grandchildren will still remain in the line of succession, however. Even if the prince does renounce his royal title, this does not mean that his children will automatically be robbed of theirs. "The interesting thing is that under American law, his children could still retain the rights to their titles because they did not have to renounce citizenship to become American citizens," lawyer Alphonse Provinziano highlighted in an interview with Express. "They were born with it."

Subsequently, Provinziano explained that if Prince William's children were to ever renounce their hereditary privilege and walk away from the line of succession, Archie could become the first King of England with dual citizenship.

The fallout will likely render Prince Harry irredeemable in the eyes of the British public

British public opinion of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle has been on the decline since they walked away from their royal duties. This intensified with the couple's tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2021 and the release of "Spare" in 2023, with many deeming the couple beyond redemption due to apparent scathing attacks on the integrity of the royal family. "There's no turning back now from their latest vicious attacks," royal enthusiast Nile Gardiner told Express. "They have spectacularly burnt whatever bridges remain with Buckingham Palace but significantly, they have completely destroyed any remaining goodwill there may have been among the British people." Gardiner had previously suggested the couple was the most reviled in royal history.

Indeed, that year, it was reported Harry and Meghan's popularity rating had reached an all-time low. In fact, among the over 65s, the pair had an even lower popularity rating than the disgraced Prince Andrew, who has been accused of abusing a trafficking victim he met through his controversial friendship with Jeffrey Epstein.

Renouncing his Britishness may render Harry irredeemable to the U.K. public, the final finishing touch in his epic downfall. Then again, that doesn't mean he'll be welcomed with open arms by the American public. According to a 2024 Daily Mail poll, just a third of Americans approved of the prince applying for citizenship (it is, however, predominantly conservatives who disapprove of Harry).

Prince Harry's U.S. citizenship may impact King Charles' already frail state

King Charles and Prince Harry have been embroiled in a years-long feud. But when Buckingham Palace revealed Charles had been diagnosed with an undisclosed form of cancer in 2024, it appeared that father and son may have reconciled. Harry immediately flew to the U.K. to be with his father as he underwent treatment, though his stay reportedly only lasted 30 to 45 minutes.

While Charles was likely touched his son flew over 5,000 miles to see him, according to insiders who chatted to the Daily Mail, it may have caused him undue stress. "The Prince should also spend some time reflecting on the stress he has caused the King not least when he was coping first, with the loss of his own father, Prince Philip, and then, of course, his late mother, the Queen," said royal author Robert Jobson. "Who could be surprised if Harry were welcomed with something short of open arms?"

If Harry seeks out U.S. citizenship, this could cause further strain on the ailing king. Indeed, long before his cancer diagnosis, Charles was reportedly concerned about the impact William and Harry's ongoing feud would have on his health. "Please, boys. Don't make my final years a misery," he apparently told his sons during Prince Philip's funeral in 2022, as recounted in Harry's memoir. But now that the king has cancer, the inevitable fallout from Harry's controversies may have a detrimental effect on his recovery.

Some argue that Prince Harry becoming a U.S. citizen would benefit the British royal family

Many Brits are angry that Prince Harry has seemingly rejected everything his regal title stood for, but some have argued it would actually benefit, rather than hinder, the royals if Harry were to become a U.S. citizen.

Writing for the Daily Mail, Amanda Platell contended that Harry had become a blight on, well, Old Blighty. Accordingly, she argued it was about time he left the country and his royal title behind for good. "I said to myself: 'Harry an American citizen? Hurrah! Could we finally rid ourselves of this troublesome Prince?'" she wrote.

Moreover, Platell argued that Harry becoming a U.S. citizen, and thus titleless, would ease the burden on his sick father, who would otherwise have to make the difficult decision to revoke his son and daughter-in-law's titles himself. "For it wouldn't then be up to his loving father to decide as King whether to strip him and Meghan of their titles," Platell wrote. "Just imagine it. Harry the humanitarian, a plain Mr ... no longer railing against being a spare without a purpose. And us in Blighty enjoying peace at last from his constant whingeing." Whether Harry has been a grouch or not is a matter of opinion, but leaving the U.K. behind will undoubtedly instill the prince with renewed purpose, allowing him to strive for more than his status as "spare" could ever have afforded him.

Prince Harry shouldn't expect any favors if Donald Trump becomes president again

Donald Trump is famed for feuding with innumerable public figures. While the former president long held deep admiration and respect for Queen Elizabeth II, this reverence does not extend to her grandson, Prince Harry. Trump first began squabbling with the Sussexes after Meghan Markle accused him of being a divisive sexist back in 2016. Responding to the remarks, Trump told The Sun, "I didn't know that she was nasty."

When Trump learned Harry was considering becoming a U.S. citizen, the Republican presidential nominee was less than impressed. In an interview with Express, Trump criticized his rival, Joe Biden, for supposedly protecting Harry by not releasing details of his immigration status. Trump, meanwhile, would offer no favors to Harry if he sought U.S. citizenship. "I wouldn't protect him," he said. "He betrayed the Queen. That's unforgivable. He would be on his own if it was down to me." He also claimed that if he wins the presidency, he would deport the Duke of Sussex.

As an anonymous immigration lawyer told The Daily Beast, Trump could certainly make good on his promise. "If he is on a non-immigrant visa (such as an O-1), the easiest way for Trump to have influence would be for the Department of State to not renew his visa, or to cancel it," they explained. "DOS decisions are discretionary and very susceptible to political influence." Harry could also be banned from re-entering the country.