Heritage

A Glossary of Every Royal Word You Need to Know

The royal family basically has their own language.
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If you're planning to become royalty one day—and thankfully we know that can happen now (thank you Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle)—you'll need to know everything about their lingo. And we wouldn't be the first to tell you that there's a lot to learn—it can get pretty confusing. Lucky for you, we've created a glossary of all the titles, words, phrases, and family history you'd need to know. Grab your tiara and get to studying before you meet Her Majesty.


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Queen: The title given to the reigning monarch if that monarch is a woman.

Queen Elizabeth II is the obvious example here. Elizabeth became the Queen of England upon her father’s death in February 1952 as she was the rightful heir to the throne.


King: The title given to the reigning monarch if that monarch is a man.

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Pictured here is King George VI, who was the father of Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret. He was originally second in line to the throne, preceded by his brother King Edward VIII who abdicated it to marry a two-time divorcee, Wallis Simpson.


Queen Consort: The title given to the wife of a King.

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Duchess of Cambridge will receive this title should Prince William take the throne in the future.


Prince: A title given to the husband of a reigning queen, and to the sons and grandsons of the sons of a reigning monarch.

Wow, confusing... right? Only grandchildren born to the sons of the reigning monarch are given the title prince or princess (see next slide). So, little George is a prince because his grandfather is a son of the queen.

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But then Queen Elizabeth's husband, Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, adds to the confusion. Philip is a British prince (technically prince consort) by marriage, but he was also born a prince of Greece and Denmark. When he married Elizabeth, Philip had to renounce his other royal titles. In 1957, Elizabeth then made him a British prince (as seen in The Crown), adding Prince to his title once again.


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Princess: The title given to the daughters of a prince or the British sovereign, or the wife of a prince.

Charlotte is one of three great-granddaughters to the queen, but the only one with a princess title. Royal titles are inherited through sons, so the daughters of the Queen's three sons—Charles, Andrew, and Edward—can be princes or princesses. This means Peter Phillips and Zara Tindall, the children of Princess Anne (given the upgraded title, Princess Royal) do not have royal titles, nor do their kids. Prince Edward's daughter is Lady Louise rather than Princess Louise, a decision he made when married Sophie Rhys-Jones.

Kate is technically a princessby marriage (HRH Princess William of Wales—think of it like a last name) but she will never be referred to as "Princess Kate."


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Peerage: A title or ranking of peers.

Peer of the Realm: A person who hold one or more of five possible titles, whether inherited by ancestry or given to them by the monarch.

In British peerage, the rankings after King and Queen are as follows: Duke, Marquess, Earl, Viscount, Baron. It is possible to hold more than one title. Take for example Prince William, who was given the title Duke of Cambridge after marrying Kate Middleton.


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Duke: The highest, most exclusive ranking of five degrees after King or Queen.

Duchess: The wife of a duke, or the female title of the highest ranking.

When Kate and William were married, they were given the titles Duke and Duchess of Cambridge by the queen. William still holds the title Prince, but Kate did not receive the title Princess.

NOTE: The second highest ranking in British peerage is Marquess/Marchioness, but it is never given as a Royal title.


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Earl: The third highest ranking in the British peerage.

Countess: The wife of an earl, or female title for the third highest ranking.

Queen Elizabeth's youngest son, Prince Edward, is the only son to be given Earl as a title. When he and Sophie married, they became the Earl and Countess of Wessex. Supposedly Prince Edward chose his secondary title because of its connotations to his favorite film, Shakespeare in Love.


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Viscount: The fourth highest ranking in the British peerage.

Prince Edward and Sophie's son James was given the title of Viscount at birth as it is the customary title below Earl. He is known as Lord Severn or James, Viscount Severn.

NOTE: Baron is the fifth and final rank of the peerage. There are no royal barons at this time.


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Courtesy Titles: A form of address used in by the children and close relatives or peers. This style is "‘by courtesy’ in the sense that the users do not themselves hold their own titles.

Lady Louise Windsor is the daughter of the Earl and Countess of Wessex (Edward and Sophie). She was given a courtesy title at birth. Both children would have been given the titles prince and princess had their father taken the title of Duke. There was speculation around giving their children lower titles to lessen the burden of being royalty.


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HRH: Stands for "His/Her Royal Highness."

TRH: Stands for "Their Royal Highnesses."

Meghan Markle will join the crew and become an HRH when she marries Prince Harry.


HM: Stands for "Her Majesty."

If you ever meet the queen, never refer to her as HRH. She is always to be called Her Majesty.

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Succession: The sequence of members of the Royal Family in the order in which they stand in line to the throne, regulated by descent and Parliamentary statute.

1st in Line — Prince Charles, Duke of Wales

2nd in Line — Prince William, Duke of Cambridge

3rd in Line — Prince George

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4th in Line — Princess Charlotte

FUN FACT: Princess Charlotte would not have been in line for the throne if it weren't for a Succession to the Crown Act that passed in 2013 that said princes no longer take precedence over their sisters.


Buckingham Palace: Home to Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

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The palace has been the home of all sovereigns to reign England since 1837. Buckingham Palace has 775 rooms, including 19 Staterooms, 52 Royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices, and 78 bathrooms.


Kensington Palace: It serves as a home for lots of the royal family, and is even a museum open to the public.

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Who Lives Here: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry (and soon to be Meghan Markle), Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, the Duke and Duchess of Kent, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, and Princess Eugenie.


Nottingham Cottage: A small 1,300-square-foot, two-bedroom apartment in Kensington Palace.

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Let it be known that this is the place where Prince Harry proposed to Meghan Markle while roasting a chicken. The cottage is located in Kensington Palace.


Clarence House: The official residence of Prince Charles and Camilla.

It also houses offices for staff members of TRH (you know what that means now!). Clarence House was previously the home to Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother from 1953 to 2002.

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Westminster Abbey: A London church, significant for royal coronations, weddings, funerals, and other national ceremonies. (It's also known as the Collegiate Church of St. Peter.)

It was the place where Elizabeth was crowned Queen of England in 1953, the place where Princess Diana's funeral was held, and the place where Prince William and Kate Middleton got married.

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Windsor Castle: The oldest occupied palace sits in Berkshire, just west of London.

Meghan Markle will marry Prince Harry in Windsor Castle on May 19. It is also a place where Queen Elizabeth II hosts state dinners and spends all of her weekends.


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Sandringham Estate: Owned by the royal family, it is the personal home of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip.

The Queen typically spends Christmas at the estate with the entire royal family. The Duke of Edinburgh is responsible for the upkeep of the estate.


Abdicate: To give up or step down from a position of power as a monarch.

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Edward VIII (AKA The Queen's uncle), was the rightful heir to the throne, but he gave up the throne to marry Wallis Simpson, a woman who'd been divorced twice. This scandal changed the entire line of succession, ultimately determining that a young Elizabeth would become Queen of England one day.


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Commonwealth: A group of people organized under a political system in which the power lies in the body of citizens.

Commoner: An ordinary person that holds no title or rank.

Before she was engaged to Prince Harry, Meghan Markle was a commoner, just like us (well, except for the fact that she was the star of the TV show Suits).


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Interregnum: the period between the reign of two leaders.

After King George VII Died in February 1952, Elizabeth became Queen. But her official coronation wasn't until June of 1953.


Sofa: The term used for a settee or a couch.

Drawing/Sitting Rooms: The phrase used for a living room.

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Lavatory: The term used for bathroom, toilet, or even ladies room.

These are a few words and phrases used in British high society, that truly stand out as royal terminology.


Mummy: The term used for the mother or mom.

Daddy: The term used for father or dad.

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The everyday British person refer to their parents as "mum and dad." But reportedly the royals call them "mummy and daddy."


Scent: The term used for perfume. 

Princess Diana's favorite scent was Quelques Fleurs, "a floral scent featuring notes of tuberose, rose, and jasmine."


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Sovereign: A supreme ruler or leader, especially a monarch.

Letters Patent: An open letter from the monarch in which peerage titles are given.

Queen Elizabeth II is the sovereign and she delivers the letters patent, decreeing who gets what title.


Tea: This is a BANNED word in the royal family.

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Despite our preconceived notions about the royal family "having tea" all the time, they prefer to say "supper" or "dinner."


Last Name: Mountbatten-Winsdor or House of Windsor, depending on a person's peerage ranking.

The royal family doesn't technically use a last name—but they do have a few options. King George V (Elizabeth's grandfather) was the first to give the royals a surname, which was "House of Windsor" after the family's property, Windsor Castle. In 1960, Queen Elizabeth decreed all descents would carry the name Mountbatten-Windsor. Mountbatten was the last name of Prince Philip.

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Royal Marriages Act: A royal member of the family cannot marry without the consent of the reigning monarch.

Set in place by King George II in 1772, the act has since changed to only the first six in line to the throne needing permission from the monarch. Even once his new niece or nephew is born, that'll still include Prince Harry who would be sixth in line. Lucky for Meghan Markle, the Queen approves.

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From: Marie Claire US

This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.

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