If you’ve ever caught an episode of The Crown and found yourself scratching your head after hearing all the royals’ titles and how people address each of them, know that you are not alone. How come Prince Philip is not king? Is the Duchess of Cambridge a princess? When do you use Your Majesty or Your Royal Highness? Here's a guide in case you run into them.
The title is the part of what precedes the royal’s name; the style is how one should address them.
What do I do if I ever get to meet the Queen?
When greeting the Queen, you may address her as Your Majesty, followed by a neck bow for the men and a small curtsy for women. A simple handshake can do as well. This address is reserved for the Queen or the highest reigning monarch alone, for use in relation to the United Kingdom and all of the territories under the Commonwealth. There is no formal code of conduct when meeting a member of the Royal Family, but many would just like to observe the traditional form.
Who is Queen Elizabeth II’s Heir Apparent?
This title pertains to the immediate successor to the Crown. In present case, Queen Elizabeth’s Heir Apparent is Prince Charles, while his son, Prince William, will become Heir Apparent once he ascends to the throne. Prince George and Princess Charlotte are third and fourth in line, respectively, and then Prince Harry comes after.
What if I run into Prince William or Prince Harry?
First, lucky you! But even if it may only happen in your dreams, you must learn how to behave around them. Address any member of the Royal Family as "His/Her Royal Highness," followed subsequently by "Sir" or "Ma’am." However, the style is lost to a non-birthright royal upon divorce, which is why Diana lost the HRH style after she separated from Prince Charles.
Should I call Kate Middleton a princess?
We don’t get to call Kate Middleton “Princess Catherine” because you have to be born into the role to receive that address (the same goes for Lady Diana). She is, however, Princess William of Wales by marriage and we should be able to address her as Her Royal Highness Catherine, Princess of Wales when Prince William becomes the Prince of Wales when his father finally ascends to the throne. This also means that the lucky lady who does wed Prince Harry will not be called Princess so-and-so (sorry, hopefuls).
What if I want my own royal title or style?
Commoners can marry into royalty, which is becoming the trend these days. Kate Middleton is the first commoner to marry the heir to the British throne in three centuries. Other former commoners include Queen Letizia of Spain, who was once a newscaster, and Princess Charlene of Monaco, an Olympic swimmer. Unfortunately, not everyone gets an esteemed style. The late New York socialite and divorcee Wallis Simpson married the abdicated King of England (Queen Elizabeth II's uncle), Edward VIII, but she was denied the style Her Royal Highness on her wedding day, as per the new king’s orders. The Queen Mother, Queen Elizabeth, looked down at her as "the lowest of the low" for having "three husbands alive." Although, she was still Duchess of Windsor.