UK Royal Titles

Discussion about royal and noble titles in the UK

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Anonymous asked: How do titles transfer? For example George VI was previously Duke of York and then Andrew became Duke of York, does this mean when William and Kate have children the titles will shift? I know Andrew was born after the King had passed but do titles correspond with how close a person is to the thrown?

If William were to die before becoming King than George would become the Duke of Cambridge.  However if he becomes King than the title will ‘merge with the crown’ effectively meaning that it will cease to exist

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Prince George: A (projected) Life in Titles

It’s been a good couple of weeks since the world was mesmerised by the birth of our latest Royal.  Generally speaking, I’ve been rather impressed with the mainstream media’s reporting of his title, which I’m sure they’ll be relieved to hear. 

However, as of yet, I don’t think I’ve come across a detailed projection of how we can expect his titles to evolve as he moves through his life.  Enter and another sensational blog post.

As we know, the youngster is currently styled His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge.  Barring anything unexpected, he should remain this way until his grandfather’s ascension to the throne.  At that moment his father shall become Duke of Cornwall (along with a whole host of other titles) meaning that technically, he will become HRH Prince George of Cornwall and Cambridge.  I expect in reality the Cambridge will be gradually dropped.

At some stage during his grandfather’s (probably fairly brief) reign it is highly likely that William will be created Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester.  At this stage, we will be introduced to HRH Prince George of Wales. 

Roll the clock forward a few years and with the succession of King William IV (if his father chooses to be known as such) George will automatically become Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Baron of Renfrew, Lord of the Isle, Prince and Great Steward of Scotland.  He will also become THE Prince George, as children (rather than grandchildren) of the sovereign use the definite article in their style.  In reality he will be referred to as HRH The Duke of Cornwall until his likely creation as Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester, a title that can only (by custom) be bestowed upon the heir apparent but unlike the other titles, is not automatic.  At this stage he, like his grandfather today will be known HRH The Prince of Wales.

Then, one distant day in the future – when scarily, I and most of my readers will probably be dead – he will ascend the throne himself, presumably (although not definitely) taking the regnal name of George.  Depending on the title his grandfather takes, he will be known King George VII or VIII. 

There is one other possible title he may pick up along the way.  Sons of sovereigns (or those directly in line of succession) tend to receive peerages upon marriage (in the way that William was created ‘Duke of Cambridge’) primarily so that their wife can enjoy a decent title.  If George is to marry once his father has already succeeded than this will be a non-issue – he will, at the very least, be Duke of Cornwall allowing his wife to style herself a Royal Duchess.  However in the – unlikely but not impossible – event of him marrying during his father’s reign a title would need to be bestowed upon him.  Cambridge would be not be available (that’s William’s until he becomes King) but a whole host of other Royal Dukedoms including Clarence, Sussex and Windsor, will be waiting in the wings.

Filed under Prince George Prince HRH

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God bless our little prince


Congratulations to The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and God bless our little Prince and future King.

Just to confirm (as you would expect from this site) what our tiny royal’s title is.

Once named, he will be known as His Royal Highness Prince X of Cambridge.

This title depends on one set of Letters Patent and two title conventions.

It is through the letters patent on 1917 that he claims his princely style.  This declaration secured the style of Royal Highness and the titular dignity of Prince on the sons of the sovereign, sons of sons of the sovereign and the eldest son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales.  However, even had the baby been a girl, LPs issues by the Queen last year would have meant she too would have enjoyed a royal title.

By convention, the prince will not use the definite article in his title.  This is reserved for sons of sovereigns (e.g. The Prince Edward).  Also by convention he will add ‘of Cambridge’ to his title in a nod to his father’s Dukedom. However, to be clear, this is just a titular courtesy; he is a prince of the entire United Kingdom.

Over his life the prince is likely to enjoy a string of titles all of which I will blog about this week.

Filed under catherine Prince HRH

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Kate’s baby will be Royal

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

It’s official.  The Queen has issued Letters Patent to ensure that if Kate has a daughter she will be a Princess and an HRH.  In fact, this will be the case for all children of the Cambridges: 

I’m trying to track down a copy of the Letters Patent (not sure if this is even possible) but from how it’s being reported it seems as if the Queen has changed the rule in general rather than just for this occasion.

A few things are interesting about this:

1. The Queen has obviously felt the need to do this through Letters Patent.  This could be significant for the Wessex debate as it adds force to the argument that Lord Severn and Lady Louise are entitles to the Princely style.

2. Her Majesty has extended the use of the princely style in general (e.g. all children of the eldest son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales) rather than just making it gender neutral (e.g. the eldest child of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales).

3. I had wondered if when the Queen did this she would take the chance to streamline the Royal family and restrict the title for others (e.g. have the title follow the direct line of succession but not other male-line grandchildren).  She has clearly not chosen to do this.

4. The Queen has also not corrected other ‘inequality’ issues with titles.  E.g. it is still only men who can transmit the Royal style.  I suspect this will change in the future.

Hopefully more to follow… 

Filed under catherine Duke of Cambridge duchess of cambridge prince princess countess of wessex Earl of Wessex HRH

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Congratulations to the Duchess; but her baby may not be Royal

Congratulations to The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on the announcement of a forthcoming child.  As I’m sure many will agree, it’s the cherry on top of an already fantastic year for the Royal Family, which has seen the country devoted in its appreciation of the Queen during her Diamond Jubilee. 

Totes emot.

Constitutionally this is also very significant.  Given the Prime Minister’s determination to change Commonwealth succession laws, the Duchess of Cambridge is currently carrying the future King or Queen of the United Kingdom.

However, this blog– as regular readers know – is devoted to the rather narrow focus of titles.  But here again, there is much to talk about.

As I have said many times before, there is a very real chance that Kate is carrying a future Queen of the realm; but if that is the case it will be a Queen born without a Royal title.

Royal titles – or specifically the style or Royal Highness and the titular dignity of Prince or Princess – are governed by Letters Patent issued by King George V in 1917 (LP17).  This make clear that these royal dignities are restricted to the children of sovereigns, the children of sons of sovereigns and the eldest son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales.  While a son for William would have royalty immediately thrust upon him, a daughter for the royal couple (who let’s say for fun is named Elizabeth) would be known as Lady Elizabeth Mountbatten-Windsor. 

Awkward much?

Hopefully someone senior in courtly circles (who I assume is a regular follower of this poetic collection of constitutional expertise and street-talk) will take notice and make a change.  New Letters Patent could be in order.

Filed under duchess of cambridge Duke of Cambridge prince princess HRH Prince William

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The honours system is due for a shake up; could Royal titles be next?

Bryan Ferry made CBE by Queen at Buckingham Palace

I’m still debating whether or not the honours system is within the scope of this blog, but I thought the below article from the Telegraph certainly deserved a mention:

Apparently the Queen is resisting changes to the honours system which would see the ‘Empire’ in OBE etc become ‘Excellence.’  She would, it seem, prefer that such changes were delayed until her son’s reign.

This is interesting in and of itself, but it also got me thinking.  Despite all the twists and turns of modernisation in today’s Royal Family, titles have generally escaped  scrutiny.  There was some talk a few years ago about ‘shrinking down’ the number or Princes/Princesses but little has come of it.  Various other issues – including the fact that only royal men can transmit status to their children – have largely passed without challenge.

Speculation on the future evolution of Royal and noble titles, is most certainly in the scope of this blog.  Expect to see more of it.

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Anonymous asked: Please let me know why Edward could not be King and have Wallis as his wife. Charles has married Camilla and he is going to be King . I understand that both these women were divorced..

This isn’t really a titles issue, but I suppose the main reason is that times change.  Divorce was just not socially acceptable then.  Now, it is much more so.

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Life in titles: Charles, Prince of Wales


1948 – 1952: His Royal Highness Prince Charles Philip Arthur George of Edinburgh

Commonly known as:  HRH Prince Charles of Edinburgh

1952 – 1958: His Royal Highness The Prince Charles Philip Arthur George, Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Baron Renfrew, Lord of the Isle and Prince and Great Steward of Scotland

Commonly known as: HRH The Prince Charles

1958 – Present: His Royal Highness The Prince Charles Philip Arthur George, Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester, Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Baron Renfrew, Lord of the Isle and Prince and Great Steward of Scotland

Commonly known as: HRH The Prince of Wales

Titles explained

Officially called ‘Prince of Wales’ in England and Wales, ‘Duke of Rothesay’ in Scotland and with more titles than any other member of the Royal Family, the heir to the throne is most commonly known as ‘Prince Charles.’ But strangely enough, this is a title that he was very nearly born without.

As regular readers of this blog will know, the princely title and the style of Royal Highness are governed by letters patent issues by George V in 1917 (LP17).  This decree restricted the princely title (along with HRH) to the children of the sovereign and the children of sons of the sovereign; the children of the King’s daughters would - like the vast majority of children in the land - take their style from their father.  Had action not been taken than the future King of the United Kingdom would have been born as plain Charles Mountbatten with the courtesy title of Earl of Merioneth (a subsidiary title of the Duke of Edinburgh).

However, his grandfather George VI had the foresight to act; albeit only just in time.  Just weeks before Princess Elizabeth gave birth, new Letters Patent were issued declaring that all children of Elizabeth and Philip would be a Prince or Princess.  As such he was known, for the first three and half years of his life, as His Royal Highness Prince Charles of Edinburgh.

But on the 22nd February 1952 his mother’s succession to the throne triggered a revolution in titles for the Kingdom’s new heir.  Not only did he lose the ‘of Edinburgh’ tag and gain the definite article (to become HRH The Prince Charles) but he gained the title ‘Duke of Cornwall’ which belongs to the heir-apparent of England by right and a host of titles that our synonymous with Scotland’s heir: Duke of Rothersay, Earl of Carrick, Baron Renfrew, Lord of the Isle and Prince and Great Steward of Scotland. 

The next development in Charles’s title came during the summer of 1958, against the backdrop of the Commonwealth games in Cardiff.  At this time the Queen created Charles Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester, two ancient titles that are always bestowed as a pair.  At the same time as announcing the creation, the Queen also pledged to present him to the Welsh people ‘when he was grown up.’  Sure enough, when Charles reached the age of 21 in 1969 the Queen kept her word, and publicly invested her son as Prince of Wales at Carnarvon Castle.

Charles is generally regarded at the 21st Prince of Wales, the first being the future Edward II as heir to Edward I.  Although I do not subscribe to this theory myself, there are those that consider Charles to be the 22nd Prince, believing that Henry VIII’s only surviving son, the future Edward VI was invested with the title.  While believable conceptually, I do not personally consider there to be substantial evidence that such a creation ever took place.   

Naturally it is assumed that the Charles will one day succeed his mother and his title will once again be changed.  There has been much talk over recent years as to exactly what that will look like; will he be defender of the faith?  Will he automatically be called head of the commonwealth?  None of us know the answers for sure.  It is safe to say however, that in his record-breaking tenure as heir to the throne, it is bound to be something to which he himself has given much thought.

Filed under Prince Charles Prince Prince of Wales Duke of Cornwall Life in Titles

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Is Olympic Harry the nation’s fourth man?

The order of precedence is notoriously tricky to understand; but by Harry representing the Queen at last night’s ceremony, the sovereign has implicitly acknowledged that he’s the 4th man of the realm.

Since starting this blog, I’ve been restricted content to ‘Title’ conversations, often ignoring major events in the life of our premier family if I could not find a relevant connection.  However the time has come to open it up to another connected and equally elusive topic - the question of precedence.

Ever since Catherine joined Royal ranks, there’s been speculation around the precedence she enjoys within the family.  Recent reports suggest that the Queen has ‘re-jigged’ precedence so that blood royals come above HRHs-by-marriage.  This would also tie-in with what seemed to happen after Camilla’s marriage, resulting in the York girls – Beatrice and Eugenie – taking precedence over the future Queen of the UK.

Prince Harry’s centre-stage presence at the Olympic closing ceremony last night also raised a few questions.  As far as I understand it, only the most senior Royal present can be the Queen’s formal representative at any given event, meaning it clearly would not have been possible for the Prince to stand in for the sovereign if his father or grandfather had been there.  This however, suggests that Prince Henry of Wales (as he was correctly styled last night) must have taken precedence over all other Royals at the event.  (I daresay that this little head-scratcher somewhat distracted most of the viewers from enjoying the ceremony itself).

Perhaps it is no surprise that he took priority over his sister-in-law; this fits in well with the blood principle that the Queen seems to have establish in recent years.  More curious is that Harry took precedence over his Aunt, The Princess Royal, who as a child (rather than grandchild) of the sovereign would ordinarily hold greater rank.  This, to be fair, would fit into the pattern of the Duke of Cambridge’s engagements appearing above that of his uncles in the court circular.

So, based on what we observe, it would seem that Her Majesty has broadly tweaked the principles that determine the order of precedence within the Royal Family to match those that shape the line of succession; namely that blood matters more than marriage and descendants of heirs take precedence over lateral lines. 


Hardly.  All of this is of course based on piecemeal observation, leaked reports and hearsay.  The only thing I am truly clear on is that the concept of Precedence is something of a conundrum to all who seek to comment on it.  If you’re one of the gifted few that has managed to get your head around it, please get in touch; I’ll personally nominate you for a knighthood. 

Filed under Prince Harry Duchess of Cambridge Precedence

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Anonymous asked: The Princess Anne is the current Princess Royal, but when she passes away who will the title go to if the Queen is still alive? i know it goes to the eldest daughter of the reigning monarch so if the Queen is still alive will it go to her eldest granddaughter or the most senior female member of the royal family? and what will happen when Prince Charles takes the throne? will it go to one of the Duke of Yorks children? id love to know how its worked out :)

Good question.

The title of Princess Royal can only (by tradition) go to the eldest daughter of a monarch, but it is not automatic.  For example, Princess Anne could have been given the title as early as 1965, but wasn’t actually bestowed with it until 1987.

It is also worth stating that the title is given for life.  If the Queen dies (and Charles is King) Anne will still hold the title.  Even if William has a daughter and becomes King in Anne’s life time, the title will not transmit to William’s oldest daughter; Anne will hold it until she dies and it will fall from use upon her death until deliberately re-conferred on another.

The next eligible person for this title will therefore be William and Catherine’s eldest daughter, although she cannot hold it until William is King, Anne is dead and William chooses to give it to her.

It’s also worth noting that if the changes to the line of succession go ahead - that mean an eldest daughter of the William’s could succeed him is she is the first child - all this could change.  The eldest daughter of the sovereign could then end up being the Princess of Wales - who knows what would happen to the Princess Royal title under that set up.