The royal family is steeped in centuries of etiquette, traditions, and rules that can all get more than a little difficult to unravel. For example, is Kate Middleton a princess or duchess? Well, technically she’s both, but it’s a bit complicated.
Kate’s occupation is listed as “Princess of the United Kingdom” on all of her children’s birth certificates, yet we never see anyone refer to her as Princess Catherine. It turns out, calling her Duchess Catherine is wrong, too.
It all has to do with the traditional order of titles for those who weren’t born into the royal family. Only “blood royals” can put the title before their name, which is why Kate’s children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis, all have the regal modifier in front of their names.
The same goes for her husband, Prince William, and so on. Officially speaking, we should only ever call her Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. We could also throw Her Royal Highness in the middle if we want to get extra fancy.
According to royal experts, if she were to go by her actual princess title, it would need to be styled as Princess William of Wales, because he is the blood link to the throne. The only time she will be able to put a title ahead of her own name is when William becomes king and she can be known as Queen Catherine.
But wait — how did Diana get away with having a princess before her name? She married into the family, too, after all. Well, just like Kate, the “Princess of Wales” title technically should have only been listed after her name, but “Princess Diana” fit into headlines better and stuck.
Even more puzzling, Charles should technically have the “prince” title after his name despite obviously being born into the family. He was rightly called Prince Charles at birth when his mother was still Princess Elizabeth.
However, when Elizabeth ascended and he later took on the “Prince of Wales” title, it was meant to always be styled as Charles, Prince of Wales. But by that point, he was already so well known as Prince Charles and it just stayed that way.
All clear now? Yeah, we’re still confused, too, and we haven’t started on how they all have different official titles in Scotland, Northern Ireland, and other commonwealth areas. In some places, Queen Elizabeth is even considered a duke, not a duchess.
The titles will also likely shift around when Charles ascends to the throne and William becomes the new Prince of Wales, but we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. In the meantime, we’ll stick to calling Kate by her pre-royal nickname and leave it at that. – firstforwomen