What do British royal titles mean?

·SEO Editor, Yahoo UK
·4 min read

Read more: 10 interesting facts about the Queen to mark monarch's Platinum Jubilee

The Royal Family is a large and complex institution, often dictated by rules stretching back hundreds of years.

And as The Queen's Jubilee approaches, you may be wondering why royals have so many different titles – and what they all mean.

Here is everything you need to know about royal titles.

Why do royals have multiple titles?

It is tradition for senior royals have numerous titles and honours, although they typically only go by their highest-ranking one.

The titles they use depend on how senior they are, and on which part of the UK they are visiting.

Read more: When is Trooping the Colour?

For example, Prince Charles' main title is the Prince of Wales – but when in Scotland, he's referred to as Duke of Rothesay, and in Cornwall he's the Duke of Cornwall.

He inherited most of his titles after the Queen's accession in 1952, due to his position as eldest son of the monarch.

Royal Family: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales visits Canada House on May 12, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Hannah McKay - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Members of the Royal Family, including Prince Charles, have many different titles. (Photo by Hannah McKay - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

He took on three more titles – the Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich – after the death of his father Prince Philip in 2021.

Senior royals also use the HRH style, which stands for His or Her Royal Highness.

Do Harry, Meghan and Andrew still have royal titles?

Prince Harry and Meghan are still known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, despite stepping down as senior royals in 2020.

They also still hold two other titles: the Earl and Countess of Dumbarton in Scotland, and the Baron and Baroness Kilkeel in Northern Ireland.

Meghan and Harry were granted these monikers by The Queen on their wedding day in 2018.

THE HAGUE, NETHERLANDS - APRIL 17: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attend the sitting volleyball event during the Invictus Games at Zuiderpark on April 17, 2022 in The Hague, Netherlands. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
Meghan and Harry no longer use their HRH styles. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)

The couple no longer use their HRH styles, although they technically still hold them.

Prince Andrew stopped using the HRH style in the wake of his civil sex case in 2022, but is still known as the Duke of York.

Peerages, such as the rank of duke, can only be removed by an act of Parliament.

Despite not being frontline royals, both Harry and Andrew are still princes by birthright, under rules set out by King George V in 1917.

Why is Kate a duchess, not a princess?

As the wife of a prince, Kate is technically a princess. However, she is known as Duchess of Cambridge, rather than Princess Kate, due to royal convention.

Princess titles are typically reserved for those born into the Royal Family – such as Princess Charlotte and Princess Anne – rather than those who marry into it.

Read more: Best Royal Family photos from Trooping the Colour

Kate therefore took on the title of duchess when Prince William was made a duke on his wedding day in 2011.

When William becomes King, she won't become The Queen in the same way as the current monarch. Instead, she will become Queen Consort.

What about Diana and Camilla?

After Diana married Prince Charles in 1981, she was widely known to the public as Princess Diana.

However, this title was not strictly accurate, as she was not born a royal. She was technically 'Her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales' during her marriage, then 'Diana, Princess of Wales' after her divorce.

RHYL, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 27: Prince Charles and Princess Diana, in Rhyl, Wales, on October 27, 1981. (Photo by David Levenson/Getty Images)
Princess Diana became the Princess of Wales after marrying Prince Charles. (Photo by David Levenson/Getty Images)

Camilla automatically took on the Princess of Wales title after marrying Charles in 2005, although she instead uses the title Duchess of Cornwall out of respect to Diana.

The Queen has said it is her "sincere wish" for Camilla to be known as Queen Consort when Prince Charles becomes King.

Why isn't Prince Edward a duke?

Unlike his brothers Charles and Andrew, Prince Edward is not a duke.

Instead, he is known as the Earl of Wessex, a role bestowed upon him on his wedding day in 1999 – apparently due to his love of a rom-com.

A royal courtier told The Telegraph in 2010: "Prince Edward was going to be the Duke of Cambridge, but he watched the film Shakespeare in Love, which had a character called the Earl of Wessex.

"He liked the sound of it and asked The Queen if he could have that instead."

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