After more than five years of marriage to HRH The Duke of Cambridge, his wife, the former Kate Middleton, is still often called Kate Middleton or many other incorrect titles. Her correct title, simply is, HRH The Duchess of Cambridge. I swear if by some unfortunate tragedy the Duke of Cambridge were to wake up tomorrow to find that he is the King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain the press and others would still call his wife Kate Middleton!
She is a Princess of the United Kingdom via her marriage to HRH The Duke of Cambridge, but because she was not born a member of the royal family she is not entitled to be called Princess Catherine. That right is reserved for women who are the daughter of the sovereign or the granddaughter of the sovereign in the male line. (an exception has been made for little Princess Charlotte of Cambridge who is a great-granddaughter of the sovereign in the male line…more on that in another post).
This was the same case/situation for the late Diana, Princess of Wales (her correct title after the divorce). While Diana was married to HRH The Princes of Wales her correct title was, again simply, HRH The Princess of Wales. Since Diana was not born either as daughter of the sovereign or the granddaughter of the sovereign in the male line it was not correct to call her “Princess Diana.”
The press never got that right and that is why they and others flounder in what to call the wife of the Duke of Cambridge…Duchess Kate: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (this way of referring to her indicates she is divorced for that is how Diana was referred to after her divorce): Princess Catherine: Princess Kate and a combination of all the above. All are wrong. Her correct style is, Her Royal Highness, and her correct title is…The Duchess of Cambridge. That is it! If you have a peerage title you are known by that peerage title (along with the style His or Her Royal Highness in the case of the royal family members that hold peerage titles) and not your first name. If you are a wife of a peer you take the feminine form of your husband’s title…in the case of the lovely lady formerly known as Kate Middleton, the title is Duchess of Cambridge.
In the future HRH The Duchess of Cambridge will be known as HRH The Princess of Wales when her father-in-law (the current Prince of Wales) becomes king and eventually invests his son as Prince of Wales. Further in the future, and God willing, when the Duke of Cambridge becomes King, as King William V of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (assuming he doesn’t select another regnal name) and the simple correct way to refer to him will be, His Majesty the King, and his his wife’s correct style and tittle will be Her Majesty The Queen. So lets stop calling her Kate Middleton.
Maybe tomorrow or very soon I will write a post on the history of titles and their correct forms and usage.