Royal ladies, Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle are known as the Duchesses of Cambridge and Sussex, respectively.
Royal fans are already aware that both the royal ladies are also princess(es) of the United Kingdom.
Back in the year 2011, when Kate married William, Queen Elizabeth presented her with the official title. The title was Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge. Furthermore, when Meghan tied the knot with Harry in 2018, she became HRH the Duchess of Sussex. In the UK, HRH is an official style used to address princes (His Royal Highness) and princesses (Her Royal Highness) in the royal family.
Well, that seemed straightforward enough, right? Many of you might be wondering why Middleton and Markle aren’t called Princesses Kate and Meghan like the late Princess Diana was. So what exactly is the difference between a princess and a duchess in the British family, anyway?
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To answer these intriguing questions, and some others, we spoke to royal historian and academic librarian Marlene Koenig. The discussion was about how members of the royal family get their official titles? All thanks to the tradition, sons and grandsons of the monarch are typically facilitated with a new title — such as a dukedom — when they marry.
For example, in May 2018, Queen Elizabeth facilitated Harry with the Dukedom of Sussex. Adding to it, he was also named the Earl of Dumbarton and Baron Kilkeel. Since then, Harry’s title has been styled as HRH the Duke of Sussex.
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Why are Middleton and Markle called duchesses?
According to Koenig, only ladies who were born princesses can be called by their own name in the UK. All those ladies who are not born with HRH status but obtain it through wedding take on the fancied titles of their husbands. This is why, Kate and Meghan’s titles are styled as the Duchesses of Cambridge and Sussex, respectively. This is the main reason Princess Anne is styled by her name with Princess.
Irrespective of the fact of how their titles are styled, Catherine, Meghan, and Anne all share the same status of HRH, Koenig added. The only place where they differ is, by their places in the royal family’s order of precedence. As both of them are princesses by marriage, the duchesses are outranked by Anne, a blood royal, in the UK.
And why was the late Princess Diana called a princess?
When Diana Spencer married Prince Charles in 1981, she was bestowed with three titles. Those were HRH the Princess of Wales, HRH the Duchess of Cornwall, and HRH the Duchess of Rothesay. Since she was a princess by marriage, Diana was never officially styled by her own name. But the philanthropist was dubbed Princess Diana, or Princess Di, by the media, and the unofficial style caught on in the public, Koenig told The Royal UK.
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After Diana and Charles divorced in 1996, her new official style was Diana, Princess of Wales. It was determined by letters to patent the queen issued that same year, which declared that any former wife of a prince could no longer use the style HRH.
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