Have you ever wondered what is printed on their British birth certificates? Sure, you know the major players — Elizabeth, Charles, William, Kate, and Harry — by their common first names.
But, do the members of the royal family have a surname, just like us commoners?
The answer is… Yes.
Before the year 1917, members of the British Royal Family were known by the name of the house or dynasty they belonged to. Just as kids might take their dad’s last name, royal kids took the name of the “House” from their royal fathers. But then came George V, and changed all this old tradition. He decided to take “Windsor” as the name of both his house and the surname of his family.
Things changed again in 1960 when the Queen decided her descendants should carry the last name Mountbatten-Windsor. Mountbatten was her husband’s, Philip Mountbatten, surname and she added it to the mix. The exception to that rule? If a descendant is special enough to be addressed by a Royal Highness (HRH) or Prince/Princess title or is a female descendant who gets married.
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So where does that leave us with the current royals? Mountbatten-Windsor still remains the official surname of the family. But, both William and Harry have decided to opt for different last names too. Both these brothers served in the military, they went by the surname “Wales,” because their dad Charles is the Prince of Wales.
But William actually has yet another surname to add the list.
On his wedding day, the queen bestowed the titles Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on Will and his wife, Kate. So while Will should technically use “Cambridge” as his surname (Being a Duke of something takes precedence over being a nonruling prince or something), his wife should as well (just as she might take her husband’s last name as a commoner).
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And what about Will and Kate’s kids? Their official names are His Royal Highness Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge and Her Royal Highness Princess Charlotte of Cambridge.
While both technically carry the Mountbatten-Windsor surname, per that aforementioned rule regarding royals special enough to boast the HRH title, George and Charlotte aren’t required to use last names at all.