Royal Family Titles and Upcoming Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton

Updated on April 05, 2011
G.B. asks from Oklahoma City, OK
10 answers

My 7 year old is all about Princesses and is really enjoying the stories about the upcoming wedding of Kate And Prince William. She will sit and watch the TV guide channel shows about Diana and the young couple. She asked me a question and I don't know the answer. I googled it and am now more confused.

Diana was not referred to as the future Queen but Kate is being called the future Queen. Kate is having to take lessons to learn royal things like protocol and how to walk and talk because she is a commoner. But the press keeps referring to her as the future Queen of England.

As I understand it the wife or husband of the reigning King Or Queen can be called the "King Consort" or the Queen Consort" but no one has used those titles for a long time. They have just become the "Consort" and were given official duties.

So, my question is:

Who decides what titles the new spouse is given? How do their duties differ from one to the other if they are Queen Consort or simply "Consort"? When her father died Queen Elizabeth raised Prince Phillips status: " After her accession to the throne, the Queen also announced that the Duke was to have "place, pre-eminence and precedence" next to her "on all occasions and in all meetings, except where otherwise provided by Act of Parliament" (used wiki as reference) So if he was equal then why not "King" since Kate is going to be called "Queen" at some point?

So, when a 7 year old asks why was the Princes mom a Princess but his wife is going to be a queen how do I answer that?

It only gets more confusing the more I research it. Maybe some of you are more versed in the royal title stuff and can give me a logical explanation.

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So What Happened?

Thank you for responding. I learned a lot from you momma's. I am telling her that she may one day be queen but not for a very long time.

More Answers


answers from Charlotte on

A queen's husband is the Prince Consort, but a king's wife just takes on the feminine version of her husband's title despite being his consort. Kate is generally considered the future Queen because most people think of William as the next king rather than his father (really depends on Charles' decision to take the throne or not since he's first in line). In Diana's time, the Queen wasn't so old, so she wasn't called the future Queen. Now, Elizabeth is quite elderly so people are more actively considering who the next monarch will be. Charles' current wife hasn't taken the title of "Princess of Wales" because it was last held by the late Diana. After the divorce, Diana was still called the "Princess of Wales" because she was Charles' first wife and the mother of two princes of Wales. If Charles ascends to the throne Diana will still be Princess of Wales and the same goes for if William or Harry ascend to the throne, however, if William or Harry ascend to the throne she will also be the late Queen Mother. "Future Queen" is just the media.

I don't really pay all that much to the royal wedding, but I make a point of researching monarchies since I've turned my love of history and English into careers (teaching history + writing fantasy novels).

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

It's partly her sex. Kings technically outrank Queens in many countries (including the UK). In order to prevent foreign usurpation, when the genetic heir is female, her husband is granted rank LOWER than hers. As the next two heirs to the throne are male, it's easier for his wife to be thought of as the future queen (when the Queen herself passes, and the Prince ascends. Although, as Vicki said, William isn't the next heir to the throne, but his father. Same token, should the QoE step down for any reason, she would still be the 'dowager queen' or 'queen mother'. It's highly unlikely for that to ever occur. It's far more common for there to be a dowager queen when the queen herself is NOT the genetic heir.)

Even when Queen Elizabeth raised Prince Phillip's rank, she didn't make him completely equal with herself. Those acts of Parliament would keep him from laying any kind of claim on the throne without her. Should she have died, he would therefore NOT be in the line of succession, although their children would be.

if such wasn't the case, E could have died, but were Phillip King in his own right, and had Phillip then remarried, his new wife would be QOE, and the line of succession would have gotten shifted (or at least very muddied) from E's line to Phillip's line.

It's also part just ease of terminology / newsbites. The idea of a commoner becoming Queen is riveting to most people in my class. Even the People's Princess (who was touted as a Cinderella story) wasn't, not really. She had (near) pedigree, education, and social standing of the upper class. She had gone to school (since childhood) with the very long list of HRH's, HRG's, HG's, etc. Kate, otoh, comes from a social and educational background that (until college) is several social and monetary ranks below the titled class.

((BY THE WAY.... Superfun as far as Brit titles go... go to miniboden or any other UK clothing website and 'pretend' to order something. It has a list of dozens of titles -including HRH- on a dropdown menu on the address screen. It's illuminating to most of us here on this side of the pond just how many titles there actually are.))

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answers from Washington DC on

I am from England and have to be honest that you know more than me! , but anyway I think she is being referred to as the "Future Queen of England" by the media more than anything , Prince Charles is actually heir to the throne but let's face it he is getting on now , and I believe he may actually "step down" and pass it onto William. He will be King and K. will be his wife , she won't be Queen , and the reason Diana was never called that was probaby because the Queen never liked her!

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answers from Houston on

I think b/c Queen Elizabeth is quite old an wont be queen much longer, perhaps that is why Kate is being called 'future queen' and not Diana.... it is just a term the media has applied. Also, there was controversy among Diana being royal in the first place. Perhaps the old, uptight, persnickety royalty has modernized. That's just me, who hasn't really been paying that much attention to it can guess.

Legally, she will be called "Her Royal Highness Princess William of Wales". When Prince William does become King, she will be "Queen Consort", and called "Queen Catherine"... though she won't actually ever be a ruler.. it would pass to her children.. She has also stated she prefers to be called Kate over Catherine.

More about it here:


answers from Sacramento on

"Future Queen" is a media term. Kate will be a Princess when she marries the Prince. At such time as he actually becomes the King, she will then become the Queen. (Prince Philip is not referred to as a King, because Kings outrank Queens - unfair maybe, but that's how it is. She rules the country, he doesn't.) Diana was a Princess because she was married to the Prince. She was not referred to as the "Future Queen" because that's not actually a title in the British Monarchy, and it is, of course, very bad taste to speculate on the actual Queen's demise. (Not that that has ever stopped the media! LOL)



answers from Savannah on

Yeah, the question to why the Prince's mom was a Princess but his wife is going to be a queen (by the way, a very good question for a 7 year old I think!) is that Queen Elizabeth (Prince William's grandmother) is still the reigning queen. Princess Diana was a princess because she married the queen's son (Prince Charles), but she divorced out of her role, and died too early.
After the divorce, the gossip was that the Queen DID want to remove Princess Di's title but there was too much outcry, she was too popular with the public, and still mother to future please the people she did (grudgingly) consent to allow her to keep her title though she would never be queen. Yes, we'll find out the "official" title of the young couple when they marry and the Queen gives them one. But it is possible, someday, that this new couple will be king and queen (if she doesn't get divorced, and lives long enough).
All the other stuff, I do not know. :P


answers from Austin on

I don't know the anwers here but I just wanted to pipe in that Prince William is deliciously handsome and Kate is simply gorgeous !!!

Could two people be anymore beautiful? I love seeing their pictures. Thats it, thats all I had. ;)



answers from Washington DC on

Interesting and fun, and way too engrossing considering our half-English family is lower-case-R republican -- as in, not fans of monarchy as an idea!

To clarify something said earlier: There is only one Prince of Wales at a time, not "two princes of Wales" (the writer meant William and Harry). The current Prince of Wales is Prince Charles; William does not receive that title until Charles becomes king AND William undergoes the ceremony of investiture to make him Prince of Wales. The Welsh, by the way, aren't too keen on the title being held by English princes; it was appropriated long ago by English royals to try to cement their grip on the separate nation of Wales.

Diana was never officially "Princess Diana." She was "Diana, Princess of Wales." To be styled a prince or princess one must be born one. Hence, Prince Philip: He is a prince in his own right, a prince of the Greek royal family, and does not derive his title from his marriage to Elizabeth. Catherine would be "Catherine, Princess of Wales" when William becomes Prince of Wales - which as noted above, he isn't yet and might not be for some time to come.

So what would Catherine be until she is Princess of Wales? This is from the horse's mouth, the official web site of the royal family,

"Traditionally, all wives of male members of the British Royal Family, the aristocracy and members of the public take the style and title of their husbands."

This is why, for instance, Prince Michael of Kent, the Queen's first cousin and a prince in his own right, is married to "Princess Michael," whose given name is Marie-Christine. She cannot be titled Princess Marie-Christine, as she is not a Princess in her own right.

Therefore, Catherine likely would be "Princess William" officially -- though who knows whether the couple will ask the official powers that be to do something different? Certainly the press and people will refer to her as "Princess Kate."

Go to the official web site for more for your seven-year-old. And especially remind her -- real princes and princesses are expected to do a lot of charity work and travel the world bringing attention to causes and needs.



answers from Redding on

This is pretty confusing, but keep your eye on TLC channel. They have had lots of shows about his.
Actually, Kate will be Queen Consort. She will never be Queen, or in line to the throne, even if William dies. Diana would only have been Queen once Elizabeth passed away and Charles took the throne. But again, she would not have been in line of succession. Even had she lived, it is William who is next in line.
Diana was the Princess of Wales.
Prince Andrew and Fergie became the Duke and Duchess of York. There would be a lot of people dying or abdocating for Prince Andrew to ever rule. Yet, he is a Prince none the less.
Watch your listings. If I'm correct, TLC has another show (or several) coming up in the weeks preceeding the wedding. It's pretty interesting.
I remember being in high school and my mom let me skip to stay home and watch Charles and Diana's wedding. This wedding is said to be a little more modern and low key, if there is such a thing as low key in royal weddings.
Keep in mind that Elizabeth's mother didn't become queen, Elizabeth did. Mum was the Queen Mother.
Ann Bolyn was beheaded but even so, her daughter Elizabeth I became queen of England.
The history of it is all very intriguing.

I hope you get some great info.
I admit it's all very fascinating to me.



answers from Detroit on

Coming from England, I remember Princess Diana was referred to as the future Queen of England on several occassions in the media, and that was her status while married to Prince Charles. When Prince Charles got married, He and Princess Diana were given the titles Prince and Princess of Wales by the Queen. She can give titles as a wedding gift. Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson were given the title of Duke and Duchess of York. Prince William and Kate could still be given a title as a wedding gift from the Queen. Future Queen of England is not an official title, but more a term used by the media.
The reason Princess Diana was never called the Queen is because She and Charles divorced before He became King. She should have actually lost the title of Princess as She was no longer married to the Prince but they let her keep that title as part of the divorce settlement.
Not sure how you would explain this to your daughter, but you could just say that She died before becoming Queen of England or explain the whole divorce thing, which ever you are more comfortable with. You could even just go with the fact that Kate will have to a Princess so that She learns how to be a Queen, much more simple and sounds more like the fairytale that little girls want to hear.

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