tagHow ToHow To: English Titles

How To: English Titles


The act of assigning titles is very confusing but if you are writing an historical period piece, it's extremely important to know who is what. Let's begin!


Of course, England is the seat of the monarchy and its highest title is King or Queen. At this time, Queen Elizabeth reigns supreme over England, Ireland, Wales and several other English commonwealths and territories, formally known as Queen Regnant. Her husband is formally known as Prince Consort Philip, but you usually only hear Prince Philip. Their formal last name is Mountbatten. When addressing the Queen or her consort, he or she is referred to as "Your Majesty."

After the King/Queen come the Prince and Princess. This would apply to Prince Charles and Princess Diana, now deceased. It also applies to others in line for the throne, Prince Andrew, Prince Edward and Princess Anne. Charles is known as the Prince of Wales, Andrew is known as the Duke of York, Edward is known as the Earl of Wessex and Anne is known as the Princess Royal. The Prince/Princess is formally referred to as "Your Highness". The Prince's children are called Prince, as in Prince William and Prince Harry but the children of a Princess are not automatically given those titles, though they may be granted by the monarch (King/Queen).

For further information, the first born son is granted the title of "Prince of Wales" and his wife is known as the "Princess of Wales". When they were still married, the formal title would be Charles, Prince of Wales, Diana, Princess of Wales and Princes William and Harry, Princes of Wales. The second born son is granted the title of "Duke of York" and the third born son is the "Earl of Wessex".


The next rank is Duke and Duchess and both as formally called "Your Grace". Close friends might call them "Duke" or "Duchess" but most were most likely known by the name of the title, example given: "The Duke of York, His Highness, Prince Andrew". Prince Andrew would never be known as Duke Mountbatten.

Sons and daughters of the Duke and Duchess are known as Lord and Lady. Lesser titles that are owned by the family are usually granted to the children.


According to Romantic Writers, the title, Marquis/Marquess did not appear until after the Regency era and would be referred to as "Your Lordship" or "Your Ladyship". Most friends of the couple would call the Marquis/Marquess by the title given. For example, Marquis Merton would be called 'Merton'. They might also be known as "Lord" and "Lady" as might their children.


Supposedly, in Saxon times, the Earl was the highest rank of nobility, short of royalty and there are four earldoms where the title name is the same as the surname. The earl and countess are referred to as "Your Lordship" and "Your Ladyship" and their daughters are called "Your Ladyship". Only the eldest male is called "Your Lordship" while the rest use "Honorable", although it is mostly used for correspondence purposes.


This is a title created by the French and carries no weight as far as titles are concerned. The title name is the same as the surname. The viscount and viscountess are referred to as "Your Lordship" and "Your Ladyship" and their children are called "Honorable", although it is mostly used for correspondence purposes.


Baron is rarely used in England. They are referred to as Your Lordship" and "Your Ladyship" and their children are simply called "Mister" or "Miss".


A baronet holds a hereditary knighthood and is a member of the gentry, instead of being a member of the peerage. The baronet is known as "Sir" while the wife is called "Lady". Their children are simply called "Mister" or "Miss".


The current English Royal Family Tree is headed Queen Elizabeth II but let's begin just a bit earlier. One of the most famous royal scandals occurred to the eldest child of George V. George V had five boys and one girl and two of his sons were famous: Edward VIII and George VI. Edward abdicated the throne in 1936 to marry American divorcée Wallis Simpson and George VI married Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, who we all came to know as the Queen Mother.

This marriage produced Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret (who died in 2002). Queen Elizabeth married the Duke of Edinburgh, Philip, and gave birth to Charles, Anne, Andrew and Edward. Charles married the well-loved Princess Diana, who died in 1997, and their union produced Prince William and Prince Harry. Princess Anne married Captain Mark Phillips and they had two children, Peter and Zara, before divorcing in 1992. Anne has since married Commander Timothy Laurence.

Prince Andrew married "Fergie", otherwise known as Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York and they had two daughters, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie while Edward finally married Sophie Rhys-Jones in 1999 and is the only child not have caused a scandal. He and Princess Sophie had a daughter in 2003.

The line of succession is as follows: Prince Charles (the Prince of Wales), Prince William (son of Charles & Diana), Prince Harry (son of Charles & Diana), Prince Andrew (the Duke of York), Princess Beatrice (daughter of Andrew & Sarah), Princess Eugenie (daughter of Andrew & Sarah), Prince Edward (the Earl of Wessex) and Princess Louise (daughter of Edward & Sophie).

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