British Royals: Title Distribution


Royal titles are a big talking point with the speculation that Prince Andrew could be the Duke of York no more. Furthermore, that is why we’re going over how titles are distributed amongst the inner family of the British monarch.

In this post, we will be discussing:

  • Prince and Princess.
  • Duke and Duchess and Earl and Countess.
  • Lady and Viscount Severn.
  • Heirs to the Throne.
  • King and Queen.
  • Consorts.
  • Designations.

In an earlier post, we discussed why some monarchies only have one monarch. There’s also the case of having a princely family.

Titles For The Direct Line-Of-Succession

There are the heirs, and then there are the others who don’t progress. As cruel as that is, there’s no other way to describe it.

So, for the direct line, we have Prince and Princess.

The prince and princess titles are only reserved for the children and grandchildren of the monarch. However, if the grandchildren of a previous monarch still live, they keep their titles. Moreover, Prince Michael of Kent is a perfect example.

The titles of prince and princess do not extend to great-grandchildren. However, a new letters patent was issued before the birth of Prince William’s eldest son, Prince George. The rule says now that all children, regardless of gender, of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales would be given titles automatically at birth.

This rule, however, does not apply to Archie and Lilibet.

Their father, Prince Harry, is the youngest of Prince Charles’ sons. When Prince Charles ascends the throne, his children may be elevated to Prince and Princess. As the Prince of Wales is their grandfather, they will be grandchildren of the monarch.

At the time of their births, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie were given titles at the apparent insistence of their father, Prince Andrew. However, it might’ve had to do with being daughters of a duke.

Upon the births of Peter and Zara Phillips, Princess Anne and her first husband, Mark Phillips, declined titles for their children. Meanwhile, Prince Edward and his wife, Sophie, decided to allow their children, Louise and James, to decide on their eighteenth birthdays if they wanted titles.

Titles Upon Marriage

For many senior female royals, they take the moniker of their husband. In the case of Sophie Rhys-Jones, for example, upon marrying Prince Edward, she became the Countess of Wessex. Given that Prince Edward is an earl, their children were given a courtesy title upon their births.

Upon his marriage to Catherine Middleton, Prince William became the Duke of Cambridge.

Other senior, former, or deceased royals with dukedoms include:

  • Prince Andrew, Duke of York.
  • Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex.
  • Edward, Duke of Windsor.
  • Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

Royals with an earldom, which is also given upon marriage, include:

  • Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex.
  • Antony Armstrong-Jones, Earl of Snowden.
  • David Armstrong-Jones, 2nd Earl of Snowden (title inherited after the death of his father).

iscount And Lady

Children of an Earl will be gifted with the courtesy titles of Viscount and Lady. Primary examples include Lady Louise and her brother James, Viscount Severn, the children of Prince Edward, and the Queen’s youngest grandchildren.

Princess Margaret’s children Sarah and David were given these titles upon their births. Upon the death of their father, Earl Snowden, David went from Viscount Linley to the 2nd Earl of Snowden. The title of Viscount Linley went to David’s son, Charles.

Heirs To The Throne

In a perfect world, the heir to the throne would be the Prince of Wales. However, it does not always work that way. After Edward VIII abdicated the throne, his younger brother, Prince Albert, became King George VI. Ultimately, this paved the way for the new king’s eldest daughter, Princess Elizabeth, to become Queen Elizabeth II upon his death.

Before becoming king, King George VI was the Duke of York. His daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret, were the Princesses of York. Meanwhile, the future Queen Mother was the Duchess of York.

Prince Charles was not always the Prince of Wales. When he was born, he was Prince Charles of Edinburgh as his parents were the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh. A couple of years later, when his sister, Princess Anne, was born, she was Princess Anne of Edinburgh.

We’ll cover this a bit later in the post, but over a royal’s lifetime, their designation will change.

So, in the lifetimes of Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis, their designations will change.

King And Queen

Only heirs to the throne can take the moniker of King or Queen. A consort will sometimes take the opposite title. For example, Queen Mary of Teck took the title of Queen during her time as the consort of King George V.

When Her Majesty The Queen became the monarch, the British national anthem was changed to reflect the change. When Charles becomes king, this will change back to God Save the King.

We’ll cover the situation with consorts later in the post. But the important part of this is, no one will ever be a king or queen, except those who deserve it.


A monarch cannot function without their consort. Queen Victoria had Prince Albert and was so distraught by his death that she retreated from public life for the rest of her days and always wore black from that moment.

The Queen Mother might’ve been the Queen Consort of King George VI, but she held a grudge against her brother-in-law, Edward VIII, and his wife, Wallis Simpson, for forcing her ailing husband to take the throne.

Our current monarch, Queen Elizabeth, had Prince Philip as Prince Consort of over 70 years. She once referred to him as her “strength and stay” as he always walked two steps behind her.

When Charles takes the throne upon the passing of his mother, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, will be his consort. It has long been debated whether she will be Queen Consort or Princess Consort.

The same applies to Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, when Prince William becomes king. Again, it is unknown whether she will be Queen Consort or Princess Consort.


Finally, the last thing we wanted to cover in this post is the designations many royals have throughout their lives. Since there are so many, we’re only going to cover the royals of today.

The designations of today are:

  • Wales
  • York
  • Sussex
  • Wessex
  • Cambridge
  • Kent
  • Gloucester
  • Edinburgh

As we mentioned earlier, many royals will go through many designations throughout their lives. 

Prince Philip was granted the title of the Duke of Edinburgh by his father-in-law, King George VI on his wedding day.

Prince Andrew got the designation of York when he married Sarah Ferguson.

As the heir to the throne, Prince Charles became The Prince of Wales when he was a child.

Prince Harry received Sussex when he married Meghan Markle.

Prince Edward became Earl of Wessex when he married Sophie Rhys-Jones.

In April 2011, Prince William became the Duke of Cambridge when he married Catherine Middleton.

Prince Richard, one of the Queen’s cousins, is the Duke of Gloucester.

Finally, Kent is used by Prince Michael, another cousin of the Queen.

About Author

C.J. Hawkings has written for the now-defunct Entertainment website, Movie Pilot and the still functioning WhatCulture and ScreenRant. She now writes for FanSided and is loving it!

%d bloggers like this: