What do British royal titles mean?

·SEO Editor, Yahoo UK
·4 min read
Britain's Prince William, Prince of Wales gestures as he speaks to members of the public outside Norwich Gate on the Sandringham Estate in Sandringham, eastern England, on September 15, 2022, following the death of Queen Elizabeth II. - As preparations build for next week's state funeral, Prince William and his wife Catherine -- the new Prince and Princess of Wales -- visit Sandringham, where the queen used to spend Christmas. (Photo by Daniel LEAL / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images)
Members of the Royal Family, including Prince Charles, have many different titles. (Photo by Daniel Leal/AFP via Getty Images)

The Royal Family is a large and complex institution, often dictated by rules stretching back hundreds of years.

And as the country mourns the Queen's death, you may be wondering why royals have so many different titles – and what they all mean.

Here is everything you need to know about royal titles.

Why do royals have multiple titles?

It is tradition for senior royals have numerous titles and honours, although they typically only go by their highest-ranking one.

The titles they use depend on how senior they are, and on which part of the UK they are visiting.

For example, Prince William's main title is Prince of Wales – but when in Scotland, he's referred to as Duke of Rothesay, and in Cornwall he's Duke of Cornwall.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - SEPTEMBER 14: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 24 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Prince William, Prince of Wales and King Charles III walk behind Queen Elizabeth II's coffin as it is transported on a gun carriage from Buckingham Palace to The Palace of Westminster ahead of her Lying-in-State on September 14, 2022 in London, United Kingdom. Queen Elizabeth II's coffin is taken in procession on a Gun Carriage of The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall where she will lay in state until the early morning of her funeral. Queen Elizabeth II died at Balmoral Castle in Scotland on September 8, 2022, and is succeeded by her eldest son, King Charles III. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
Prince William inherited several titles, including Prince of Wales, from his father Charles. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

He has a string of other titles, including Earl of Carrick, Baron of Renfrew, and Lord of the Isles.

William inherited most of his titles after King Charles III took the throne, due to his position as eldest son of the monarch.

But he also retains three titles he was given on his wedding day in 2011: Duke of Cambridge, Earl of Strathearn, and Baron Carrickfergus.

Senior royals also use the HRH style, which stands for His or Her Royal Highness.

TOPSHOT - Britain's King Charles III (REAR) and Camilla, Queen Consort leave Westminster Hall, at the Palace of Westminster in London on September 14, 2022, where the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II, will Lie in State on a Catafalque. - Queen Elizabeth II will lie in state in Westminster Hall inside the Palace of Westminster, from Wednesday until a few hours before her funeral on Monday, with huge queues expected to file past her coffin to pay their respects. (Photo by Frank Augstein / POOL / AFP) (Photo by FRANK AUGSTEIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Camilla, who married Charles in 2005, is known as Queen Consort. (Photo by Frank Augstein/Pool/ AFP via Getty Images)

What does Queen Consort mean?

The wife of a King automatically becomes a Queen Consort, meaning that Camilla has held this title since Charles became monarch.

When she married Charles in 2005, there was much debate about what Camilla would eventually be called.

Royal aides insisted that Camilla would simply choose not to call herself queen and be known as Princess Consort.

Read more: What will King Charles' reign be called?

But on the eve of her Platinum Jubilee in February 2022, Elizabeth II endorsed the then-Duchess of Cornwall to be known as Queen when the time came.

The Queen said it was her "sincere wish" that Camilla would take the title.

THE HAGUE, NETHERLANDS - APRIL 17: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attend the sitting volleyball event during the Invictus Games at Zuiderpark on April 17, 2022 in The Hague, Netherlands. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
Meghan and Harry no longer use their HRH styles. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)

Do Harry, Meghan and Andrew still have royal titles?

Prince Harry and Meghan are still known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, despite stepping down as senior royals in 2020.

They also still hold two other titles: the Earl and Countess of Dumbarton in Scotland, and the Baron and Baroness Kilkeel in Northern Ireland.

Meghan and Harry were granted these monikers by Queen Elizabeth II on their wedding day in 2018.

The couple no longer use their HRH styles, although they technically still hold them.

Prince Andrew stopped using the HRH style in the wake of his civil sex case in 2022, but is still known as the Duke of York.

Peerages, such as the rank of duke, can only be removed by an act of Parliament.

Despite not being frontline royals, both Harry and Andrew are still princes by birthright, under rules set out by King George V in 1917.

RHYL, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 27: Prince Charles and Princess Diana, in Rhyl, Wales, on October 27, 1981. (Photo by David Levenson/Getty Images)
Princess Diana became Princess of Wales after marrying Charles in 1981. (Photo by David Levenson/Getty Images)

Why is Meghan a duchess, not a princess?

As the wife of a prince, Meghan is technically a princess. However, she is known as Duchess of Sussex, rather than Princess Meghan, due to royal convention.

Princess titles are typically reserved for those born into the Royal Family – such as Princess Charlotte and Princess Anne – rather than those who marry into it.

After Diana married Charles in 1981, she was widely known to the public as Princess Diana. However, this title was not strictly accurate.

She was technically 'Her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales' during her marriage, then 'Diana, Princess of Wales' after her divorce.

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 12: Prince Edward, Earl of Forfar departs St Giles Cathedral on September 12, 2022 in Edinburgh, Scotland. King Charles III joins the procession accompanying Her Majesty The Queen's coffin from the Palace of Holyroodhouse along the Royal Mile to St Giles Cathedral. The King and The Queen Consort, accompanied by other Members of the Royal Family also attend a Service of Prayer and Reflection for the Life of The Queen where it lies in rest for 24 hours before being transferred by air to London. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
Prince Edward was granted the title of Earl of Wessex on his wedding day in 1999. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)

Why isn't Prince Edward a duke?

Unlike his brother Andrew, Prince Edward is not a duke.

Instead, he is known as the Earl of Wessex, a role bestowed upon him on his wedding day in 1999 – apparently due to his love of a rom-com.

A royal courtier told The Telegraph in 2010: "Prince Edward was going to be the Duke of Cambridge, but he watched the film Shakespeare in Love, which had a character called the Earl of Wessex.

"He liked the sound of it and asked the Queen if he could have that instead."

Since 2019, he has been known as Earl of Forfar when in Scotland.

Watch: Queen leaves Buckingham Palace for last time before lying in state