Why Kate Middleton and Prince William Have Completely Different Titles When They Visit Scotland

Just when you thought royal titles couldn't get more confusing...

Kate-middletonShaun Jeffers/Shutterstock

The royal family may not have a last name, but the many complicated titles they have definitely make up for it. Prince Charles’ full royal title, for instance, is “His Royal Highness The Prince Charles Philip Arthur George, Prince of Wales, KG, KT, GCB, OM, AK, QSO, PC, ADC, Earl of Chester, Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Baron of Renfrew, Lord of the Isles and Prince and Great Steward of Scotland.” Talk about a mouthful.

As if that weren’t enough, when some royals travel to other countries, they go by different titles than what we’re used to seeing. When Prince William and Kate Middleton got married in 2011, they joined those ranks. To the people of Scotland, William and Kate are not the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. They are the Earl and Countess of Strathearn. Unless they’re chatting with each other, of course—then they use these sweet nicknames that royal family members have for one another.

Why does the couple have different titles in England’s northern neighbor? It’s because England and Scotland were completely separate countries until 1707, when the Acts of Union created the United Kingdom. Scotland uses a completely unique set of royal titles. Strathearn is a region in central Scotland, and the term itself refers to the valley of the Scottish River Earn. The title dates all the way back to the 1100s and is still in use today. In fact, when Alex Salmond, the former first minister of Scotland, learned that Kate Middleton was pregnant with Princess Charlotte, he tweeted his congratulations to “the Earl & Countess of Strathearn.” So don’t worry—the name difference doesn’t play into these 18 crazy conspiracy theories about the royal family.

Regional titles are unique to senior married members of the royal family, which means that Prince Charles also uses a different title in Scotland—the Duke of Rothesay. This title was held by the heir to the Scottish throne before Scotland’s royal family merged with England’s in the seventeenth century. Even after the merge, the distinct Scottish titles remained. Next, don’t miss these other 50 things you never knew about the British royal family.

[Sources: Business Insider, independent.co.uk]

Meghan Jones
Meghan Jones is a word nerd who has been writing for RD.com since 2017. You can find her byline on pieces about grammar, fun facts, the meanings of various head-scratching words and phrases, and more. Meghan graduated from Marist College with a Bachelor of Arts in English in 2017; her creative nonfiction piece “Anticipation” was published in the Spring 2017 issue of Angles literary magazine.