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QUESTION: when lady Diana married prince Charles she became PRINCESS so when Kate Middleton married prince William, why is she not given the title of PRINCESS?

ANSWER: Hi Joyce,

Thank you for your question.

When royal ladies marry, they take on the title of their husband. So in Diana's case, because she married Prince Charles, who is Prince of Wales, she became the Princess of Wales. She also shared the rest of his associated titles thus becoming Countess of Chester, Duchess of Cornwall and Duchess of Rothesay. Princess of Wales is the most senior of these titles, so she and her husband were known as the Prince and Princess of Wales.

However, unlike Princess Beatrice or Princess Eugenie who are princesses by birth, Diana was not a princess in her own right. Instead she gained her title by marriage. Throughout her marriage and even to this day, she is erroneously called Princess Diana, even though this is not correct and never has been.

When Catherine married Prince William, she did become a princess - but not in her own right. On the day they were married, Prince William was given the title Duke of Cambridge, therefore Catherine shared her husband's titles, becoming Duchess of Cambridge, Countess of Strathearn and Lady Carrickfergus. Had Prince William not been granted a dukedom, Catherine would have taken her title from her husband, and been known as Princess William. Just like Prince Michael of Kent's wife is known as Princess Michael rather than Princess Marie Christine. To refer to Catherine as Princess Catherine would be incorrect. So Catherine is a princess by marriage, but because the dukedom of Cambridge is senior to Princess William  she is known as the Duchess of Cambridge instead. Princess William also doesn't sound as nice either! In time, should Prince William become Prince of Wales, Catherine will become the Princess of Wales, because, again, a spouse takes her husband's title.

Hope that answers your question.

Thanks again,


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: ok. I'm a bit confused.  In the first paragraph, the last sentence, you say that Charles and Diana were known as Prince and Princess of Wales.

Then in the 2nd paragraph, the last sentence, you say that it was never correct to call her Princess Diana. I'm not sure I understand that.

Hi Joyce,

There is a difference between being a princess by birth versus a princess by marriage.

For example. Princess Beatrice of York, as a male line grandchild of the sovereign, is a princess by birth. This means that she can use her given name after her style and title. So, HRH Princess Beatrice. The same applies to Princess Anne, as the daughter of a sovereign.

Diana, on the other hand, was a princess by marriage. She married the heir to the throne, the Prince of Wales. Therefore she took on her husband's title and became the Princess of Wales. Had Charles not had the Prince of Wales title, she would have been known as Princess Charles.

Had Diana been a princess by birth, then she would have been entitled to call herself HRH Princess Diana. She was not a princess by birth, therefore it was never correct to call her Princess Diana. Just like it wouldn't be correct to call Catherine, Princess Catherine.

As I mentioned in my previous answer. Prince Michael of Kent has a wife named Marie Christine. When they married, she became a princess by marriage. She took on her husband's title and became HRH Princess Michael of Kent. If she were a princess by birth she would have been Princess Marie Christine.

Does that make sense?

Thank you for your question.



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Marilyn Braun


I can answer questions on British Royalty from Queen Victoria's time to the present.


A life long interest in British Royalty.

I have acted as a royalty expert on and I currently answer royalty questions on Yahoo Answers. I also update royalty articles on Wikipedia.

I have my own royalty blog called Marilyn's Royal Blog: I have written articles on royal weddings, births, engagement rings, protocol, as well as short royal profiles. I have also appeared on CBC Newsworld, CTV News, BBC Radio, CBC Radio.

A lifelong interest in the topic and over 400 books on the subject.

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