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Princess is a regal rank and the feminine equivalent of prince (from Latin princeps , meaning principal citizen). Most often, the term has been used for the consort of a prince, or for the daughter of a king or prince.

Princess as a substantive title

Princess Sigrid Vasa of Sweden (1566-1633) Sigrid Eriksdotter Vasa.jpg
Princess Sigrid Vasa of Sweden (1566–1633)

Some princesses are reigning monarchs of principalities. There have been fewer instances of reigning princesses than reigning princes, as most principalities excluded women from inheriting the throne. Examples of princesses regnant have included Constance of Antioch, princess regnant of Antioch in the 12th century. [3] Since the President of France, an office for which women are eligible, is ex-officio a Co-Prince of Andorra, then Andorra could theoretically be jointly ruled by a princess.

Princess as a courtesy title

Descendants of monarchs

For many centuries, the title "princess" was not regularly used for a monarch's daughter, who, in English, might simply be called "Lady". Old English had no female equivalent of "prince", "earl", or any royal or noble title aside from queen. Royal women were simply addressed or referred to as "The Lady [Firstname]". For example, Elizabeth and Mary, daughters of Henry VIII of England, were often simply referred to as "the Ladies Elizabeth and Mary". [4] This practice, however, was not consistent. In the marriage contract between Prince George of Denmark and Anne, daughter of James II of Great Britain, Anne is referred to as "The Princess Anne". [5]

Practice in Britain began to change in the 18th century. After the accession of King George I to the British throne, the children, grandchildren, and male-line great grandchildren of the British Sovereign were automatically titled "Prince or Princess of Great Britain and Ireland" and styled "Royal Highness" (in the case of children and grandchildren) or "Highness" (in the case of male line great grandchildren). Queen Victoria confirmed this practice in Letters Patent dated 30 January 1864 (the first Act of the Prerogative dealing with the princely title in general terms). On 31 December 2012, Queen Elizabeth II issued letters patent enabling all children of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales to enjoy the princely title and style of Royal Highness , as opposed to only the eldest son. [6] [7]

Wives of princes

In European countries, a woman who marries a prince will almost always become a princess, but a man who marries a princess will almost never become a prince, unless specifically created so. From 1301 onward, the eldest sons of the Kings of England (and later Great Britain and the United Kingdom) have generally been created Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester, and their wives have been titled Princess of Wales. [8]

Queen Elizabeth II of United Kingdom issued Letters Patent dated 21 August 1996, stating that any woman divorced from a Prince of the United Kingdom would no longer be entitled to the style "Royal Highness". This has so far applied to Diana, Princess of Wales, and Sarah, Duchess of York. Similarly, in Denmark, Alexandra, Countess of Frederiksborg, lost her status as princess upon her divorce from Prince Joachim of Denmark; Queen Margrethe II bestowed instead upon her former daughter-in-law the additional personal title Countess of Frederiksborg (Danish : Grevinde af Frederiksborg). [9]

As term of endearment

In some cases, "Princess" is used as a term of endearment to express love for a woman. For example, throughout the 1997 film Life Is Beautiful the protagonist Guido calls his beloved Dora "Principessa", Italian for "Princess".

See also

Related Research Articles

Styles represent the fashion by which monarchs and noblemen are properly addressed. Throughout history, many different styles were used, with little standardization. This page will detail the various styles used by royalty and nobility in Europe, in the final form arrived at in the nineteenth century.

Prince of Wales British royal family title

Prince of Wales is a title traditionally and ceremonially granted to the heir apparent of the British throne as a personal honour or dignity, and is not heritable, with it being merged with the Crown on accession to the throne. Since 1301, the title Earl of Chester has been given in conjunction with that of Prince of Wales. The Prince of Wales usually has other titles and honours, if the eldest son of the monarch; typically this means being Duke of Cornwall, which, unlike being Prince of Wales, inherently includes lands and constitutional and operational responsibilities. Since the 14th century, the title has been a dynastic title granted by the king or queen to the heir apparent to the English or British monarch, but the failure to be granted the title does not affect the rights to royal succession.

Princess Royal Noble title customarily awarded by a British monarch to their eldest daughter

Princess Royal is a style customarily awarded by a British monarch to their eldest daughter. Although purely honorary, it is the highest honour that may be given to a female member of the Royal Family. There have been seven Princesses Royal. Princess Anne is the current Princess Royal.

A prince consort is the husband of a queen regnant who is not himself a king in his own right. In recognition of his status, a prince consort may be given a formal title, such as prince or prince consort, with prince being the most common. However, most monarchies do not have formal rules on the styling of princes consort, thus they may have no special title. Few monarchies use the title of king consort for the same role.

Crown prince Heir to the throne

A crown prince or hereditary prince is the heir apparent to the throne in a royal or imperial monarchy. The female form of the title is crown princess, which may refer either to an heiress apparent or, especially in earlier times, to the wife of the person styled crown prince.

Princess Alexandra, 2nd Duchess of Fife Princess Arthur of Connaught

Princess Arthur of Connaught, 2nd Duchess of Fife,, known as Princess Alexandra, Duchess of Fife, before her marriage, was the eldest grandchild of King Edward VII and a great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria. Alexandra and her younger sister, Maud, had the distinction of being the only female-line descendants of a British sovereign officially granted both the title of Princess and the style of Highness.

Maud Carnegie, Countess of Southesk

Maud Carnegie, Countess of Southesk, titled Princess Maud from 1905 to 1923, was a granddaughter of the British king Edward VII. Maud and her elder sister, Alexandra, had the distinction of being the only female-line descendants of a British sovereign officially granted both the title of Princess and the style of Highness.

Ernest Augustus, Duke of Brunswick 20th-century German nobleman

Ernest Augustus was the reigning Duke of Brunswick from 2 November 1913 to 8 November 1918. He was a grandson of George V of Hanover, whom the Prussians had deposed from the Hanoverian throne in 1866, and Christian IX of Denmark.

Charlotte, Princess Royal Princess Royal

Charlotte, Princess Royal, was Queen of Württemberg as the wife of King Frederick I. She was the elder daughter and fourth child of King George III of the United Kingdom and his wife, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.

Royal Highness is a style used to address or refer to some members of royal families, usually princes or princesses. Monarchs and their consorts are usually styled Majesty.

Battenberg family

The Battenberg family was formerly a morganatic branch of the House of Hesse-Darmstadt, rulers of the Grand Duchy of Hesse in Germany. The first member was Julia Hauke, whose brother-in-law Grand Duke Louis III of Hesse created her in 1851 Countess of Battenberg, with the style Illustrious Highness, at the time of her morganatic marriage to Grand Duke Louis's brother Prince Alexander of Hesse and by Rhine. The name Battenberg refers to the town of Battenberg in Hesse. In 1858, Prince Alexander elevated the Countess's title to Princess of Battenberg, with the style of Serene Highness (HSH).

British prince

Prince of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is a royal title normally granted to sons and grandsons of reigning and past British monarchs. The title is granted by the reigning monarch, who is the fount of all honours, through the issuing of letters patent as an expression of the royal will.

British princess Princess of the United Kingdom

The use of the title of Princess of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is entirely at the will of the sovereign as expressed in letters patent. Individuals holding the title of princess are styled "Her Royal Highness" (HRH). On 18 April 1917, the newest granddaughter of Wilhelm II, German Emperor was styled a British princess from birth even though Germany and Britain were fighting in WWI. King George V wrote Letters Patent on 30 November 1917, to restrict the automatic assignment of the title "Princess" and the use of the style "Royal Highness" to the following persons:

Serene Highness

His/Her Serene Highness is a style used today by the reigning families of Liechtenstein, Monaco, and Thailand. Until 1918, it was also associated with the princely titles of members of some German ruling and mediatised dynasties and with a few princely but non-ruling families. It was also the form of address used for cadet members of the dynasties of France, Italy, Russia and Ernestine Saxony, under their monarchies. Additionally, the treatment was granted for some, but not all, princely yet non-reigning families of Bohemia, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Romania and Russia by emperors or popes. In a handful of rare cases, it was employed by non-royal rulers in viceregal or even republican contexts.

Danish royal family Family of the Danish monarch

The Danish royal family is the dynastic family of the monarch. All members of the Danish royal family except Queen Margrethe II hold the title of Prince/Princess of Denmark. Dynastic children of the monarch and of the heir apparent are accorded the style of His/Her Royal Highness, while other members of the dynasty are addressed as His/Her Highness. The Queen is styled Her Majesty.

Highness is a formal style used to address or refer to certain members of a reigning or formerly reigning dynasty. It is typically used with a possessive adjective: "His Highness", "Her Highness" (HH), "Their Highnesses", etc. Although often combined with other adjectives of honour indicating rank, such as "Imperial", "Royal" or "Serene", it may be used alone.

The royal descendants of Queen Victoria and of King Christian IX, monarchs of the United Kingdom (1837–1901) and Denmark (1863–1906) respectively, currently occupy the thrones of Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. At the outbreak of the First World War their grandchildren occupied the thrones of Denmark, Greece, Norway, Germany, Romania, Russia, Spain, and the United Kingdom. For this, Victoria was nicknamed "the grandmother of Europe" while Christian IX was nicknamed "father-in-law of Europe". Of the remaining kingdoms of Europe today, only Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands descends neither from Victoria nor Christian IX.

Descendants of Queen Victoria The 9 children, 42 grandchildren, and 87 great-grandchildren of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert

Queen Victoria, the British monarch from 1837 to 1901, and Prince Albert had 9 children, 42 grandchildren, and 87 great-grandchildren.

In the British peerage, a royal duke is a member of the British royal family, entitled to the titular dignity of prince and the style of His Royal Highness, who holds a dukedom. Dukedoms are the highest titles in the British roll of peerage, and the holders of these particular dukedoms are princes of the blood royal. The holders of the dukedoms are royal, not the titles themselves. They are titles created and bestowed on legitimate sons and male-line grandsons of the British monarch, usually upon reaching their majority or marriage. The titles can be inherited but cease to be called "royal" once they pass beyond the grandsons of a monarch. As with any peerage, once the title becomes extinct, it may subsequently be recreated by the reigning monarch at any time.

Duchess of Edinburgh Royal title

Duchess of Edinburgh is the principal courtesy title held by the wife of the Duke of Edinburgh. There have been four Duchesses of Edinburgh since the title's creation. The current duchess is Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, whose husband Charles, Prince of Wales, inherited the dukedom on 9 April 2021 upon the death of his father Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II.


  1. Sture Arnell: Karin Månsdotter, Wahlström & Widstrand, Stockholm 1951.
  2. Lars-Olof Larsson (in Swedish): Arvet efter Gustav Vasa (The Inheritance of Gustav Vasa)
  3. Runciman, Steven (1987). A History of the Crusades: The kingdom of Jerusalem and the Frankish East 1100-1187. II. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 507. ISBN   9780521347716.
  4. Camden, William (1688). The History of the Most Renowned and Victorious Princess Elizabeth Late Queen of England (4th ed.). London, UK: M. Flesher. p. 5.
  5. Douglas, David C., ed. (2006) [1966]. English Historical Documents, 1660-1714. London, UK: ROUTLEDGE. ISBN   9780415143714.
  6. "No. 60384". The London Gazette . 8 January 2013. p. 213.
  7. "Royal baby girl 'would be princess'". BBC News. 9 January 2013. Retrieved 6 July 2013.
  8. Given-Wilson, Chris, ed. (2010). Fourteenth Century England. VI. Woodbridge, UK: The Boydell Press. p. 131. ISBN   9781843835301.
  9. Bisgaard, Lars; Kragsig Jensen, Mogens, eds. (2012). Danmarks Adels Årbog 2009-11 [Yearbook of the Danish Nobility] (99 ed.). Dansk Adelsforening. p. 159. OCLC   464149655.