Royal and noble styles

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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.[ why? ]


Imperial, royal, and princely styles

Only those classified within the social class of royalty and upper nobility have a style of "Highness" attached before their titles. Reigning bearers of forms of Highness included grand princes, grand dukes, reigning princes, reigning dukes, and princely counts, their families, and the agnatic (of the male bloodline) descendants of emperors and kings. Royalty (usually emperors to princely counts) are all considered sovereign princes (German : Fürsten).

In addition to their national royal styles, many monarchs had "treaty styles" to distinguish one monarch from another in international settings. For example, the sovereign of France as "Most Christian Majesty", of Spain as "Catholic Majesty", of Hungary as "Apostolic Majesty", of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation as "August Majesty", of the United Kingdom was customarily referred to as "Britannic Majesty", etc. Monarchs also typically had a longer style than other princely members within the same royal house. For example, the monarch of the United Kingdom has a much longer style than that of other members of the British royal family. The full style of Elizabeth II in the United Kingdom was, "Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith".

Royal and noble styles in France

Noble styles in the United Kingdom



Noble styles in Germany

Mediatized nobility

Non-mediatized nobility

See also

Related Research Articles

A prince is a male ruler or a male member of a monarch's or former monarch's family. Prince is also a title of nobility, often hereditary, in some European states. The female equivalent is a princess. The English word derives, via the French word prince, from the Latin noun prīnceps, from primus (first) and caput (head), meaning "the first, foremost, the chief, most distinguished, noble ruler, prince".

Duke is a male title either of a monarch ruling over a duchy, or of a member of royalty, or nobility. As rulers, dukes are ranked below emperors, kings, grand princes, grand dukes, and sovereign princes. As royalty or nobility, they are ranked below princess nobility and grand dukes. The title comes from French duc, itself from the Latin dux, 'leader', a term used in republican Rome to refer to a military commander without an official rank, and later coming to mean the leading military commander of a province. In most countries, the word duchess is the female equivalent.

Grand duke is a European hereditary title, used either by certain monarchs or by members of certain monarchs' families. In status, a grand duke traditionally ranks in order of precedence below an emperor, as an approximate equal of king or archduke and above a sovereign prince or sovereign duke. The title is used in some current and former independent monarchies in Europe, particularly:

A style of office or form of address, also called manner of address, is an official or legally recognized form of address for a person or other entity, and may often be used in conjunction with a personal title. A style, by tradition or law, precedes a reference to a person who holds a post or political office, and is sometimes used to refer to the office itself. An honorific can also be awarded to an individual in a personal capacity. Such styles are particularly associated with monarchies, where they may be used by a wife of an office holder or of a prince of the blood, for the duration of their marriage. They are also almost universally used for presidents in republics and in many countries for members of legislative bodies, higher-ranking judges, and senior constitutional office holders. Leading religious figures also have styles.

A royal family is the immediate family of kings/queens, emirs/emiras, sultans/sultanas, or raja/rani and sometimes their extended family. The term imperial family appropriately describes the family of an emperor or empress, and the term papal family describes the family of a pope, while the terms baronial family, comital family, ducal family, archducal family, grand ducal family, or princely family are more appropriate to describe, respectively, the relatives of a reigning baron, count/earl, duke, archduke, grand duke, or prince. However, in common parlance members of any family which reigns by hereditary right are often referred to as royalty or "royals". It is also customary in some circles to refer to the extended relations of a deposed monarch and their descendants as a royal family. A dynasty is sometimes referred to as the "House of ...". In July 2013 there were 26 active sovereign dynasties in the world that ruled or reigned over 43 monarchies.

Fürst is a German word for a ruler and is also a princely title. Fürsten were, since the Middle Ages, members of the highest nobility who ruled over states of the Holy Roman Empire and later its former territories, below the ruling Kaiser (emperor) or König (king).

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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Serene Highness</span> Style of address

His/Her Serene Highness is a style used today by the reigning families of Liechtenstein, Monaco and Thailand. Over the past 400 years, it has also used as a style for senior members of the family of Hazrat Ishaan, who lead Naqshbandi Sunni Islam and the Naqshbandi Sufi Order today. 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.

Infante, also anglicised as Infant or translated as Prince, is the title and rank given in the Iberian kingdoms of Spain and Portugal to the sons and daughters (infantas) of the king, regardless of age, sometimes with the exception of the heir apparent or heir presumptive to the throne who usually bears a unique princely or ducal title. A woman married to a male infante was accorded the title of infanta if the marriage was dynastically approved, although since 1987 this is no longer automatically the case in Spain. Husbands of born infantas did not obtain the title of infante through marriage, although they were occasionally elevated to the title de gracia at the sovereign's command.

His or Her Grand Ducal Highness is a style of address used by the non-reigning members of some German ruling families headed by a Grand Duke. No currently reigning family employs the style, although it was used most recently by the younger sisters of the late Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg. Since Grand Duchess Charlotte's marriage to Prince Felix of Bourbon-Parma, all of their male-line descendants have used the style Royal Highness, which he bore.

Monseigneur is an honorific in the French language, abbreviated Mgr., Msgr. In English use it is a title before the name of a French prelate, a member of a royal family or other dignitary.

Majesty is used as a manner of address by many monarchs, usually kings or queens. Where used, the style outranks the style of (Imperial/Royal) Highness, but is inferior to the style of Imperial Majesty. It has cognates in many other languages, especially of Europe.

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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Prince of the Holy Roman Empire</span> Former honorary title or title of ruler

Prince of the Holy Roman Empire was a title attributed to a hereditary ruler, nobleman or prelate recognised as such by the Holy Roman Emperor.

His/Her Illustrious Highness is the usual English-language translation for Erlaucht, a style historically attributed to certain members of the European aristocracy. It is not a literal translation, as the German word for "Highness" is Hoheit, a higher style that appertained to sovereign dukes and other royalty.

Prince étranger was a high, though somewhat ambiguous, rank at the French royal court of the Ancien Régime.

The House of Hohenberg is an Austrian and Czech noble family that descends from Countess Sophie Chotek (1868–1914), who in 1900 married Archduke Francis Ferdinand of Austria-Este (1863–1914), the heir presumptive to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. As their marriage was a morganatic one, none of their children were in the line of succession to the Austro-Hungarian throne. Still, they represent the senior agnatic line of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine.

The Belgian nobility comprises Belgian individuals or families recognized as noble with or without a title of nobility in the Kingdom of Belgium. The Belgian constitution states that no specific privileges are attached to the nobility.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">House of Arenberg</span>

The House of Arenberg is an aristocratic lineage that is constituted by three successive families that took their name from Arenberg, a small territory of the Holy Roman Empire in the Eifel region. The inheritance of the House of Croÿ-Aarschot made the Arenbergs the wealthiest and most influential noble family of the Habsburg Netherlands. The family's Duchy of Arenberg was mediatized in 1810. As such, the Arenbergs belong to the small group of families that constitute the Hochadel.

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.



  1. 1 2 3 Samuel Maunder (1840), The Treasury of Knowledge and Library Reference, Longman, Orme, Brown, Green, & Longmans, p. 1.
  2. Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage, Burke's Peerage Limited, 1885, p. 81.
  3. The Wiltshire Archæological and Natural History Magazine, H. Bull, 1854, p. 325.
  4. The Christian Guardian, 1827, p. 259.
  5. John Bernard Burke (1852), A Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Peerage and Baronetage of the British Empire, Colburn, p. 13.
  6. George Crabb (1823), "Marquis", Universal Technological Dictionary, Baldwin, Cradock & Joy, p. 10.
  7. Royal Album: Court Directory and General Guide, Spottiswoode & Company, 1867, p. 3.
  8. Discours adressé à Monseigneur le Duc d'Ursel par les Officiers de la ...

General sources