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A Note for Fic-Writers: How To Talk To Royalty Jul. 19th, 2011 @ 12:17 pm
So, I still have a backlog of real posts to make, but I just read an otherwise-excellent (Merlin AU) fic which involved characters supposedly in the positions of the present-day British monarchy, and it kept making me twitch like anything with the things that were just *wrong*.

Examples: The Prince of Wales, crown prince of the United Kingdom and assorted Commonwealth countries, being addressed as "sire". The king being addressed as "your highness". These are wrong.

So, in case anyone reading this wants to write fic about royalty, or meets some, here's the general rundown of address.

Note: This is for British royalty. There can and often are variations for other monarchies.


His Majesty the King; Her Majesty the Queen. In writing, address as Your Majesty. In person, the first time you address them, you do so as Your Majesty; thereafter, you address a king as "sire" and a queen as "ma'am". (NOTE: This is not pronounced the American way, with an /a/ sound like "cat". It's pronounced "mum".)

HRH The Prince of Wales

His Royal Highness is addressed first as "Your Royal Highness" - note the Royal, it's important. After that, "sir".

The Princess Royal

The what, you may ask?

The Princess Royal is a title traditionally given to the eldest daughter of the sovereign, but - importantly - is only ever held by one woman at a time. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was never the Princess Royal, because the title remained in the possession of her aunt.

Other Members of the Royal Family

Will have HRH in front of their names and titles, for His/Her Royal Highness. However, it's worth noting that a peerage supercedes the Prince/Princess as a title. Having been granted a peerage upon his marriage, the eldest son of the Prince of Wales is now correctly HRH the Duke of Cambridge. Had he not been given a peerage, the Duchess of Cambridge, formerly Kate Middleton, would be formally known as HRH Princess William.

The pattern of Your Royal Highness -> Sir/Ma'am follows.

HRH status follows as far as the sovereign's great-grandchildren; after that they become Lord/Lady.

But, importantly, English monarchs have been "Your Majesty" rather than "Your Highness" since Henry VIII, and only the king is addressed as "sire". And you don't use those all the time anyway because it's awkward and cumbersome and weird.

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