When Kate Middleton married Prince William on April 29, 2011, the world watched. And almost six years later, we still tune in to see what the royals are up to. While the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge look like the image of wedded bliss, people continue to refer to Kate using her maiden name. Why is that?
Kate Middleton has been in the public realm since she was first revealed to be Prince William's girlfriend in 2003. That mean's we've heard her name and seen her face for almost 15 years. Because she was simply Prince William's girlfriend for so much of the time we've known her, we continue to call her Kate Middleton because it's what we're used to. The title Kate held when we met her and got to know her was Kate Middleton, not the Duchess of Cambridge. And once the public knows you by a certain name, it's almost to impossible to be known by anything else. (Just ask Prince or Cat Stevens!)
See Kate's style before she married Prince William!
And Kate Middleton hasn't done much to stop media sites from referring to her by any name other than her maiden name. “It doesn’t hurt her that the American press especially refers to her as Kate Middleton," said Arianne Chernock, a Boston University professor who studies modern British history. "It’s precisely her middle-class origins, and that name, which won her over to so many people in the first place. So that reminder can only help her.”
Kate Middleton's very un-royal name is a makes you realize there's a chance you, your kids, or your grandkids meet a royal and even marry them. Her name makes her relatable because it makes her sound like an outsider--just like her beloved mother-in-law, Princess Diana.
So if we're really not supposed to call her Kate Middleton, what do we call her? What is her official title? This is where things get tricky.
When Prince William married Kate, she took the female form of his title, Prince William of Wales, making her Princess William of Wales. At the time, Queen Elizabeth also granted them the title of Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Some sites refer to the Duchess of Cambridge as Princess Kate, but there's one big issue with that. Kate cannot and never will be Princess Kate because she was not born into it. To have the title prince or princess before your name, you must be born into the role. That is why it's correct to refer to Charles' nieces as Princes Eugenie and Princess Beatrice.
So what about Princess Diana? That title, Princess Diana, was never official. When she married Charles, he was Prince Charles (by virtue of being born to royal parents) or Charles, Prince of Wales. Diana's official title was then Diana, Princess of Wales--not Princess Diana.
The same can be said about calling Kate, "Duchess Kate." Duchess is another title into which one is born. That's why her title is Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. Similarly, Prince Charles was Duke of Cornwall, and, therefore, Diana's title was Duchess of Cornwall when she was in that area.
Kate Middleton will not take the title Her Royal Highness Catherine, Princess of Wales until Prince Charles takes the throne and Prince William takes the title Prince of Wales. If Prince William becomes king, Kate's title will be Her Majesty Queen Consort Catherine VI.
According to the Royal Family website, "Kings and princes were historically known by the names of the countries over which they and their families ruled. Kings and queens, therefore, signed themselves by their first names only, a tradition in the United Kingdom which has continued to the present day."
When Queen Elizabeth married Philip Mountbatten, she added his surname. Mountbatten-Windsor is Prince William's last name, and he and Kate could give that surname to Prince George and Princess Charlotte, too.
But to make things more confusing, Prince William was given the name "Wales" (the area of which his father was Prince) at birth. At school, he was called William Wales, but now that he has the title Duke of Cambridge, Kate could go by Catherine Cambridge. She could also use Catherine Mountbatten-Windsor.
Of course, Prince William confused the Internet when he signed Prince George's birth certificate. He listed Kate as "Catherine Elizabeth, Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge," putting a slash through the married surname section. Then, he listed her job as "Princess of the United Kingdom."
So many options! We'll let you decide what to call her.
Even though she wanted attention to be on her sister, Kate looked stunning at Pippa Middleton's May 20, 2017 wedding to James Matthews.