As avid royal watchers, we’re usually up-to-date when it comes to the latest news about the British royal family. But one of the many things that continues to stump us — aside from royal family curtsy etiquette — is why people still refer to the Duchess of Cambridge by her maiden name. After seven years of wedded bliss, why hasn’t Kate Middleton’s name changed?
Kate Middleton sounds familiar.
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)
Kate Middleton has been in the public eye since 2003 when it was confirmed that she and Prince William were an item. We’ve heard her name for almost two decades, so we continue to call her Kate Middleton because it’s what we’re used to. Once the public knows you by a certain name, it’s almost impossible to be known by anything else. (Just ask Cat Stevens!)
And Kate Middleton’s name recognition could actually work in her favor. “It doesn’t hurt her that the American press especially refers to her as Kate Middleton,” Arianne Chernock, a Boston University professor who studies modern British history, told Vanity Fair. “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.”
What is Kate Middleton’s title?
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 the couple 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 the royal family. 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 Prince William’s daughter as Princess Charlotte. This same logic is the reason why it’s also not correct to call Kate “Duchess Kate.”
So what about Princess Diana? When she married Charles, her official title became Her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales, not “Princess Diana.” Of course, that didn’t stop her from being honored with the unofficial royal moniker “The People’s Princess.”
Once Prince Charles takes the throne and Prince William becomes the Prince of Wales, Kate will then be known as Her Royal Highness Catherine, Princess of Wales. If Prince William becomes king, Kate’s title will most likely involve some form of queen consort.
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)
According to the royal family’s 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 her cousin Philip Mountbatten, she tacked on his surname to all of her children’s full names. 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.”
With so many options, we’ll let you decide what to call her.
More From FIRST
NEXT: Princess or not, Kate Middleton is the queen of wedding style. See all the stunning outfits she’s worn to other people’s nuptials.
Kate Middleton Princess Eugenie Wedding
Kate Middleton at Princess Eugenie's Wedding
For the second royal wedding of 2018, the Duchess of Cambridge wore a beautifully autumnal fuchsia dress topped with a matching fascinator. She and Prince William were able to take things easy while their two oldest children, George and Charlotte, joined the other kiddos of the bridal party as a pageboy and bridesmaid.
Kate Middleton at Prince Harry's wedding
Kate Middleton at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's Wedding
Although some accused Kate of rudely wearing white at her brother-in-law's wedding on May 19, 2018, it was actually just the bright sun washing out her respectful pale yellow outfit. Like Eugenie and Jack, Harry and Meghan's vows took place in St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle.
Kate Middleton Pippa Middleton Wedding
Kate Middleton at Pippa Middleton's Wedding
On May 20, 2017, Kate's dear sister Pippa Middleton married James Matthews at St. Mark's Church, in Englefield Green, England. Not wanting to upstage her sister, Kate opted for a pale pink, silk Alexander McQueen dress, paired with a matching fascinator.
Kate Middleton At Hugh Van Cutsem Wedding
Kate Middleton at Hugh Van Cutsem Jr. and Rose Astor's Wedding
Back when Kate and Prince William were just boyfriend and girlfriend, Kate attended Will's close friend Hugh Van Cutsem's wedding wearing a cream blazer and Karen Millen skirt. Now, Will is the godfather of Cutsem's daughter Grace, who was also the flower girl at Kate and William's wedding.
Kate Middleton At Laura Parker Bowles Wedding
Kate Middleton at Laura Parker Bowles and Harry Lopes' Wedding
In 2006, Kate Middleton attended Laura Parker Bowles and Harry Lopes' wedding at St. Cyriac's Church in Wiltshire, England. Who's Laura Parker Bowles? She's Prince William and Prince Harry's step-sister! Bowles is related to the royal family by marriage through Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles.
Kate Middleton At Rose Windsor Wedding
Kate Middleton at Lady Rose Windsor and George Gilman's Wedding
In 2008, Kate Middleton attended yet another royal wedding as Prince William's girlfriend. (The prince, however, was attending another wedding in Kenya.) Lady Rose Windsor is considered the queen's first cousin, once removed — she married George Gilman at St. George's Chaple in Windsor, England.
Kate Middleton At Nicholas Van Cutsem
Kate Middleton at Nicholas Van Cutsem and Alice Hadden-Paton's Wedding
In 2009, Kate Middleton attended the wedding of Prince William's oldest friend, Nicholas Van Cutsem, at the Guards' Chapel in London. Of course, Kate looked stunning in her sky-blue Jane Troughton brocade coat and powder-blue Jane Corbett hat.
Kate Middleton and Prince William at Harry Meade's Wedding
Kate Middleton at Harry Meade and Rosie Bradford's Wedding
Prince William had finally popped the question by the time Kate was invited to attend Harry Meade and Rosie Bradford's wedding in 2010. (Even though the cat wasn't completely out of the bag.) Kate wore an over-the-top yet elegant wide-brimmed black hat with a black fitted jacket and an electric-blue Issa dress.
Kate Middleton At Sam Waley Cohen
Kate Middleton at Sam Waley-Cohen and Annabel Ballin's Wedding
In June 2011, Kate Middleton attended the wedding of her close friend Sam Waley-Cohen and his bride-to-be, Annabel Ballin. The brand-new duchess wore a black and white geometric-patterned Zara dress paired with a black Sylvia Fletcher for Lock and Co hat. Rumor has it that Waley-Cohen is responsible for Kate and William getting back together after breaking up in 2007.
Kate Middleton At Zara Phillips Wedding
Kate Middleton at Zara Phillips and Mike Tindall's Wedding
In 2011, Kate was back in the chapel yet again to attend the wedding of Zara Phillips, the queen's eldest granddaughter. We're absolutely in love with Kate's cream Day Birger et Mikkelsen coat and cream Gina Foster hat.
Kate Middleton At Emily Mccorquodale James Hutt Wedding
Kate Middleton at Emily McCorquodale and James Hutt's Wedding
In the summer of 2012, Kate Middleton attended the wedding of Princess Diana's niece at the Church of St. Andrew and St. Mary in Lincolnshire. The Duchess of Cambridge strutted in nude heels, a gray floral dress, and an embellished coat — in addition to a "recycled" hat that she had worn to the Epsom Derby in 2011.
Kate Middleton And Prince William At Tomlinson Wedding
Kate Middleton at Mark Tomlinson and Laura Bechtolsheimer's Wedding
Kate Middleton was pregnant with Prince George when she attended polo player Mark Tomlinson and Olympic gold medalist Laura Bechtolsheimer's wedding in 2013. Kate looked chicer than ever in a cream coat with a brown fur trim.
Kate Middleton At William Van Cutsem Wedding
Kate Middleton at William van Cutsem and Rosie Ruck Keene's Wedding
In 2013, Kate attended William van Cutsem and Rosie Ruck Keene's wedding with quite the baby bump — she was seven months pregnant with Prince George at the time. Kate wore another "recycled" dress, this time one she'd bought at Topshop and worn to Harry Potter World a few weeks prior to the wedding.
Kate Middleton At Harry Aubrey Fletcher Wedding
Kate Middleton at Harry Aubrey-Fletcher and Louise Stourton's Wedding
In 2011, Kate Middleton donned an all-black ensemble accessorized with plum-colored heels and a matching clutch to Aubrey-Fletcher and Louise Stourton's wedding at St. Andrew's Church in Britain.
Kate Middleton At Lucy Meade Charlie Budgett Wedding
Kate Middleton at Lucy Meade and Charlie Budgett's Wedding
In 2014, Kate Middleton attended her old friend Lucy Meade's wedding. Kate wore a blue tweed M Missoni coat (we've heard it's one of her favorites) and a navy Sylvia Fletcher hat.