Today, after the wedding of Prince William to Catherine Middleton, the couple will now be known, officially, as His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge and Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge.
Prince William, according to a statement released by the press secretary to Queen Elizabeth, will also now have the titles "Earl of Strathearn" and "Baron Carrickfergus."
According to the release, in 1706, George Augustus, the only son of George I, was created as the Duke of Cambridge. When his father, George Ludwig, Elector of Hanover, become George I upon ascending to the throne, George Augustus also became the Duke of Cornwall and the Prince of Wales. When he became George II, the title merged with the crown, thus ending the title.
Previously, the four sons of James II had each been created the Duke of Cambridge. However, all died as infants. Cambridge has also previously been a medieval royal title as an Earldom. The Dukedom of Cambridge was created in 1801, and became extinct upon the death of the 2nd Duke of Cambridge in 1904. Following, Cambridge was a Marquessate, from 1917, when the title was conferred upon Queen Mary’s brother, until 1981, when the 2nd Marquess died. At this point, the title became extinct.
Other members of the royal family hold titles, as well. Unlike the title of “prince” or “princess,” which is automatic at birth, the queen generally confers the additional titles upon family members when they are wed. For example, Prince Andrew became the eighth Duke of York upon his marriage. Prince Edward became the Earl of Wessex when he was married. “Earl” is considered a lesser title than “Duke,” but many believe that Queen Elizabeth is intending to create Prince Edward the Duke of Edinburgh after the death of his father, Prince Philip, who is the current Duke of Edinburgh.
In the case of Prince Charles, who is not only the Duke of Cornwall, but also the Prince of Wales, he retains the title of “prince” because he is the heir to the throne, and that title takes precedence over the title of “Duke of Cornwall,” explains Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk of mLive.com. This is why Diana became HRH Princess Diana of Wales upon marriage to Charles, and not HRH The Duchess of Cornwall. Camilla, on the other hand, is known as the Duchess of Cornwall because she is married to Prince Charles, but is not the mother of Prince William or Prince Harry.
Interestingly, Prince Charles is known as the “Duke of Rothesay” rather than “Cornwall” in Scotland, as Cornwall is in England and Rothesay is in Scotland. Camilla, too, is known as the “Duchess of Rothesay” in Scotland.
Still, it is likely that the public and the press will continue to use the titles "prince" and "princess" for the newlyweds, official or not; it just has a more romantic ring for what is hoped by many to be a fairytale pairing for the future king and queen of England.
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