Royal and noble styles
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.
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, sovereign princes, reigning dukes and princely counts, their families and the agnatic descendants of emperors and kings. Royals (usually emperors to princely counts) are all considered "princes" (German: Fürsten).
- Emperors and empresses enjoyed the style of Imperial Majesty (HIM); the most recent former example was HIM Emperor Akihito of Japan. In modern times, the Emperor uses the simpler style of Majesty instead.
- Members of imperial families generally hold the style of Imperial Highness (HIH).
- In the Austrian Empire, the Emperor was also the King of Hungary, and thus bore the style of Imperial and Royal Majesty. Subsequently, members of the imperial family, who were also members of the royal family of Hungary, held the style of Imperial and Royal Highness (HI&RH). Abbreviation to Imperial Highness is common and accepted.
- In the German Empire, the other "heir" to the Holy Roman Empire, the emperor and empress were also addressed as Imperial and Royal Majesty, as they ruled over both the Empire and Kingdom of Prussia. Similarly, the crown prince of the Empire and Prussia was styled Imperial and Royal Highness. Other members of the House of Prussia, having no constitutional place in the Empire as such, were only entitled to the style of Royal Highness.
- In Imperial Russia, children and male-line grandchildren of the Emperor bore the style of Imperial Highness. Male-line great-grandchildren held the style of Highness; also, the eldest son of any person who held the style of Highness also held the style of Highness. All other male-line descendants held the style of Serenity, often translated as "Serene Highness". Some Russian noble princes also hold the style of Serenity; all others and Russian princely counts hold the style of Illustriousness, often translated as "Illustrious Highness".
- Kings and queens have the style of Majesty.
- Members of royal families (princes and princesses) generally have the style of Royal Highness, although in some royal families (for instance, Denmark), more junior princes and princesses bear the style of Highness.
- Reigning grand dukes and grand duchesses hold the style of Royal Highness.
- The styles of members of grand ducal families have been inconsistent. In Luxembourg, more senior members of the family have also been Royal Highnesses, but only due to their status as Princes of Bourbon-Parma (itself an inconsistency as Parma was only ducal, but this family has male-line descent from kings of Etruria, Spain and France). In Baden and Hesse and by Rhine, junior members held the style of Grand Ducal Highness. Members of other grand ducal families (for instance, Oldenburg) generally held the style of Highness.
- Reigning dukes and duchesses bore the style of Highness, as did other members of ducal families. Junior members of some ducal families bore the style of Ducal Serene Highness, although it fell out of fashion.
- The elector of Hesse-Kassel also bore the style of Highness, as did other members of the Hesse-Kassel family.
- Reigning princes bear the style of Serene Highness (German: Durchlaucht, French: Son Altesse Sérénissime), as do other members of princely families. Mediatized dukes and princes also bear the style of Serene Highness.
- Mediatized princely counts and countesses bear the style of Illustrious Highness (HIllH, German: Erlaucht).
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 the United Kingdom was customarily referred to as "Britannic Majesty", of France as "Christian Majesty", of Spain as "Catholic Majesty", of Hungary as "Apostolic Majesty", of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation as "August 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 is, "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".
Noble styles in France
- Children and male-line grandchildren of the King used the style of très haut, très puissant et excellent prince or Royal Highness and Monseigneur, followed by their main title
- Louis, Grand Dauphin used only the style of Monseigneur
- The oldest brother of the King used only the style of Monsieur
- Younger brothers of the King used only the style of Monseigneur , followed by their main title
- Princes of the Blood used the style of très haut et très puissant prince or Serene Highness and Monseigneur, followed by their main title
- The First Prince of the Blood used only the style of Monsieur le Prince
- The Head of the House of Condé used only the style of Monsieur le Duc
- Foreign princes used the title of haut et puissant prince and claimed the right to use the style of Highness and Monseigneur, followed by their main title
- Dukes and Peers used the style of très-haut et très-puissant seigneur, but in the 18th century, that style was used by lesser-ranked nobles
- Other titled nobility used the style of très haut et puissant seigneur or haut et puissant seigneur
Noble styles in the United Kingdom
- Dukes and duchesses in the peerages of England, Scotland, Great Britain, Ireland, and the United Kingdom, as well as nobility bearing the title of "Prince" (who are not royalty of highness) bear the style of Grace, e.g. "His Grace", "Your Grace". They also hold the style of Most High, Potent, and Noble Prince, but even in the most formal situations, this is usually shortened to The Most Noble, which is still considered to be very formal.
- Marquesses and marchionesses bear the styles of The Most Honourable and Lordship (e.g. "His Lordship," "Her Ladyship," "Your Lordship," and "Your Ladyship.") They also hold the style of Most Noble and Potent Prince, but even in the most formal situations this style is rarely used.
- Earls, countesses, viscounts, viscountesses, barons, and baronesses bear the styles of The Right Honourable and Lordship.
- Scottish barons bear the style of The Much Honoured.
Noble styles in Germany
- Mediatized dukes (German: Reichsherzöge) and princes (German: Reichsfürsten) in Germany bear the style of Serene Highness (German: Durchlaucht) or, in the case of dukes, Ducal Serene Highness. With regard to dukes, this fell out of use in the 19th century, at least for the reigning members (who are styled as Highness).
- Mediatized counts (German: Reichsgrafen) in Germany bear the style of Illustrious Highness (German: Erlaucht).
- Non-mediatized noble dukes (German: Herzöge) and princes (German: Fürsten) used to bear the title of Ducal/Princely Grace (German: herzogliche/fürstliche Gnaden). They are rare, though, and at the beginning of the 20th century, they were altogether granted the style of Serene Highness by Emperor Franz Joseph I.
- Non-mediatized counts (German: Grafen) in Germany bear the style of High Born (German: Hochgeboren).
- Other German nobles below the rank of count bear the style of High Well Born (German: Hochwohlgeboren). Another style is Well Born (German: Wohlgeboren), which ranks below High Well Born, but it is not used for proper nobility and has therefore fallen out of use.
Sources and references
- RoyalArk, mainly for non-European monarchies
- Genealogists Discover Royal Roots for All
- Clergy, Ecclesiastical Addresses, Prince of the church
- Forms of address in the United Kingdom
- Prince compares various types of Princes of the blood and ruling princes
- Princely state treats the nobility, mainly ruling houses, in the colonial context of the British Empire
- Royal and noble ranks
- Thai royal and noble titles
- False titles of nobility