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Monsignor is both a title and an honorific in the Roman Catholic Church. In francophone countries, it is rendered Monseigneur, and this spelling is also commonly encountered in Canadian English practice. Nowadays, the title is used for bishops. In France, monsignori are not usually addressed as monseigneur, but by the more common term monsieur l'abbé, as are priests. The plural form is Messeigneurs.
Prior to the overthrow of the French monarchy in 1792, Monseigneur equated to His Royal Highness or His Serene Highness when used as part of the title of a royal prince, as in Monseigneur le comte de Provence. King Louis XIV promoted the use of Monseigneur without the title as a style for the dauphin de France but this use lapsed in the 18th century. French royalists commonly style the current pretender Monseigneur. In his book A Tale of Two Cities Charles Dickens uses this honorific as a collective noun denoting the great nobility as a class.
This form of formal address is currently still in use at courts in Belgium, Luxembourg, Monaco and France. Royal princes are formally addressed in the old French style. By tradition a Belgian or Luxembourgian prince is addressed as "Monseigneur" rather than "Your Royal Highness". The word "Monseigneur" is used when addressing a prince in any of Belgium's official languages, there being no Dutch or German equivalent. In France, it is also sometimes used when addressing Henri d'Orléans, Count of Paris and Louis Alphonse, Duke of Anjou, two pretenders to the French Throne and Albert II, Sovereign of Monaco (French style always is used in Monaco). The spouse of the prince is addressed as Madame.
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