Kate Middleton To Be The Princess Of Wales? Here Is How She Can Inherit Diana’s Royal Title

When Kate Middleton married Prince William in 2011, she became the Duchess of Cambridge, but she won’t keep the title forever. Official titles are a big deal in the royal family. Not only do they indicate rank and determine roles, but they also note accomplishments and sometimes maturity. This means that there will come a day when Middleton will inherit Diana’s former title Princess of Wales, but how will she get the title upgrade?

Kate Middleton the Duchess of Cambridge
Kate Middleton the Duchess of Cambridge | Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

Middleton just received a new title

Recently, Queen Elizabeth rewarded the Duchess of Cambridge with the title of Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO) because of her tireless work during the last eight years as a high-ranking member of the royal family.

The family’s official website announced Middleton’s new title, which she earned because of her work and accomplishments, not because she got married. However, many of the titles in the family are bestowed because of marriage, and sometimes because of death.

The title doesn’t happen automatically

The last person to use the title Princess of Wales was Diana, and that’s because she was married to Charles, the Prince of Wales. Since the 1200s, the heir apparent to the British throne is designated the title Prince of Wales, with the wife becoming the Princess of Wales.

Consequently, when Queen Elizabeth – who is 93 years old – passes away, Charles will become King and Prince William will become the heir apparent. This will make him the Prince of Wales, and Kate Middleton will inherit the title Princess of Wales.

Prince William and Kate Middleton on their wedding day.
TRH Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge | Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images

However, this won’t happen automatically. When Prince Charles becomes England’s monarch, he must grant William the title as a “personal honor,” just as his mom did for him in 1958 when he was 9-years-old.

Charles was “crowned” the Prince of Wales on July 1, 1969, at the age of 20, so because he already had that title, Diana automatically received her title when they got married.

Some royal fans might wonder why Camilla Parker Bowles is called the Duchess of Cornwall instead of the Princess of Wales. And, the simple answer is that she doesn’t use the title because of its association with Diana.

Millions watched Charles become the Prince of Wales

According to Popsugar, part of the tradition with the title Prince of Wales is the crowning, known as an “investiture,” and it’s very similar to a coronation. When Prince Charles was crowned in 1969, more than 500 million people watched the ceremony on television, and author Sally Bedell Smith describes the event in her new book Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life.

“The queen crowned her son with a highly stylized and bejeweled coronet and draped him with a cape of purple velvet,” writes Smith.

Prince Charles And Princess Diana | Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)

Prince William’s investiture will likely be a major royal event, but just because he and Middleton will inherit the new titles, it doesn’t mean they will use them. Most likely, William will take the title Prince of Wales, but Middleton may choose to keep her Duchess of Cambridge title out of respect for Princess Diana, just like Parker-Bowles. Or, she could opt to use the title as a way to carry on Diana’s legacy.

The Duchess of Cambridge will never be the Queen of England

Many people assume that when Prince William becomes the King of England that will automatically make Middleton the Queen, but that’s not how it works.

Royal tradition is that when the Duke of Cambridge is crowned King, his wife will become Queen consort.

“Unless decided otherwise, a Queen consort is crowned with the King, in a similar but simpler ceremony,” says the palace’s official website.

The rules are different for male and female spouses of a British monarch, but this is essentially why the Queen’s husband, Prince Philip, wasn’t crowned the King of England when she became the country’s monarch in 1952. Instead, the Duke of Edinburgh was made a consort.

Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles
Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall | Photo by Chris Jackson-WPA Pool/Getty Images

When Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles married in 2005, Clarence House announced that the Duchess of Cornwall would receive the title of Princess Consort instead of Queen consort when Charles becomes king.

The palace website removed that statement in 2018, so it’s not clear what her title will be when Charles becomes the King of England.