Why Was Princess Diana a Princess and Not Kate? Inside Kate Middleton’s Royal Titles (Plus How She Could One Day Become a Princess)

In the royal family, princess titles typically refer to those who are either daughters or granddaughters of the monarch — aka, blood-related. And marrying a prince doesn’t automatically make you a princess (unless you were born into another royal family). But, as it turns out there are some exceptions to the royal family peerage rules — especially in the case of Princess Diana. Why was Princess Diana a princess and not Kate? We find out more about Kate Middleton’s royal titles, plus the one rule that says Kate could one day become a princess, ahead.

Left: Diana’s royal titles reflected Prince Charles’s. | Patrick Riviere/Getty Images, Right: Kate Middleton’s royal titles could change a lot in her life. | Anthony Devlin – WPA Pool /Getty Images

Why was Princess Diana a princess and not Kate?

Women in the royal family inherit their official royal titles from their husbands. So, why was Princess Diana a princess and not Kate? It all comes down to peerage. Even though Prince William is technically a prince, that doesn’t automatically mean Kate is a princess. Because his dukedom — Duke of Cambridge — is considered higher ranked than his prince status, both William and Kate go by duke and duchess. And, Kate doesn’t have princess in her official royal title (yet).

As for Princess Diana, her ex-husband, Prince Charles was (and still is) the Prince of Wales. That honorable title belongs to the heir to the throne, which automatically makes it higher ranked than any dukedom. Because of that loophole, Princess Diana was technically both a princess and a duchess but chose to go by princess since her particular princess title was worth more in royal peerage points.

Kate might not be a princess like her late mother-in-law right now, but there is a good chance she will become one. Once Prince Charles ascends the throne, Prince William will become heir to the throne. And, once he does, his father could officially name him the new Prince of Wales. Once that happens, Kate will become Princess of Wales. However, much like Camilla Parker Bowles (who is technically the Princess of Wales right now), Kate could choose to go by another one of her royal titles out of respect for Diana.

Kate Middleton’s royal titles

Unlike other members of the royal family — like Queen Elizabeth II, who has had quite a few royal titles — Kate Middleton’s royal titles aren’t as long-winded. However, because she is married to the future heir (and king) to the throne, her status will change many times throughout her life. Here are her current royal titles, plus the ones she might hold in the future.

Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge

On her royal wedding day, Kate Middleton received her first-ever royal title. And, since then has been known as Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge.

Countess of Strathearn

In addition to Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton’s royal titles also include one for Scotland and one for Northern Ireland. When in Scotland, she goes by Countess of Strathearn.

Lady Carrickfergus

Whenever Kate is on official business in Northern Ireland, she officially goes by Lady Carrickfergus, since Prince William’s official title there is Baron Carrickfergus.

Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall

Once Prince Charles ascends the throne, Prince William could receive a new set of royal titles — all of which have special meaning in the royal family peerage. The first title he might earn is Duke of Cornwall, which is a dukedom reserved for the eldest son of the monarch. As a result, Kate Middleton could drop Cambridge from her name and become the Duchess of Cornwall.

Her Royal Highness The Princess of Wales

In addition to Duchess of Cornwall, Kate Middleton could also earn princess status — and keep it for the rest of her life. If Prince Charles chooses to name his son the Prince of Wales — aka, the title given to the heir to the throne — Kate Middleton could become Princess of Wales.

Her Royal Highness Queen or Princess Consort

If Prince William ascends the throne, it is likely that Kate Middleton will also earn a new name. According to royal family peerage, the husband or wife of the monarch is known as a consort. In the past, wives typically became Queen Consorts to match their husbands’ king status. However, Princess Consort could also be used.

Queen Mother

If Kate outlives Prince William, she will see her son, Prince George ascend the throne. And, at that time, also earn a new royal title. Because she is the future monarch’s mother, she would become Queen Mother once George is king.

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