Technically, We Could Be Calling Kate Middleton ‘Princess William’

Royal titles can be quite confusing even for the most knowledgeable royal follower. Besides the fact that most royal family members can hold multiple titles at once — like the Prince of Wales simultaneously being the Duke of Cornwall — there are also some unique conventions that most commoners don’t realize.

For example, many people still call Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge by her maiden name, Kate Middleton, because they can’t figure out how else to refer to her. Soon enough she’ll be queen consort alongside her husband Prince William and will have a completely new title.

And right now? She could technically be called Princess William of Wales. Here’s why.

Kate Middleton
Kate Middleton | Phil Noble – Pool/Getty Images

Kate Middleton is technically a princess — but not Princess Kate

Right now, the Duchess of Cambridge is really a princess because she is married to a prince. And not just any prince — Prince William is second in line to the throne and will become king after his father Prince Charles dies or retires.

But even though Kate is a princess, it would not be correct to call her “Princess Kate.” That’s because she became a royal family through marriage and is therefore required to take her husband’s name with the princess title. Only so-called “blood princesses” may use their own names with the princess title, including royals such as Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice.

Though she does not use it, it would be correct to style Kate’s name as Princess William of Wales.

Princess Diana was not her actual name

Princess Diana
Princess Diana | Anwar Hussein/WireImage

Another famous princess through marriage also should have followed that rule but over the years, her fans have gradually altered her name through usage. The proper way to refer to Prince Charles’s ex-wife was Diana, Princess of Wales or Princess Charles of Wales.

But that seemed overly complicated, so the press plus her millions of fans simply shortened it to Princess Diana even though that was incorrect. We still call her Princess Diana today.

At least one royal family member uses her husband’s name

Prince Michael and Princess Michael of Kent
Prince Michael of Kent and Princess Michael of Kent | Alexander Koerner/Getty Images

Royal fans may have heard of Princess Michael of Kent, another famous royal resident in the apartments at Kensington Palace and neighbors of the Cambridge family. Princess Michael is the wife of — you guessed it — Prince Michael of Kent, which is why she styles her name that way. Her husband Michael is Queen Elizabeth’s first cousin.

Even though Kate can be called Princess William, it’s not a title she uses, just like Diana never used Princess Charles as her name.

Kate Middleton’s name will change again when she becomes queen

Kate Middleton
Kate Middleton | Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

William and Kate’s daughter is and always will be Princess Charlotte because she’s yet another princess through birth, not marriage. But Kate’s name will change yet again once Prince William ascends the throne.

When the queen made William the Duke of Cambridge, Kate became the Duchess of Cambridge through marriage (though it’s not correct to call her Duchess Kate). However, once she becomes queen consort you’ll be able to call her Queen Catherine.

We don’t know what name William will choose for his reign. But it’s nice to know we’ll finally be able to call Kate a queen, officially.