King, Queen, Prince, Duke: Are Royal Titles Capitalized?


Capitalize words like king, queen, prince, duke, and duchess when used before a name or as part of a title.

  • King Charles III is the son of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
  • How do you address the Duchess of Sussex?

Capitalize such words even when they appear after a name if used as part of a title rather than descriptively.

  • Prince George is the eldest child of William, Prince of Wales, and Catherine, Princess of Wales.
  • Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, is Prince William’s brother.

Don’t capitalize them when they stand alone or are used as common nouns.

  • He was a king among men.
  • Is he a royal duke?

References to a specific person may also be capitalized. Specifically, in British usage, titles of royalty (but not necessarily nobility) are always capitalized.

  • The Duke has refused to comment.

Capitalize forms of address like your majesty, but lowercase sir, ma’am, my lord, etc.

  • Would you like some tea, Your Majesty?
  • Yes, my lord.

Royal and noble titles

Royal titles are those held by royalty, or the families of sovereigns. Nobility are the aristocratic class. In Britain, the royal family includes the family of the sovereign. Dukes, marquesses (or marquises), earls, viscounts, and barons comprise the nobility, and life peers are those whose titles are not inherited nor passed down after their lifetimes.

  • The longest reigning monarch in British history is Queen Elizabeth II.
  • Her son is King Charles III.
  • Her husband was the Duke of Edinburgh.
  • This castle belonged to the Earl of Northampton.

British nobles are often referred to by the appellations Lord and Lady (but note that complex traditions exist around who can be referred to by which title and how royals and nobles are addressed).

  • This castle belonged to Lord Northampton.
  • We met Lady Susan at the fundraiser.

When to capitalize

Capitalize words like queen, prince, duke, duchess, and earl when they form part of a name or title or are used before a name.

  • The only daughter of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip is Princess Anne.
  • Their youngest son is Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex.
  • Prince Charles first met Lady Diana in 1977.
  • After her marriage, Lady Diana became the Princess of Wales.
  • King Charles III was the longest-serving heir apparent in British history.
  • Prince William is now the Prince of Wales and also the Duke of Cambridge.
  • In 1936, King Edward VIII abdicated the throne to marry the woman he loved.
  • My friend’s father is the Marquess of Hertford.
  • The last viceroy of India was Lord Mountbatten.
  • The first female prime minister of the United Kingdom was Baroness Margaret Thatcher.
  • This school was established in 1909 by the Maharaja of Sundarpur.
  • Maya is reading a book on Raja Vikramaditya.
  • The assassination of Archduke Ferdinand in 1914 is thought to be the immediate cause of World War I.
  • The last emperor of Russia was Tsar Nicholas II.

Omit the article the if a title follows a name.

  • Prince William, the Prince of Wales, is first in line to the British throne.
  • Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, is an American member of the British royal family.

But if a title is used standalone, not as part of a name, use the as appropriate.

  • The Prince of Wales is first in line to the British throne.
  • She became the Duchess of Sussex when she married Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex.

Sometimes, a title may also be capitalized to refer to a specific person.

  • No, I’ve never met the King.
    a specific king—the King of England, for example
  • We have contacted the Duke for clarification.
    a specific duke, referred to earlier in the text
  • The Sheikh has requested your presence.

In formal writing, however, lowercasing is preferred when titles are used as common nouns instead of as names.

  • Both the duke and the duchess sat through the entire performance.
    The Duke and Duchess of Sussex sat through the entire performance.

When not to capitalize

In general, don’t capitalize titles of royalty and nobility when they stand alone and are not part of a title or name.

  • Meghan Markle became a duchess when she married the Duke of Sussex.
    In this sentence, lowercase the word duchess, used as a common noun, but capitalize duke, which is part of a name.
  • He was born a prince and later became a gardener.
  • She is the daughter of an earl.
  • As an accountant, he might be rich, but as a duke, he is poor.
  • He was made baron in 1923 and died the same year.
  • The maharajas of the two kingdoms have signed a treaty.
  • The tsars of Russia had absolute authority.
Avoid capitalizing titles when they’re used as common nouns instead of proper nouns.

Note that in British usage, titles of royalty (but not necessarily nobility) are capitalized even when not used as part of a name.

  • The Duke has crashed his car.
    a royal duke
  • The duke has bought a yacht.
    a regular duke, not a royal one

Royal family: Is it capitalized?

Avoid capitalizing common nouns like family even when referring to a specific family—for example, the British royal family. Here are some examples from published content that show the term “royal family” lowercased.

  • It’s worth noting that the royal family is entitled to income from the duchies, but not the underlying capital.
    — “Dissecting the royal family’s wealth,” New York Times (September 12, 2022)
  • Tensions persist inside the royal family, underscored by the decision of Harry and his wife, Meghan, to step away from their royal duties.
    — “After a lifetime of preparation, Charles takes the throne,” AP News (September 9, 2022)
  • The royal family, including King Charles III, will attend a service at the cathedral.
    — “Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral procession arrives in Edinburgh,” ABC News (September 12, 2022)
  • Not until 1967 were they invited to participate in an official public ceremony with other members of the royal family.
    — “Britannica’s coverage of past British royal weddings,” Encyclopedia Britannica (Accessed September 13, 2022)

In British usage, the term “royal family” is capitalized in some styles when referring to the British royal family. The BBC, for instance, capitalizes the term (thus treating it as a proper noun), but the Guardian and Economist lowercase it, in line with other publications around the world.

  • It was the first time the members of the Royal Family had been seen together in public since the Queen’s death on Thursday.
    — “Royal Family meet well-wishers at Balmoral,” BBC News (September 11, 2022)
  • but
  • Members of the royal family were given spontaneous applause at the gate to Balmoral Castle after stopping to talk to well-wishers and inspect the deep mound of flowers lying at the wall.
    — “Members of the royal family inspect floral tributes at Balmoral,” Guardian (September 10, 2022)
  • The royal family’s wealth comes from a complex variety of sources: taxpayers, estates (known as duchies) and other privately held assets.
    — “What King Charles could mean for royal finances,” Economist (September 10, 2022)

Forms of address: Your majesty, your lordship, my lord

Capitalize forms of address and honorifics, such as your majesty, your highness, and your lordship, used to address royals and nobles.

  • More tea, Your Majesty?
  • Of course, Your Royal Highness.
  • Thank you, Your Grace.
  • Here are the stamps, Your Lordship.

Such forms of respectful address are capitalized even when used to refer to someone in the third person.

  • I’m making tea biscuits for Her Majesty.
  • Will His Grace the Duke of Norfolk be making an appearance?
  • They say that Her Royal Highness was greatly affected by the children’s plight.
  • Has Her Ladyship arrived?

Royals and nobles are also addressed respectfully as sir, ma’am, miss, my lord, and my lady. Such forms of address are generally lowercased. This is a matter of style rather than grammar: it is not wrong to capitalize, but lowercasing is more common.

  • Would that be all, sir?
  • Would you like a biscuit, ma’am?
  • Thank you, my lord.
  • Of course, my lady.

But always capitalize forms of address like my lord in salutations—for example, at the start of an email.

  • My Lord,
  • Dear Sir,
  • Dear Madam,

Capitalizing the in royal titles

In general, don’t capitalize the article the when it precedes a royal or noble title in running text, but capitalize it when addressing a person (e.g., on an envelope).

  • How many tiaras does the Queen have?
  • She is the daughter of the Prince of Wales.
  • When did you interview the Duchess of Sussex?
  • HM The King
    on an envelope
  • His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales
    in an address
  • HRH The Prince of Wales

The word the is generally not capitalized in titles. But note that capitalization is a matter of style and can differ across publications. For example, on the official website of the British royal family, many words and phrases, like royal family, palace, and the word the before a title, are capitalized. In formal writing, such words are generally lowercased. In news copy, they may be capitalized or lowercased, depending on the publication’s house style. As an editor, respect the writer’s preference.

Other titles

Other official and social titles, including civil, military, religious, and professional, are also generally capitalized only when used before a name or to address a person, but lowercased otherwise.

  • Anita has published a paper on the rise of President Trump.
  • Our squad was led by Captain Cook.
  • We met Bishop Campbell in church on Sunday.
  • Poco was hired by Director Patel.
  • but
  • Joe Biden became president in 2021.
  • My sister is a captain in the Army.
  • Both bishops attended the ceremony.
  • The CEOs and directors are all here for the conference.

Quick Quiz

Which capitalization style is correct?
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Which is correct?
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Which is correct?
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Which style is preferred in formal writing?
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