The use of the title of Princess of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is entirely at the will of the sovereign as expressed in letters patent. Individuals holding the title of princess are styled "Her Royal Highness" (HRH). On 18 April 1917, Frederica of Hanover, the newest granddaughter of Wilhelm II, German Emperor was styled a British princess from birth, even though Germany and Britain were fighting in WWI. Before the First World War, British princesses also held additional German titles, such as princesses of Hanover by virtue of being male line descendants of George III; or princesses of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, duchess of Saxony, by virtue of being male line descendants of Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. George V issued letters patent on 30 November 1917, to restrict the automatic assignment of the title "princess" and the use of the style "Royal Highness" to the following persons:
On 31 December 2012, Queen Elizabeth II issued letters patent enabling all children of the eldest son of the prince of Wales to enjoy the princely title and style of Royal Highness, as opposed to only the eldest son.
Under the current practice, princesses of the royal blood are the legitimate daughters and the legitimate male line granddaughters of a British sovereign. They are dynasts, that is potential successors to the throne. For these individuals, the title "Princess of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland" and the style "Her Royal Highness" is an entitlement for life. The title Princess and the style Royal Highness is prefixed to the Christian name, before another title of honour. From 1714 until 1917, the male-line great-granddaughters of the Sovereign were titled "Princess of Great Britain and Ireland" with the style "Highness". Since 1917, the male-line great-granddaughters of the Sovereign have held "the style and title enjoyed by the children of dukes". For example, the daughters of Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester, a male line grandson of George V, are styled Lady Davina Windsor and Lady Rose Gilman.
Princesses by marriage are the recognised wives of the sovereign's sons and male-line grandsons. Generally, these women are entitled to the style "Royal Highness" by virtue of marriage, and retain the style if widowed. However, Elizabeth II issued letters patent dated 21 August 1996 stating that any woman divorced from a prince of the United Kingdom would no longer be entitled to the style "Royal Highness". This has so far applied to Diana, Princess of Wales, and Sarah, Duchess of York.
Since the passage of the Royal Marriages Act 1772, there have been several instances in which princes of the blood contracted marriages in contravention of that act, to women deemed unsuitable to be a royal wife. This meant they were not legally married, and would allow the Sovereign to withhold the style "Her Royal Highness" from the bride, as well as any title in the peerage held by the groom. For example, Prince George, Duke of Cambridge, a male-line grandson of King George III, 'married' Sarah Louisa Fairbrother: the marriage was in contravention of the Royal Marriages Act, and therefore legally invalid. Accordingly, the duke's wife was never titled the Duchess of Cambridge or accorded the style "Her Royal Highness". Instead, she was known as "Mrs FitzGeorge". An exception to the rule was created for King Edward VIII following his 1936 abdication. King George VI issued letters patent dated 27 May 1937 that entitled The Duke of Windsor, as Edward was now entitled, "to hold and enjoy for himself only the title style or attribute of Royal Highness so however that his wife and descendants if any shall not hold the said title style or attribute".
The wife of a prince of the blood takes her husband's Christian name in her title as do all married royal women. For example, upon her marriage to Prince Michael of Kent in 1978, Baroness Marie-Christine von Reibnitz assumed the title and style of "Her Royal Highness Princess Michael of Kent". Similarly, upon her marriage to then Prince Richard of Gloucester, the former Birgitte van Deurs assumed the title and style of "Her Royal Highness Princess Richard of Gloucester". Upon marriage, the wife of the prince of Wales becomes "Her Royal Highness The Princess of Wales". Upon marriage, the wife of a royal duke (or earl) becomes "Her Royal Highness The Duchess (or Countess) of X". When Prince Richard of Gloucester succeeded to his father's dukedom in 1974, his wife became "Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Gloucester".
There is also the case when a princess of blood royal marries a British prince. She also becomes a princess by marriage and will be addressed in the same way. An example of this situation was the late Princess Alexandra, Duchess of Fife, when she married her cousin Prince Arthur of Connaught and became "Princess Arthur of Connaught, Duchess of Fife".
Typically a princess by marriage should not be called princess followed by her first name. Diana, Princess of Wales, was consistently referred to as "Princess Diana" by fans and the media, but the use of this title is completely erroneous, as she was not the child of a monarch nor the child of a son of a monarch. However, this tradition was broken once in the past century with Elizabeth II's aunt, Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, being referred to—with permission from the sovereign—in official sources as such following the death of her husband.
The use of the titles prince and princess and the styles of Highness and Royal Highness for members of the Royal Family is of fairly recent usage in the British Isles. Before 1714, there was no settled practice regarding the use of the titles prince and princess other than the heir apparent and his wife. From 1301 onward, the eldest sons of the Kings of England (and later Great Britain and the United Kingdom) have generally been created Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester. Their wives were titled Princess of Wales.
The title Princess Royal came into being in 1642 when Queen Henrietta Maria, the French-born wife of King Charles I, wished to imitate the way the eldest daughter of the French King was styled (Madame Royale). However, there was no settled practice on the use of the title princess for the Sovereign's younger daughters or male-line granddaughters. For example, as late as the time of King Charles II, the daughters of his brother James, Duke of York, both of whom became Queens regnant, were called simply "The Lady Mary" and "The Lady Anne". The future Queen Anne was styled princess in her marriage treaty to Prince George of Denmark and then styled "Princess Anne of Denmark" once married. However, in exile at Saint-Germain-en-Laye the deposed James II & VII gave the title of Princess Royal to his last daughter, Louisa Maria (1692–1712).
After the accession of George Louis of Hanover as King George I, the princely titles were changed to follow the German practice. The children, grandchildren, and male line great-grandchildren of the British Sovereign were automatically titled "Prince or Princess of Great Britain and Ireland" and styled "Royal Highness" (in the case of children and grandchildren) or "Highness" (in the case of male line great-grandchildren). Queen Victoria confirmed this practice in letters patent dated 30 January 1864 (the first Act of the Prerogative dealing with the princely title in general terms).
On 31 December 2012, Elizabeth II issued letters patent enabling all children of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales to enjoy the princely title and style of Royal Highness, as opposed to only the eldest son.
When a princess marries, she still takes on her husband's title. If the title is higher than (or equal to) the one she possesses, she will normally be styled using the female equivalent. If her husband has a lower title or style, her style as a princess remains in use, although it may then be combined with her style by marriage, e.g. HRH The Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll or HRH Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone – if that princess had a territorial designation, she may cease its use. It has become customary, however, for a princess who has been granted the title of HRH The Princess Royal to not combine it with her style by marriage: Princess Anne remains HRH The Princess Royal rather than HRH The Princess Royal, Lady Laurence.
A princess by marriage is addressed as "Princess Husband's name"; this is akin to a woman being referred to as "Mrs. John Smith". The only recent time this has broken tradition is with the sovereign's express consent. Namely, with Queen Elizabeth II's aunts Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, and Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent. The former was not a princess by birth, while the latter was born a princess of Greece and Denmark. Both women asked the Queen to use their given names after their husbands' deaths.
There have been several exceptions in recent history to these rules, but all have come by order of the Sovereign, mostly through letters patent.
|Full Name||Lifespan||Royal lineage||Right||Notes|
|Sophia Dorothea||1687–1757||Only daughter of King George I||Created Princess by the sovereign|
|Anne||1709–1759||1st daughter of King George II||Created Princess by the sovereign|
|Amelia Sophia Eleanor||1711–1786||2nd daughter of King George II||Created Princess by the sovereign|
|Caroline Elizabeth||1713–1757||3rd daughter of King George II||Created Princess by the sovereign|
|Mary||1723–1772||4th daughter of King George II||Princess from birth|
|Louise||1724–1751||5th daughter of King George II||Princess from birth|
||Princess from birth|
||Princess from birth|
||Princess from birth|
||Princess from birth|
|Charlotte Augusta Matilda||1766–1828||1st daughter of King George III||Princess from birth|
|Augusta Sophia||1768–1840||2nd daughter of King George III||Princess from birth|
|Elizabeth||1770–1840||3rd daughter of King George III||Princess from birth|
|Mary||1776–1857||4th daughter of King George III||Princess from birth|
|Sophia Matilda||1777–1848||5th daughter of King George III||Princess from birth|
|Amelia||1783–1810||6th daughter of King George III||Princess from birth|
||Princess from birth|
|Caroline Augusta Maria||1774–1775||
||Princess from birth|
|Charlotte Augusta||1796–1817||Only daughter of King George IV||Princess from birth|
|Charlotte Augusta Louisa||1819–1819||1st daughter of King William IV||Princess from birth|
|Elizabeth Georgiana Adelaide||1820–1821||2nd daughter of King William IV||Princess from birth|
later, Queen Victoria
||Princess from birth|
|Augusta Caroline Charlotte Elizabeth Mary Sophia Louise||1822–1916||Granddaughter of King George III||Princess from birth|
|Mary Adelaide Wilhemina Elizabeth||1833–1897||
||Princess from birth|
|Victoria Adelaide Mary Louisa||1840–1901||1st daughter of Queen Victoria||Princess from birth|
|Alice Maud Mary||1843–1878||2nd daughter of Queen Victoria||Princess from birth|
|Helena Augusta Victoria||1846–1923||3rd daughter of Queen Victoria||Princess from birth|
|Frederica Sophie Marie Henrietta Amelia Theresa||1848–1926||Great-granddaughter of King George III||Princess from birth|
|Louise Caroline Alberta||1848–1939||4th daughter of Queen Victoria||Princess from birth|
|Marie Ernestine Josephine Adolphine Henrietta Theresa Elisabeth Alexandrina||1849–1904||Great-granddaughter of King George III||Princess from birth|
|Beatrice Mary Victoria Feodore||1857–1944||5th daughter of Queen Victoria||Princess from birth|
|Louise Victoria Alexandra Dagmar||1867–1931||1st daughter of King Edward VII||Princess from birth|
|Victoria Alexandra Olga Mary||1868–1935||2nd daughter of King Edward VII||Princess from birth|
|Maud Charlotte Mary Victoria||1869–1938||3rd daughter of King Edward VII||Princess from birth|
|Marie Alexandra Victoria||1875–1938||Granddaughter of Queen Victoria||Princess from birth|
|Victoria Melita||1876–1936||Granddaughter of Queen Victoria||Princess from birth|
|Alexandra Louise Olga Victoria||1878–1942||Granddaughter of Queen Victoria||Princess from birth|
|Marie Louise Victoria Caroline Amelia Alexandra Augusta Frederica||1879–1948||Great-great-granddaughter of King George III||Princess from birth|
|Margaret Victoria Charlotte Augusta Norah||1882–1920||Granddaughter of Queen Victoria||Princess from birth|
|Alexandra Marie Louise Olga Elizabeth Theresa Vera||1882–1963||
||Princess from birth|
|Alice Mary Victoria Augusta Pauline||1883–1981||Granddaughter of Queen Victoria||Princess from birth|
|Beatrice Leopoldine Victoria||1884–1966||Granddaughter of Queen Victoria||Princess from birth|
|Olga Adelaide Louise Marie Alexandrina Agnes||1884–1958||
||Princess from birth|
|Victoria Patricia Helena Elizabeth||1886–1974||Granddaughter of Queen Victoria||Princess from birth|
|Alexandra Victoria Alberta Edwina Louise||1891–1959||Granddaughter in female line of King Edward VII||Created Princess by the sovereign|
|Maud Alexandra Victoria Georgina Bertha||1893–1945||Granddaughter in female line of King Edward VII||Created Princess by the sovereign|
|Victoria Alexandra Alice Mary||1897–1965||Daughter of King George V||Princess from birth|
|Sibylla Calma Maria Alice Bathildis Feodora||1907–1972||Great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria||Princess from birth|
|Caroline Matilda Helen Louise Augusta Beatrice||1912–1983||Great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria||Princess from birth|
|Frederica Louisa Thyra Victoria Margareta Olga Cécilie Isabella Christa||1917–1981||Great-great-great-granddaughter of King George III||Princess from birth|
|Elizabeth Alexandra Mary
later, Queen Elizabeth II
|1926–2022||1st daughter of King George VI||Princess from birth|
|Margaret Rose||1930–2002||2nd daughter of King George VI||Princess from birth|
|Alexandra Helen Elizabeth Olga Christabel||1936–present||Granddaughter of King George V||Princess from birth|
|Anne Elizabeth Alice Louise||1950–present||Daughter of Queen Elizabeth II||Princess from birth|
|Beatrice Elizabeth Mary||1988–present||Granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth II||Princess from birth|
|Eugenie Victoria Helena||1990–present||Granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth II||Princess from birth|
|Louise Alice Elizabeth Mary||2003–present||Granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth II||Princess from birth|
|Charlotte Elizabeth Diana||2015–present||Granddaughter of King Charles III||Princess from birth|
|Lilibet Diana||2021–present||Granddaughter of King Charles III||Princess since the accession of her grandfather|
|Title of Princess where spouse's title was eliminated by Letters Patent issued 30 November 1917 or Order in Council in 1919|
|Princess Caroline of Brandenburg-Ansbach||1683||1737||1705||George of Hanover||Gained title by accession of her father-in-law as King George I in 1714 and held it until her husband's accession as King George II in 1727.|
|Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha||1719||1772||1736||Frederick, Prince of Wales|
|Maria Walpole||1736||1807||1766||Prince William Henry, Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh|
|Anne Luttrell||1742||1808||1771||Prince Henry, Duke of Cumberland and Strathearn||Gained title by her second marriage.|
|Princess Frederica Charlotte of Prussia||1767||1820||1791||Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany|
|Duchess Caroline of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel||1768||1821||1795||George, Prince of Wales||Held title until her husband's accession as King George IV in 1820.|
|Duchess Frederica of Mecklenburg-Strelitz||1778||1841||1815||Prince Ernest Augustus, Duke of Cumberland and Teviotdale||Gained title by her third marriage. Became Queen of Hanover on her husband's accession as King Ernest Augustus in 1837.|
|Princess Augusta of Hesse-Kassel||1797||1889||1818||Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge|
|Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld||1786||1861||1818||Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn||Gained title by her second marriage.|
|Princess Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen||1792||1849||1818||Prince William, Duke of Clarence and St Andrews||Held title until her husband's accession as King William IV in 1830.|
|Princess Marie of Saxe-Altenburg||1818||1907||1843||George, Crown Prince of Hanover||Became Queen of Hanover on her husband's accession as King George V in 1851.|
|Princess Alexandra of Denmark||1844||1925||1863||Albert Edward, Prince of Wales||Held title until her husband's accession as King Edward VII in 1901.|
|Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia||1853||1920||1874||Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh||Held title until her husband's accession as Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in 1893.|
|Princess Thyra of Denmark||1853||1933||1878||Ernest Augustus, Crown Prince of Hanover||Husband lost British title of Prince in 1917.|
|Princess Louise Margaret of Prussia||1860||1917||1879||Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn|
|Princess Helena of Waldeck and Pyrmont||1861||1922||1882||Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany|
|Princess Mary of Teck||1867||1953||1893||Prince George, Duke of York||Held title until her husband's accession as King George V in 1910.|
|Princess Victoria Adelaide of Schleswig-Holstein||1885||1970||1905||Prince Charles Edward, Duke of Albany||Husband lost British title of prince in 1919.|
|Princess Viktoria Luise of Prussia||1892||1980||1913||Ernest Augustus, Duke of Brunswick||Husband lost British title of Prince in 1917. Princess Viktoria Luise was born Princess of Prussia being the only daughter of the German Emperor Wilhelm II.|
|Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon||1900||2002||1923||Prince Albert, Duke of York||Held title until her husband's accession as King George VI in 1936.|
|Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark||1906||1968||1934||Prince George, Duke of Kent||Princess of Greece and Denmark by birth. However, when she was widowed she reverted her title to Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent, styling herself as a princess suo jure in the UK.|
|Lady Alice Montagu Douglas Scott||1901||2004||1935||Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester||When she was widowed in 1974 she was granted special permission to style herself as a princess suo jure.|
|Katharine Worsley||1933||1961||Prince Edward, Duke of Kent|
|Birgitte van Deurs Henriksen||1946||1972||Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester|
|Baroness Marie-Christine von Reibnitz||1945||1978||Prince Michael of Kent||Gained title by her second marriage.|
|Lady Diana Spencer||1961||1997||1981||Charles, Prince of Wales||On marriage she became: Her Royal Highness The Princess of Wales. She lost style of Her Royal Highness upon divorce, and was restyled as "Diana, Princess of Wales".|
|Sarah Ferguson||1959||1986||Prince Andrew, Duke of York||On marriage she became: Her Royal Highness The Duchess of York. She lost style of Her Royal Highness upon divorce, and was restyled as "Sarah, Duchess of York".|
|Sophie Rhys-Jones||1965||1999||Prince Edward, Duke of Edinburgh||On marriage she became: Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex and Viscountess Severn. On 10 March 2019, the Queen granted the Earldom of Forfar to the Earl of Wessex for use in Scotland. On 10 March 2023, her husband become Duke of Edinburgh, Sophie is thus Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Edinburgh.|
|Camilla Shand||1947||2005||Charles, Prince of Wales||By her second marriage she became: Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall, Duchess of Rothesay, Countess of Chester etc. She also held the title of Princess of Wales but did not use it because the title became strongly associated with its previous holder, Diana. On 9 April 2021, she became Duchess of Edinburgh. She held the titles until her husband's accession as Charles III on 8 September 2022, when she became Her Majesty The Queen.|
|Catherine Middleton||1982||2011||William, Prince of Wales||On marriage she became: Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge, Countess of Strathearn, and Baroness Carrickfergus. On 8 September 2022, she became Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall and Cambridge. On 9 September 2022, she became Her Royal Highness The Princess of Wales.|
|Meghan Markle||1981||2018||Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex||On marriage she became: Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex, Countess of Dumbarton, and Baroness Kilkeel. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex no longer publicly use the style of Royal Highness after stepping back as senior members of the Royal Family.|
Each of the following women married a royal prince but as their marriages were invalid under the Royal Marriages Act 1772, they did not become princesses:
Although Wallis Simpson married the Duke of Windsor in 1937, and he was a British prince with the style His Royal Highness, having been confirmed as such by letters patent 27 May 1937 from his brother, George VI, Wallis and her descendants from the marriage were expressly denied the style of "Royal Highness" by the same letters patent before she married him. As a duke's wife, she was always styled Her Grace The Duchess of Windsor. Her husband, the Duke of Windsor, insisted that staff and friends should refer to her as Her Royal Highness.
There have been two instances where a British princess married a British prince: first The Princess Mary, daughter of George III, who married her first cousin Prince William Frederick, Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh; secondly Princess Alexandra, Duchess of Fife, granddaughter of Edward VII, who married her first cousin once removed Prince Arthur of Connaught. In the first instance Princess Mary was of higher rank and the Duke of Gloucester and his sister were elevated from the style His/Her Highness to His/Her Royal Highness. In the second instance Princess Alexandra had been granted the style Her Highness by her grandfather the King; as the wife of a Prince she received the style Her Royal Highness.
There is also the curious case of Princess Victoria Eugénie of Battenberg, later Queen Victoria Eugenia of Spain (the daughter of Princess Beatrice and Prince Henry of Battenberg). Prior to her marriage to Alfonso XIII of Spain in May 1906, she was styled Her Highness Princess Victoria Eugénie of Battenberg. On 3 April 1906 Edward VII, in order to elevate her standing prior to her wedding, raised her status to Royal Highness per royal declaration which read: "Whitehall April 3, 1906. The KING has been graciously pleased to declare and ordain that His Majesty's niece, Her Highness Princess Victoria Eugenie Julia Ena, daughter of Her Royal Highness the Princess Beatrice Mary Victoria Feodore (Princess Henry of Battenberg), shall henceforth be styled and called "Her Royal Highness"; And to command that the said Royal concession and declaration be registered in His Majesty's College of Arms." Edward VII concurrently issued a Royal Warrant on the elevation which read: "Our Will and Pleasure is and we do hereby declare and ordain that from and after the date of this Warrant our most Dear Niece Princess Victoria Eugénie Julia Ena, only daughter of Our most Dear Sister Beatrice Mary Victoria Feodore (Princess Henry of Battenberg) shall be styled entitled and called "Her Royal Highness" before her name and such Titles and Appellations which to her belong in all Deeds Records Instruments or Documents whatsoever wherein she may at any time hereafter be named or described. And We do hereby authorize and empower Our said most Dear Niece henceforth at all times to assume and use and to be called and named by the Style, Title and Appellation of "Her Royal Highness" accordingly. Given at Our Court of Saint James's, the Third day of April 1906: in the Sixth Year of Our Reign. By His Majesty's Command. M Gladstone" Whether this made her a British Royal Princess is the subject of debate.
The former Lady Diana Spencer lost the prefix of Her Royal Highness upon her divorce in August 1996, and was restyled as "Diana, Princess of Wales". Buckingham Palace issued a press release on the day the decree absolute of divorce was issued, announcing Diana's change of title, but made it clear that Diana continued to be a member of the British Royal Family. This was confirmed by the deputy coroner of the Queen's Household, Baroness Butler-Sloss, after a pre-hearing on 8 January 2007: "I am satisfied that at her death, Diana, Princess of Wales continued to be a member of the Royal Household." This appears to have been confirmed in the High Court judicial review matter of Al Fayed & Ors v Butler-Sloss. In that case, three High Court judges accepted submissions that the "very name 'Coroner to the Queen's Household' gave the appearance of partiality in the context of inquests into the deaths of two people, one of whom was a member of the Family and the other was not."
Of the above named princesses, there are a great number of shared names:
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When she married Prince Charles, "Camilla was not popular or well liked, [though] this has changed a lot since the marriage as Camilla has taken on a lot of patronages and Charles is a lot happier," [Marlene] Koenig says. "Still, [there was] a lot of tension and anger among a certain element of the population—so it was decided that Camilla would be styled as the Duchess of Cornwall, even though, of course, she is the Princess of Wales."
Miss Catherine Middleton became Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge, Countess of Strathearn and Lady Carrickfergus.
The Duchess is entitled to use the title Princess William of Wales, but has never described herself as such because the couple decided to be known as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge after the titles were conferred on them by the Queen on their wedding day.
Although she has never used the name, the Duchess is entitled to refer to herself as Princess William of Wales, as well as being Countess of Strathearn and Lady Carrickfergus.