Styles represent the fashion by which monarchs and noblemen are properly addressed. Throughout history, many different styles were used, with little standardization. This page will detail the various styles used by royalty and nobility in Europe, in the final form arrived at in the nineteenth century.
Imperial, royal, and princely styles
Only those classified within the social class of royalty and upper nobility have a style of "Highness" attached before their titles. Reigning bearers of forms of Highness included grand princes, grand dukes, reigning princes, reigning dukes, and princely counts, their families, and the agnatic (of the male bloodline) descendants of emperors and kings. Royalty (usually emperors to princely counts) are all considered sovereign princes (German: Fürsten).
- Emperors and empresses held the style of Imperial Majesty (HIM).
- Members of imperial families generally hold the style of Imperial Highness (HIH).
- In the Austrian Empire, the Emperor was also the King of Hungary, and thus bore the style of Imperial and Royal Majesty. Subsequently, members of the imperial family, who were also members of the royal family of Hungary, held the style of Imperial and Royal Highness (HI&RH). Abbreviation to Imperial Highness is common and accepted.
- In the German Empire, the other "heir" to the Holy Roman Empire, the emperor and empress were also addressed as Imperial and Royal Majesty, as they ruled over both the German Empire and Kingdom of Prussia. Similarly, the crown prince of the Empire and Prussia was styled Imperial and Royal Highness. Other members of the House of Prussia, having no constitutional place in the Empire as such, were only entitled to the style of Royal Highness.
- In Imperial Russia, children and male-line grandchildren of the Emperor bore the style of Imperial Highness. Male-line great-grandchildren held the style of Highness; also, the eldest son of any person who held the style of Highness also held the style of Highness. All other male-line descendants held the style of Serenity, often translated as "Serene Highness". Some Russian noble princes also hold the style of Serenity; all others and Russian princely counts hold the style of Illustriousness, often translated as "Illustrious Highness".
- Kings and queens have the style of His/Her Majesty.
- Members of royal families (princes and princesses) generally have the style of Royal Highness, although in some royal families (for instance, Denmark and Norway), more junior princes and princesses bear the style of Highness.
- Reigning grand dukes and grand duchesses hold the style of Royal Highness.
- The styles of members of grand ducal families have been inconsistent. In Luxembourg, more senior members of the family have also been Royal Highnesses, but only due to their status as Princes of Bourbon-Parma (itself an inconsistency as Parma was only ducal, but this family has male-line descent from kings of Etruria, Spain and France). In Baden and Hesse and by Rhine, junior members held the style of Grand Ducal Highness. Members of other grand ducal families (for instance, Oldenburg) generally held the style of Highness.
- Reigning dukes and duchesses bore the style of Highness, as did other members of ducal families. Junior members of some ducal families bore the style of Ducal Serene Highness, although it fell out of fashion.
- The elector of Hesse-Kassel also bore the style of Highness, as did other members of the Hesse-Kassel family.
- Reigning princes bear the style of Serene Highness (German: Durchlaucht, French: Son Altesse Sérénissime), as do other members of princely families. Mediatized dukes and princes also bear the style of Serene Highness.
- Mediatized princely counts and countesses bear the style of Illustrious Highness (HIllH, German: Erlaucht).
In addition to their national royal styles, many monarchs had "treaty styles" to distinguish one monarch from another in international settings. For example, the sovereign of the United Kingdom was customarily referred to as "Britannic Majesty", of France as "Most Christian Majesty", of Spain as "Catholic Majesty", of Hungary as "Apostolic Majesty", of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation as "August Majesty", etc. Monarchs also typically had a longer style than other princely members within the same royal house. For example, the monarch of the United Kingdom has a much longer style than that of other members of the British royal family. The full style of Elizabeth II in the United Kingdom was, "Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith".