Heres why you called the Queen Your Royal Majesty, but not Your Royal Highness

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The Difference Between ‘Royal Majesty’ and ‘Royal Highness’

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Queen on Commonwealth Day
Mark Cuthbert/ UK Press/ Getty Images
  • Before her death on Thursday, the Queen’s official title changed many times since she was born Her Royal Highness Princess Elizabeth of York in 1926.
  • She was a princess, a duchess, and of course, Her Majesty the Queen. 
  • Still, during her lifetime, many people got her official title completely wrong.

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Queen Elizabeth II was Britain’s longest-running monarch, capping off a seven-decade rule with her death on Thursday at the age of 96.

Yet, during her lifetime, so many people got her official title wrong.

You may have felt inclined to refer to the Queen as Her Royal Highness, but this was, in fact, incorrect.

The Queen’s full name was Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor. According to Harper’s Bazaar, her full title read: “Elizabeth II, 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.” 

Queen Elizabeth II at Berlin
Sean Gallup/ Getty Images

However, the Royal Family’s official website simply referred to her as Her Majesty the Queen.

Palace guidelines state that when greeting the Queen, you referred to her as “Your Majesty” or “Ma’am” — but not “Your Royal Highness.”

“Your Royal Highness” was actually used to address any other member of the Royal Family, apart from the Queen herself.

Read More: Here’s why some princesses are called duchesses in the British royal family

Female members of the family are typically referred to as “Your Highness” or “Ma’am.” Similarly, male members of the Royal Family are to be referred to as “Your Royal Highness” or “Sir.”

Like any other member of the Royal Family, the Queen’s title changed over the years. She was known as Her Royal Highness Princess Elizabeth of York until her father, George VI, became king in 1936 (at which point he started being called “Your Majesty.”)

Since her father was no longer the Duke of York, that meant that York was dropped from Elizabeth’s title as well.

When she married Prince Philip, he became the Duke of Edinburgh. This meant Elizabeth’s title was changed to Her Royal Highness The Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh.

This was her last title before she became Her Majesty The Queen in 1952. 

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