Shaun Jeffers/ShutterstockThe royal family may not have a last name, but the many complicated titles they have definitely make up for it. Prince Charles’ full royal title, for instance, is “His Royal Highness The Prince Charles Philip Arthur George, Prince of Wales, KG, KT, GCB, OM, AK, QSO, PC, ADC, Earl of Chester, Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Baron of Renfrew, Lord of the Isles and Prince and Great Steward of Scotland.” Talk about a mouthful.
As if that weren’t enough, when some royals travel to other countries, they go by different titles than what we’re used to seeing. When Prince William and Kate Middleton got married in 2011, they joined those ranks. To the people of Scotland, William and Kate are not the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. They are the Earl and Countess of Strathearn.
Why does the couple have different titles in England’s northern neighbor? It’s because England and Scotland were completely separate countries until 1707, when the Acts of Union created the United Kingdom. (This is the difference between the U.K. and Great Britain, by the way.) Scotland uses a completely unique set of royal titles. Strathearn is a region in central Scotland, and the term itself refers to the valley of the Scottish River Earn. The title dates all the way back to the 1100s and is still in use today. In fact, when Alex Salmond, the former first minister of Scotland, learned that Kate Middleton was pregnant with Princess Charlotte, he tweeted his congratulations to “the Earl & Countess of Strathearn.” By the way, here’s why Princess Charlotte’s future children won’t have royal titles.
Congratulations & best wishes to the Earl & Countess of Strathearn. Wonderful to hear they're expecting their second baby – very happy news!
— Alex Salmond (@AlexSalmond) September 8, 2014
Regional titles are unique to senior married members of the royal family, which means that Prince Charles also uses a different title in Scotland—the Duke of Rothesay. This title was held by the heir to the Scottish throne before Scotland’s royal family merged with England’s in the seventeenth century. Even after the merge, the distinct Scottish titles remained.