WPA Pool/Getty Images
WPA Pool/Getty Images
So, what's in a name? Well, if you're a member of the royal family and the names we're talking about are bestowing upon you a title of nobility, a hell of a lot.
Which is why royal watchers are getting themselves into quite a tizzy pontificating on what Prince William may become once he ties the knot with Kate Middleton this month, paving the way for a more mature and austere title.
But how much more austere can you get than "Prince"? Glad you asked—turns out, a duke is the highest ranking in British peerage, and word on the cobblestoned streets is that William will choose to become the Duke of Sussex shortly after he puts a ring on it.
But is it true? Unsheath those cutlasses, because this rumor is…
So…well, pretty likely, actually. But for now, according to the official line from Clarence House, so false!
Titles, they say, are a gift from the queen and to be bestowed by her alone—not something that's chosen by the titleholder. They also added that no decisions had yet been made as to titles, and that no announcements on the subject would be made until the wedding day.
They also noted that it's entirely possible Prince William could remain Prince William and not be elevated to a duke.
Of course, the corollary to that is that it's just as possible that he could.
As it turns out, several dukedoms are up for grabs, as it were, and in addition to the Duke of Sussex—a title that hasn't been used since 1843, FWIW—the Duke of Cambridge, Duke of Clarence and Duke of Connaught are also available.
Should he make the jump, he wouldn't be alone. Nor would he be unable to still go by the name Prince William. As it happens, his father, Prince Charles, is also the Duke of Cornwall, while his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, is also a duke.
HM the Queen also just so happens to be the Duke of Lancaster, a title that is bestowed regardless of gender (unlike other duchesses) and also is the position that provides the monarch with an income.
Regardless, royal wedding days are typically when new titles are bestowed on the new bride and groom, and it's often more than one that's bequeathed. Prince Andrew became the Duke of York, Earl of Inverness and Baron Killyleagh on his big day, while Prince Edward got bumped up to both the Earl of Wessex and Viscount Severn when he tied the knot.
However, if he wanted to downplay his role, Wills could request that he remain HRH Prince William of Wales instead. And as for Kate? Despite what decades of Disney movies have taught us, she cannot become a princess in her own right. Which means we'll never see the title Princess Catherine of Wales. So what will become of her?
If princess is the title she is given, per royal current protocol, she will have to adopt her husband's name and will formally be deemed HRH Princess William of Wales. However, royal protocol has been changing slightly with the times, and, should the queen approve, Kate could become Princess Catherine after all.
It's what Mickey would have wanted.