- Prince Charles’ title has 18 separate elements, and takes up three lines of text.
- It is a mixture of honours, titles, and ceremonial roles.
- Scroll down for an explanation of each individual part, and its history.
British royalty have a lot going on in their full titles – as well as having more given names than normal people, there is also a flurry of dukedoms, honours, and awards to deal with as well.
Of the senior tranche of royals, the most extravagant moniker belongs to Prince Charles, Queen Elizabeth’s oldest son. As the heir to the British throne, Charles has a lot of noble titles by default, and has also been awarded successive extras over the years.
His full title is more than three full lines long:
His Royal Highness 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.
The order above is the full version as presented by Clarence House, Charles’ private office. Here, Business Insider breaks down each element and explains what it means:
His Royal Highness (HRH)
This is the style given to senior royals, and is one rung belong “His/Her Majesty”, which is reserved for kings and queens. Prince William, Kate Middleton, their children, and Prince Harry also have HRH status.
This one’s easy, and is because he is the son of the monarch. His children, and their children, are also princes or princesses. People they later marry, like Kate Middleton or Meghan Markle, do not become princesses.
Charles Philip Arthur George
Royals don’t have surnames like regular people, but do have a lot of given names. They tend to be drawn from a relatively narrow pool: There have been two King Charleses and six King Georges. Philip is the name of Charles’ father, while Arthur has been associated with British royalty since the days of legend.
Due to a quirk of royal protocol, when Queen Elizabeth, dies Charles will have the opportunity to take any of his four names as his official “regnal name,” and could from then be known as King Philip, King Arthur, or King George.
Prince of Wales
This title belongs to whoever is first in line to the throne. It dates back to 1300s, just after Wales was conquered by the English and ceased to be a separate kingdom. Charles is the 21st English Prince of Wales.
KG, KT, GCB, OM, AK, QSO
These abbreviations all represent knightly orders of which Charles is a member, they are:
Knight of the Garter (KG): The most senior chivalrous order, led by the monarch. Foreign royals including the King of Spain, the Grand Duke of Luxembourg, and the Emperor of Japan are also members.
Here’s a photo of Charles, the Queen, and Prince William in full Knights of the Garter get-up:
Knight of the Thistle (KT): Scottish equivalent of the Garter.
Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (GCB):The top rank in the Order of the Bath, which is occupied by nobles and figures from public life such as the civil service and military.
Order of Merit (OM): A 20th-century order peopled by figures from the arts and sciences. Members include Sir David Attenborough and Time Berners-Lee.
Knight of the Order of Australia (AK): An order based in Australia.
Companion of the Queen’s Service Order (QSO): An order based in New Zealand.
Privy Counsellor (PC)
This is a group of figures who together make the “Privy Council,” a large body of people meant to advise the monarch. The Prince is automatically one, along with the Prime Minister, all members of her Cabinet, opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, and many other legal and religious figures.
Aides-de-Camp are a small body of personal advisers to the monarch, mostly military figures. In ceremonial uniform, they wear a decorative rope ornament called an aiguillette to mark their status.
Earl of Chester
This is an ancient noble rank linked to the city of Chester, near England’s border with Wales.
William I created the title to give to somebody to guard against attack from the Welsh. Since the 1300s it has always belonged to the Prince of Wales.
Duke of Cornwall
This title, the oldest dukedom in England, has automatically belonged to the heir to the throne since 1337. When in Southwest England, Charles is sometimes referred to by this title first.
Unlike the other titles, it comes with a large economic benefit: As duke, Charles owns some 150,000 acres, mainly in southwest England. Its 2017 accounts say the Duchy has assets totalling more than £913 million, and makes him £20 million a year.
Duke of Rothesay
This Scottish title is another longstanding possession of the heir to the throne. Before 1603, when the crowns of England and Scotland were joined, the Duke of Rothesay was the title given to the heir to Scotland’s throne – post-1603, one heir has held them both.
When in Scotland, Charles is frequently referred to as the Duke of Rothesay, like in the newspaper headline in the Scottish edition of The Times newspaper.
Prince William and Kate Middleton also have separate Scottish titles, as Business Insider explained last week.
Earl of Carrick and Baron of Renfrew
These are two separate Scottish titles, which also go to the heir to the throne. Carrick and Renfrew both refer to southerly areas of Scotland. Before the crowns merged, the earldom of Carrick was associated with Robert the Bruce, a Scottish king who fought a war of independence against England.
Lord of The Isles
This title refers to the islands to the west of Scotland, which remained functionally independent from the mainland until around 1500. Parts of the territory still speak an entirely separate language, Scots Gaelic.
One of the islands, Lewis, is notable for being the original home of Gaelic speaker Mary Anne MacLeod, the mother of US President Donald Trump.
The lordship of the isles was given to the Scottish heir to the throne, and then later to the English, and therefore now belongs to Charles.
Prince and Great Steward of Scotland
Charles’s last titles are also Scottish, and date from the medieval period. “Prince of Scotland” used to refer to a smaller area than the Scotland of today. The Great Steward used to be a separate noble title, but has belonged to the heir to the Scottish throne since 1371. It comes last in the official order of precedence.
When Charles takes the throne, Prince William is likely to inherit almost all of the titles listed above, though he may not get them all immediately.