- Rachel Burchfield
Delete these two words from your Royal vocabulary immediately
Updated: Jun 4, 2019
Okay, friends. If you are going to be a Royal Watcher – and I hope you are, because Royal Watchers are the coolest – you absolutely must delete two words from your vocabulary.
Are you ready? Because it’s going to be a hard pill for some of you (especially if you are the American media) to swallow.
The two words you must immediately banish from your vocabulary are: Middleton and Markle.
Those two words have absolutely no place being used anymore by anyone unless they are talking about the Duchess of Cambridge pre-April 29, 2011 or the Duchess of Sussex pre-May 19, 2018.
Am I making myself clear?
Sorry. This is my absolute pet peeve of life. (Well, at least of Royal Watcher life.) If you are a married woman, how would you feel about everyone constantly referring to you by your maiden name, even eight years in Kate’s case after she left the Middleton name behind? Now, look, I get it – it’s weird to not have a last name. But, for some reason, unless the title Prince, Princess, or Queen is before a Royal’s name, we have a problem letting go of the last name. You’ve never called a blood Royal by their last name, have you? Shoot, I bet most people don’t even know William and Harry’s last names, which I’ve heard in different instances be Mountbatten-Windsor, Wales, and Cambridge or Sussex, respectively. Yet no one is obsessed with giving them a last name. Did anyone call Diana Diana Spencer after July 29, 1981? No! Was it because the public was satisfied with Princess Diana as a name but wouldn’t have been satisfied with, say, Duchess Diana like no one seems to be satisfied with Duchess Catherine or Duchess Meghan? (Sometimes I even hear people still call Camilla Camilla Parker Bowles. Please. Stop.) It is okay if they don’t have a last name. They are Royalty. It happens.
All I know is this, for some reason, drives me batty. Obviously. Whew, Rachel. Breathe.
I can remember in the summer of 2017, I was packing to move and had so much to do before my move date, and all I would do was sit around and troll Vogue’s Facebook because William and Kate were on some official tour somewhere and they were posting daily updates about her fashion and would not stop calling her Kate Middleton. It was probably a symptom of the fact that at that time my life was totally in flux and I was upside down in the wrong relationship (I just hadn’t fully accepted it yet), but I went off on Vogue. Like, I really showed my ass. After a little bit of therapy (which I highly recommend to everyone!) I can see now that my anger towards the fashion bible was really misdirected anger towards someone else, but still, man, give me a break. Her name isn’t Kate Middleton.
Okay, now that I’ve beaten that horse half to death, what can you call these two lovely ladies? Duchess Catherine/Kate (Catherine in more formal settings, Kate in more casual settings) and Duchess Meghan will do just fine. They are not princesses, so they should not be referred to as such. That’s why this blog is The Duchess Commentary, not The Princess Commentary. When the Queen dies and Charles ascends to the throne and William and Kate become Prince and Princess of Wales, Kate is then Catherine/Kate, Princess of Wales. But Meghan will never, ever be a princess, ever, so she will forever be Duchess Meghan.
Here’s an interesting twist, though. If you absolutely insist on calling these ladies princess, the only way that works is if you call them Princess William and Princess Harry. Because their husbands are blood princes, if you attach their name to it, they can be referred to as princess by marriage, symbolizing that they are the wife of a blood prince. (For an example, think of Princess Michael of Kent, who is married to Prince Michael of Kent and prefers to be called by the female equivalent of her husband’s title.) I don’t like this practice, though, because it erases Kate and Meghan’s names – and, therefore, I think, their identities as women – altogether, and makes it seem like they are only relevant because of their husbands’ titles as prince. That’s like, if I married John Smith, me being referred to not as Rachel Smith but, rather, Mrs. John Smith. Not a fan of that, unless it’s on a formal wedding invitation or placecard at a wedding reception or something. But in my daily life, there’s no need to call me that. So why don’t we just all get along and call them Duchess Kate and Duchess Meghan? Okay? Great. Glad that we’ve come to an understanding here.
(Fun fact that will blow your mind: Technically, we never should have called Diana Princess Diana. Her title was Diana, Princess of Wales, but technically “Princess” should never have moved in front of her name unless she was being referred to as Princess Charles because she was not the child of a monarch nor the child of a son of the monarch. I’m willing to get over this just as long as no one called her Diana Spencer, which no one ever did.)
So, to repeat:
Kate was born Catherine Elizabeth Middleton. Her nickname throughout life was and is Kate. On April 29, 2011, upon her marriage to Prince William, she became Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, or Duchess Catherine. (I’ve heard she prefers to go by Catherine now; I’m more lax about calling her Kate. That doesn’t bother me like using the M word does.) When in Scotland, she is also referred to as the Countess of Strathearn, and when she is in Northern Ireland, she is Lady Carrickfergus, which I’m now going to demand all of you call me. Best title ever? Yep. Anyway.
Meghan was born Rachel Meghan Markle, making me love her even more. (My name is Rachel just in case we don’t, you know, actually know each other and to you I’m just some nameless lady with factoids about the Royal Family writing a cool blog.) On May 19, 2018, upon her marriage to Prince Harry, she became Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, or Duchess Meghan. Did you know Meghan is actually the first woman ever to hold the title of Duchess of Sussex? (Kate is the third to be Duchess of Cambridge, but there hasn’t been one since the last one died in 1889.) When in Scotland, she is the Countess of Dumbarton and when in Northern Ireland she is Baroness Kilkeel, which sounds like a movie character’s name. God, I love the Royal Family.
I know I got a little sassy there, but this issue really chaps my lips. On a much happier note, a big thank you to theSkimm for featuring The Duchess Commentary today. I love how theSkimm celebrates women, and I can’t wait to meet cofounders Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin on June 13 when their book tour for How to Skimm Your Life stops in Nashville.
I’ll be off the grid until Tuesday – happy Memorial Day weekend! – but on Monday night if you’re in the mood for a what I’m sure will be cringeworthy Lifetime movie, Harry & Meghan: Becoming Royal will premiere at 8/7c that night. I’ll be coming back from out of town so I might not catch the original viewing, but I’ll find a way to watch it somehow and report back.