Definitions

royal highnesses

Royal and noble styles

Styles represent the fashion by which monarchs and noblemen are properly addressed. Throughout history, many different styles were used, with little standardization. This page will detail the various styles used by royalty and nobility in Europe, in the final form arrived at in the nineteenth century.

Imperial, royal, and princely styles

Only those classified within the social class of royalty and upper nobility have a style of "Highness" attached before their title. Reigning bearers of forms of Highness included grand princes, grand dukes, sovereign princes, reigning dukes and princely counts, their families and the agnatic descendants of emperors and kings. Royals (usually emperors to princely counts) are all considered "princes" (Fürsten).

Emperors and Empresses enjoyed the style of His/Her Imperial Majesty (HIM).

Members of imperial families were generally styled His/Her Imperial Highness (HIH).

  • In Austria, the members of the Imperial family, due to their status as also members of the royal family of the Apostolic kingdom of Hungary, held the style of Imperial and Royal Highness (HI&RH), but actually traditionally the other way around: "königliche und kaiserliche Hoheit".
  • Also in the German Empire, the other 'heir' to the Holy Roman empire, the emperor and empress, would be addressed as Imperial and Royal Majesty because of their ruling over the Kingdom of Prussia and the German Empire.
  • In Russia, children and male-line grandchildren of the Emperor had the style of Imperial Highness (HIH). Male-line great-grandchildren held the style of Highness (HH). Also, the eldest son of any person who held the style of Highness also held the style of Highness. All other male-line descendants held the style Serenity, often translated as Serene Highness (HSH). Some Russian noble princes also hold the style of Serenity; all others and Russian princely counts hold the style of Illustriousness, often translated as Illustrious Highness (HIllH).

Kings and queens have the style of Majesty (HM). Some, throughout history have also used Royal Majesty (HRM)

Members of royal families (princes and princesses) generally have the style of Royal Highness (HRH), although in some royal families (for instance, Denmark), more junior princes and princesses only bear the style of His or Her Highness (HH).

Reigning grand dukes and grand duchesses hold the style of Royal Highness (HRH).

The styles of members of grand ducal families have been inconsistent. In Luxembourg, more senior members of the family have also been Royal Highnesses, but only due to their status as Bourbon princes of Parma (itself an inconsistency as Parma was only ducal, but this family has male-line descent from kings of Etruria, Spain and France). In Baden and Hesse and by Rhine, junior members held the style of Grand Ducal Highness (HGDH). Members of other grand ducal families generally held the style of Highness (HH).

Reigning dukes and duchesses bore the style of Highness (HH), as did other members of ducal families. Junior members of some ducal families bore the style of Ducal Serene Highness (HDSH), although it fell out of fashion.

The Elector of Hesse-Kassel (or Hesse-Cassel) also bore the style of Highness, as did other members of the Hesse-Kassel family.

Mediatized dukes and reigning and mediatized princes (Fürsten) bear the style of Serene Highness (HSH, Durchlaucht), as do other members of princely families. Members of reigning princely families are also styled Serene Highness (HSH).

Mediatized princely counts and countesses bear the style of Illustrious Highness (HIllH, German Erlaucht).

Noble styles in the United Kingdom

  • The monarch of the United Kingdom has a much longer style than that of other members of the British royal family and nobility. For example, the full style of Elizabeth II in the United Kingdom is, "Elizabeth the Second, 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".
  • Dukes and duchesses in the peerages of England, Scotland, Great Britain, Ireland, and the United Kingdom as well as nobility bearing the title of "Prince" (who are not royalty of highness) bear the style of Grace, eg. "His Grace", "Your Grace". They also hold the style of Most High, Potent, and Noble Prince, but even in the most formal situations that is usually simply abbreviated to Most Noble, and even that style is quite archaic and very formal.
  • Marquesses and marchionesses bear the styles of The Most Honourable and Lordship (e.g. "His Lordship," "Her Ladyship," "Your Lordship," and "Your Ladyship.") They also hold the style of Most Noble and Puissant Prince, but even in the most formal situations this style is rarely used.
  • Earls, countesses, viscounts, viscountesses, barons, and baronesses bear the styles of The Right Honourable and Lordship.
  • Scottish feudal Barons bear the style The Much Honoured.

For more details, see Forms of Address in the United Kingdom

Noble styles in Germany

The nobility and all related styles were abolished with the Weimar Constitution of 1919, but are used socially.

Non-mediatized noble dukes (Herzöge) in Germany bear the style of High Born (Hochgeboren).

Non-mediatized noble princes (Fürsten) in Germany bear the styles of Princely Grace (fürstliche Gnaden), or High Born.

Other non-mediatized German nobles of the rank of count or higher bear the style of High Born.

German nobles below the rank of count bear the style of High Well Born (Hochwohlgeboren). Another style is Well Born (Wohlgeborn) which ranks below High Well Born.

Sources and references

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