Is Kate Middleton a Princess? Prince Louis’s Birth Certificate Has Us Questioning Her Status

In case you have any reason to doubt our investment in royal knowledge, don't. We’ve happily corrected many a friend who’ve slipped and referred to Kate Middleton as Princess Kate, er, Catherine, in our presence. (Come on, she’s a duchess—get it right!) But recently, a quick peek at Prince Louis’s birth certificate gave us reason to pause. There, explicitly stated in the fine print, is Kate Middleton’s official occupation: Princess of the United Kingdom. Wait, what?!

Yep, the royal paperwork has us questioning everything. Is Kate Middleton a princess and a duchess? Let's examine both sides of the debate.

kate middleton anzac day fascinator
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1. Making The Case For “yes”

Look closely at Prince Louis’s birth certificate and you’ll see it: Kate Middleton’s occupation is listed as Princess of the United Kingdom. Prince William’s job status? It’s the same—Prince of the United Kingdom. The titles go hand in hand. Does that mean the Duchess of Cambridge has a dual title? Sort of. Officially, she’s the Duchess of Cambridge, a title tied to a British territory and one bestowed by the queen. But, as a woman married to a prince, she also has the right to use a variation on her husband’s title if and when she pleases.

Still a bit murky? Here’s more detail on the idea. While the “princess” status is typically only given to daughters born into the royal family (we’re talking to you, Princess Charlotte and Princess Beatrice), marrying into the family creates a gray area. In other words, while Kate is officially a duchess (just check the field marked “name and surname” on Prince Louis’s birth certificate where her moniker reads “Catherine Elizabeth Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge”), she has the status of a princess via Prince William’s official role as prince.

In fact, back in 1923, a royal precedent was set when Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (ahem, the Queen Mother) became her Royal Highness the Duchess of York, according to a biography called The Queen Mother by William Shawcross and The New York Times. At the time, a statement was made by King George V’s private secretary Lord Stamfordham that said, “In accordance with the settled general rule that a wife takes the status of her husband, Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon on her marriage has become Her Royal Highness the Duchess of York with the status of a Princess.” So this all means Kate is a princess? Not so fast...

kate middleton and prince william wedding
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2. Making The Case For “no”

Let’s dig a little deeper: While Kate occupies both the position of duchess and princess according to Prince Louis’s birth certificate, keep in mind that every wife of a prince is considered a Princess of the United Kingdom, according to the founder of the blog Royal Musings via an interview on Harper’s Bazaar. Meghan Markle is also a Princess of the United Kingdom. (Or was, depending on how everything shakes out with this whole Canada move.)

This isn’t meant to impugn Kate’s status, but rather to explain that the princess part of her title might just be largely ceremonial, and not quite as formal as William’s title. In this sense, she's only a princess because William is a prince, whereas she's a duchess because she's been awarded the title. This leads some to argue that Kate isn't a real princess.

3. Princess Or Duchess: Our Final Take

Back to our original question: Is Kate Middleton a princess? In our opinion, after weighing both sides, yes. Does that mean you can refer to her as Princess Kate and be accurate? Technically, since she goes by both the Duchess of Cambridge and Princess of the United Kingdom, you’d be correct.

Still, when in doubt, you can defer to Instagram. (On their official account @kensingtonroyal, Kate and William go by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.)

But you can also take your cue from the manner in which the public refers to Kate as a princess—and her acceptance of this label. Just this week, the mother of a little girl in South Wales mentioned her daughter’s delight at meeting Kate, "a real princess." Kate’s reply? “I’m sorry I’m not wearing a pretty dress today,” she said. Sounds like she was agreeing with the woman calling her princess.

We rest our case.

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Rachel Bowie

Royal family expert, a cappella alum, mom

Rachel Bowie is Senior Director of Special Projects & Royals at PureWow, where she covers parenting, fashion, wellness and money in addition to overseeing initiatives within...
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