Monday, June 20, 2011

Royal Gossip Mondays. On The Duke of Cambridge, what to call Kate, and the royal life.

You all know by now that Prince William and his wife have been made Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. So Kate is not officially Princess Kate and I realize that I must turn to my trusty book to look up forms of address in case I meet her. One addresses a duke and duchess as "Your grace." However not a royal duke. He is "Your royal highness," and thereafter "sir."

Kate is not a princess so I"m not sure whether she is an HRH (Her Royal Highness) officially. I'll need to check on that. Does one call her "Your grace?"  One must be correct about these things. Too many historical novels have been hurled across the room by me because someone calls a king "Your highness."  (He's Your Majesty) or gets the whole thing wrong with Lady Jane Phipps, Jane, Lady Phipps and Lady Phipps.   (It is the difference between the wife of a peer, a baronet and a knight)

I have a book with a wonderful table of precedence--who goes into dinner before whom, who sits where at the dinner table--is a bishop above a duke? Tricky question. Bishops rank equally with normal dukes, but below royal dukes. It's amusing for people outside England to read this but I suspect it still matters to those people who are giving dinner parties for dukes and bishops. And of course in the time I was writing about, the early 1930s, it mattered an awful lot. This is still the time of the great houses, oodles of servants, idle young men like Bertie Wooster, hunts, croquet parties, tea on the lawn and that enviable lifestyle of the aristocrats.

Or was it so enviable? My granddaughter and I were watching Pride and Prejudice for the zillionth time this weekend and she commented how everybody played the piano. I pointed out that girls were not educated, apart from playing the piano, speaking French, sketching and embroidery.
"How boring," she commented and she was right. Their lives were mainly ones of boredom, of filling in hours until the next meal and hoping that someone would come to visit and someone would eventually marry them. Preferable to the lives of those who worked in the dark satanic mills but not enviable to most of us.

Of course the current Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are not living this kind of life at the moment. They are in a four bedroom house without servants in one of the more desolate parts of Britain. Okay, I know as a Welsh person I should be extolling the beauties of Anglesey, and it is very lovely, but it can be extremely wet and windy too. I remember countless summer holidays when it was too wet to go out and we were forced to take walks anyway.  So Kate is facing a few gales, shopping at the supermarket, cooking their meals and I expect she's loving it.

I don't know how I wound up here when I started with the Duke of Cambridge and I was going to share some snippets of delicious gossip about another Duke of Cambridge. But that will have to wait for next Monday now.


  1. I think the easiest thing to call them is Kate and William. The other stuff is mere royal frippery. They can call me Eric when we meet.
    I've heard though that William's grandma does not like to be called Lizzie Battenberg. So Queenie must do. And give them all hugs; they like that!

  2. (Laughing at Eric's comment)

    To paraphrase Maurice Chevalier in Gigi:
    Oh am so glad/ that we won/
    That Revolutionary War!

    I'm fairly confident we couldn't call them "Hey you," or "Dude and Dudette." And hmm, I didn't realize she wasn't made a princess by marrying William.

  3. Kate is not a princess but she seems to be one, lol,
    Thanks for your insight for this method great story; this is the kind of feature that continues me though out the day...