Princess Names: Princesses by Marriage (Hi, Kate!)

Princess names are a subject of fascination for us, one we last covered by detailing all the names of the next generation of little princesses, from Aiko to Eleonore.

Now, in honor of the newest princess by marriage, Catherine of Wales, we look at the names of women who, like fairy tale Cinderellas, became princesses when they married princes. Most of those listed here are contemporary princess in Europe and Japan, though there are historical examples too.

The most common princess names are the classics: Mary, Louise, Victoria, Charlotte, Alexandra, Elizabeth, Caroline, Sophia and Sophie. But there are some more adventurous examples that might inspire: Augusta, Letizia, Tatiana.

And what of Princess Kate? Princess Catherine? For her moment in the spotlight, we declare hers the loveliest princess name of all.

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26 Responses to “Princess Names: Princesses by Marriage (Hi, Kate!)”

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catmcroy Says:

April 29th, 2011 at 1:08 am

as a Catherine with a “C”, I obviously love the name <3 Yay Kate for making it more popular!

Lauren Kay Says:

April 29th, 2011 at 3:18 am

I do prefer Catherine with a C. Shame that her title is Princess William of Wales (because she’s a commoner) unless the Queen grants her special permission to change it. Bit of an awkward name!

Stefanie Says:

April 29th, 2011 at 3:33 am

Am I the only one who thinks it is odd that she spells Catherine with a C, but goes by Kate with a K? I would not be happy to have a nickname that started with a different letter than my given name, unless the nickname was unrelated to by given name (i.e., Red or Tiny, rather than Catherine = Cate). There are plenty of exceptions to this, of course, with nns that are derivatives of the given name (Liz or Bess or Beth or Betty for Elizabeth, for example), but it still seems odd to me to convert the C to a K in this case.

Leslie Says:

April 29th, 2011 at 8:41 am

@Stefanie: I thought the same thing! If I had a Catherine with a ‘C’ and used the nn Catherine Middleton does, I would definitely spell it Cate. I did find it a bit odd that her nn started with a K instead of a C; however, I do know a Caitlin who often goes by Katie (yes, with a K!).

Kiki Says:

April 29th, 2011 at 8:47 am

I agree with Stefanie. Kate should come from Katherine and Cate from Catherine in my opinion.

Elea Says:

April 29th, 2011 at 9:08 am

She is now Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.

Stephanie – She actually prefers to be called Catherine. She gets called Kate but doesn’t sign her name with it so she has probably never actually “spelt” it herself. The media have heard “Kate” and spelt it the most common way.

It’s a bit like when I tell people I’m Elea they automatically spell it Ella.

SadieSadie Says:

April 29th, 2011 at 10:22 am

I like Catherine a lot but I really dislike Cathy with all of my heart and I fear that that is what it will be shortened to. I get that Cate hasn’t been an accepted spelling of Kate for too long but I think it looks way more professional and less cutesy child.
@Stefanie there are quite a few names that have nn that aren’t the same letter:
just off the top of my head.

Jenna H Says:

April 29th, 2011 at 11:00 am

Elea-loved your post yesterday! (that was you right? The Victorian names?) as a Brit, can you please explain the Princess Michael of Kent thing, and why she is not Princess Marie-Christine? And will the same rules apply to Catherine if she didn’t go by the HRH the Duchess of Cambridge?

Lucy Says:

April 29th, 2011 at 11:04 am

@ Jenna H

It follows the same principal as Mr and Mrs David Cameron etc. Most of the elderly people I know still follow this tradition, and the majority of the wedding invites were in this fashion (Mr and Mrs David Beckham)

It’s all down to personal preference, since some brides don’t take their husband’s surname.

Elea Says:

April 29th, 2011 at 11:53 am

Jenna H – Yes, that was me. Thank you!

Only daughters of a monarch or a daughter of a prince (son of a monarch) are styled “Princess [First Name]”

If a woman marries a prince (and is therefore not a princess by birth) she takes his name and title. So if he is Prince of Wales, she is Princess of Wales; if he is Prince Michael of Kent, she is Princess Michael of Kent; if he is Duke of Cambridge, she is Duchess of Cambridge…and so it goes on.

That is why Beatrice and Eugenie are “Princess” – as the daughters of Prince Andrew – but their mother, Sarah, was always Duchess and never Princess. Zara is the daughter of a Princess so she doesn’t get “Princess” either.

The queen can bestow the title of Princess if she wants to but royal wives tend to be promoted to Duchess except for the Princess of Wales.

Catherine will never be ‘Princess Catherine’ unless the queen bestows the name on her. She will, all being well, one day be HRH Catherine, Princess of Wales – and later – Queen Catherine.

Sara Says:

April 29th, 2011 at 12:01 pm

@Jenna – Princess Michael is as such because she is not a Princess in her own right by birth. Same for Catherine Middleton. There has been much made that she is a commoner married to royalty. If Marie-Christine would have been a born Princess, from any country, she would be titled Princess Marie-Christine of Kent. Prince Michael is a grand son of a King and has kept the Prince title, but it will not pass along to his children. Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, has chosen for his children not to be called Prince or Princess. Prince Andrew daughters will always be Princess Beatrice etc in their own right – unless they decide to drop the title. So if PB marries the Earl of Cadbury she would be Princess Beatrice, Countess of Cadbury – or whatever title she might or might not marry into.

Elea Says:

April 29th, 2011 at 12:03 pm

Also, if Harry ever marries his wife will automatically be “Princess Henry of Wales”. But most likely, like today, the queen would make him Duke of something very quickly to avoid that.

He would then be “Prince Harry, Duke of _____”, his wife would be “Duchess of ____” and their children would be ‘Prince’ and ‘Princess’ (unless they declined the title).

MargueriteJane Says:

April 29th, 2011 at 12:09 pm

Love this post! Adelaide and Eleonore are my fav princess names.
I couldn’t help but notice that princess Máxima of the Netherlands isn’t listed. She married Willem-Alexander, heir apparent to the Dutch throne in 2002.

Nora Says:

April 29th, 2011 at 1:48 pm

Brief question…
Why are all you americans so interested in William and Kate’s wedding? You fought a whole revolution to get away from us, and now you’re falling all over the whole royal wedding thing! Sorry, I’m seriously curious.

And I love Alice, Helena and Tatiana, they’re great names! Good list!

pam Says:

April 29th, 2011 at 2:51 pm

Thanks for all the insight, Elea. I feel like we had our own on-sight British name specialist, right up there with the fashion experts and lip readers the American TV networks featured! So….no Princess Catherine but someday Queen Catherine? That is confusing. But also illuminating to hear why Beatrice and Eugenie get to be princesses but Zara doesn’t…

Elea Says:

April 29th, 2011 at 3:10 pm

“Royal British Name Correspondent”….I like it!

It is confusing. The general rule is that only the children of a king/queen, or the children of a prince (who is himself the son of a king/queen) can be “Prince______” or “Princess_______”.

The queen’s grandchildren:

Peter and Zara Phillips
– children of Anne so not prince/princess.

Prince William of Wales & Prince Henry “Harry” of Wales

Princess Beatrice of York and Princess Eugenie of York

Lady Louise Windsor & James, Viscount Severns
– technically these two are entitled to be Prince and Princess as the children of Prince Edward but their parents have chosen for them not to have the title.

Of these, the only two whose children are entitled to eventually be “Prince” or “Princess” are William and Harry, as they are the only ones who will be sons of a monarch.

Leslie Owen Says:

April 29th, 2011 at 3:57 pm

Actually, while Catherine would be called Queen Catherine, she would actually be HRM Catherine, Queen Consort, and, if she has children and outlives William, HRM Catherine, The Queen Mother, as William’s grandmother was HRM Elizabeth, The Queen Mother. The Earl of Wessex’s children are currently styled as children of an earl, but Prince Edward has left room for them to be restyled as Prince and Princess when he becomes HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, after his grandfather, the current Duke, passes away.

Other princesses left out were Infanta Leonor of Spain, and the Princesses Amalie, Ariana, and Alexia of the Netherlands.

As for the whole Catherine/Katharine/Katherine thing, the nickname has always been spelled “Kate” in English (read Shakespeare). My daughter is Caitlin (pronounced “Catlin” in Welsh) and went by Kate/Katie for most of her childhood. Maybe because Catherine is the French spelling and Katherine the Anglicanised version? I don’t know. Until Cate Blanchett came along, I’d never seen anyone spell it any other way than Kate.

Anyway, HRH The Duchess of Cambridge will never be known as Princess Catherine, so the whole thing is moot. If they have children while William’s still the Duke, they will be Prince/Princess () of Cambridge until William becomes Prince of Wales himself. (See George V’s children’s titles — they went from York to Wales.)

Kate Says:

April 29th, 2011 at 5:27 pm

As others have said, Catherine is not Princess Catherine (or Catherine of Wales). She is HRH The Duchess of Cambridge. She would have been HRH Princess William of Wales had William not gotten another title.

@Leslie Owen – The Dutch princesses are Catharina-Amalia, Alexia, and Ariane. Catharina-Amalia is called Amalia.

pam Says:

April 29th, 2011 at 5:55 pm

We included the little Dutch princesses in our last blog on princess names, which focused on the young princesses of the Western World. Here’s the link:

Andrea Says:

April 29th, 2011 at 8:03 pm

From what I’ve read, no one who knows Catherine calls her anything but Catherine. She hates the nickname Kate, which was given to her by the tabloid press. I wonder if the royal family breathed a sigh of relief that she had such a royal sounding name. Harry’s girlfriend is called Chelsy. It’s a normal sounding name for that generation, but I think Princess Chelsy might sound a bit odd.

Beka Says:

April 30th, 2011 at 7:04 pm

Sorry, I just have to say that Camilla is NOT a princess. She is the Duchess of Cornwall.

@Nora: We’re so interested because it’s like a fairytale, and we don’t have anything comparable. It’s romantic; I mean, what girl doesn’t dream of becoming a princess? I would also like to point out that WE didn’t fight a revolution to separate from England; our ancestors did. It’s not like our countries are bitter enemies anymore.

Sunday Summary: 5/1/11 | Appellation Mountain Says:

May 1st, 2011 at 12:04 pm

[…] ’round the world, and the occasion inspired plenty of posts about royal baby names.  I liked Nameberry’s list of princesses by marriage, as well as Nancy’s question about the popularity of Pippa in the US.  Pippa appears on my […]

Angela Says:

May 3rd, 2011 at 5:54 pm

My guest is a girl born 2013 first child Princess Alexandra Carole Diana Windsor. Not so over the top as three middle names. Alexandra wife of King Edward VII and middle name of Queen Elizabeth II. Down side it is a very common princess name.

Second child born 2015 Prince Constantine Charles Michael Windsor. Common name on Prince Phillip’s side, there has been two King Constantine’s of Greece. The name and British history is a 6th century minor king and Constantine II a roman general declared himself western roman emperor in Britannia in 407. Just to name a few.

Third child born 2018 Princess Marina Catherine Philippa Windsor. Marina is to tie in Prince Phillips royal connections on the Greek/Danish side. Princess Marina of Greece was married to Prince George, Duke of Kent. She was much loved by the people something the current royal would like and need.

Other possiblities for girls – Margarita, Beatrice, Louise, Alexia, Maria-Olympia, Olga, Cecilie, Helen and Irene.

Kate Says:

May 5th, 2011 at 2:18 am

@Beka – Camilla IS a princess! Her full style and title is “Her Royal Highness The Princess Charles Philip Arthur George, Princess of Wales and Countess of Chester, Duchess of Cornwall, Duchess of Rothesay, Countess of Carrick, Lady Renfrew, Lady of the Isles, Princess of Scotland”

elizam9983 Says:

August 5th, 2012 at 10:18 am

I like the name Theodora, she is a princess by marriage and is Victorian name. She was very impressive back in the day.

ScarlettSensibility Says:

April 25th, 2013 at 4:48 pm

@elizam9983 – Theodora is also a current Greek princess by birth (although deposed family) and aspiring actress

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