Questions on Titles

I would like to write a letter of thanks for a gift to HRH The Prince of Wales. How should the letter be addressed, and how should the letter be started and ended? 

A letter written directly to HRH The Prince of Wales (as opposed to his private secretary) would begin, 'Sir'. The letter would close: 'I have the honour to remain [comma, new line] Sir [comma, new line], Your Royal Highness's most humble and obedient servant'. The envelope should be addressed to His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales.

When writing about the visit of a royal prince, should we say:?? "HRH Prince Philip was very impressed with .."

If you are referring to HRH The Duke of Edinburgh I think the first time you refer to him you should say 'His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh', but any subsequent reference could be reduced to 'Prince Philip'.

How do I address a Duchess at the start of a letter? 

Dear Duchess (as long as she is not a royal duchess, ie the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duchess of Gloucester or the Duchess of Kent).

If I was to welcome the Duke of Gloucester, how would I welcome him? 

The first time you speak to HRH The Duke of Gloucester you should address him as 'Your Royal Highness'. Subsequently you should address him as 'Sir'.

My question is how would you address HRH the Duke of Kent when singing him happy birthday? 

What an original question!  I don't really know what to suggest. How well to you know HRH? Before he inherited the title of Duke of Kent he was known as Prince Edward of Kent, so I suppose you could sing "happy birthday Prince Edward" (as opposed to "happy birthday dear Edward"), which would fit the verse and sound suitably respectful!

I am shortly to meet with Dame Mary Perkins of Specsavers fame. Can you please say how she should be addressed for the first time in a business environment? Thank you for your assistance. 

You should address Dame Mary Perkins as 'Dame Mary'. If you are introducing someone to this lady you would refer to her as 'Dame Mary Perkins'.
See: Addressing a Dame

I need to write a letter to The Hon. The Lord French of Thornhill, how do I address him? 

I'm afraid there seems to be no such title as 'Lord French of Thornhill'. It is certainly not a peerage title. It could be a Scottish Feudal Barony, but it doesn't sound like one. You could check this by contacting If there is no trace of him in their records, this would suggest that the title is an invention, and I can only suggest you open your letter 'Dear Sir'.

If a Scottish Peer wishes to use his coat of arms on his letters and especially on the back of the envelope.Would this be correct if writing to members of the English aristocracy /royalty? The title and lands are registered with The Lord Lyon of Scotland but this particular coat of arms has not yet been registered. 

I see no reason why your coat of arms, once it has been registered, should not be used on your writing paper; but as you are clearly in touch with the Lord Lyon, I think you might also put your enquiry to him.

How do I address the niece of an earl? ie her father is Lord Alfred Whatsit, brother of the Earl of Whatever. - I am guessing "The Hon...." 

Thank you for your enquiry. Unless the brother of the earl also has a peerage title (unlikely but not impossible), rather than just the courtesy title of the Hon, the daughter of the said brother is untitled (ie Miss Forename Surname).

I wonder if you would be so kind as to clarify a matter for me regarding  life peerages. I have read an article in  'Country Life' in which it is stated that a child of a Life Peer loses the title 'honourable' on the death of the ennobled parent. I wonder if you could clarify for me if this is the case. I was under the impression that the children of life peers retained the honorary title for their lives, not that of their parent (s). 

It is of course quite wrong to say that the children of life peers have the courtesy title of 'Hon' only for the life time of their ennobled parent. The children of life peers carry their courtesy titles for their own life time, just as the children of hereditary peers do. See Life Peers

I would be grateful if you can assist on the correct form for a client of mine who has just received a knighthood. His first name is John but he has chosen to use his second name Garry for the majority of his life. He is cited as John in the Honours list but would like to be known as Sir Garry.  Is this acceptable? 

I think it would be perfectly acceptable for your client to use his second Christian name together with his title, if this is what he wishes. Reference books would normally list him as 'SMITH', Sir (John) Garry, for example; and also have a cross-reference under SMITH, Sir Garry, see Smith, Sir J. G. See Knights

I am a little unclear as to the correct form of address for a peer - when should the person's first name be included? I am referring specifically to Lord Puttnam of Queensgate. Many people address him as Lord David Puttnam but I would say that David Lord Puttnam would be correct. 

Lord Puttnam can only be addressed as Lord Puttnam. The styles you suggest (Lord David Puttnam and David Lord Puttnam) are both incorrect and should never be used! Nor is it correct to refer to Lord Puttnam as Lord Puttnam of Queensgate. The 'of Queensgate' is his territorial designation and is not an integral part of his title. See Life Peers

I would be most grateful for your advice on the following. In July this year my sister-in-law, Jane XXX, is being ordained as a Deacon in the Church of England. Afterwards there is a splendid lunch to celebrate, to which she has kindly invited me. My problem is how do I address the envelope for my thank you letter?

Jane is the wife of the younger son of a peer, now deceased (the peer, not the husband!).  The current Baron, Lord XXX, has only one son and he is unmarried. My sister-in-law's husband, David, is next in line thereafter so, as the current heir is unmarried, is she the Hon Mrs XXX or the Hon Mrs David XXX?

Might the following be correct: The Revd Jane XXX, the Hon Mrs XXX? 

Thank you for your enquiry, which is probably as complicated a combination of titles as we have ever received! I think it would be perfectly correct to address an envelope to your sister-in-law upon her ordination as 'The Rev and Hon Mrs David XXX'.  I can think of a Countess who is also a Reverend, and she quite naturally wishes to be addressed as 'The Rev the Countess of Kimberley'. Alternatively, if you think your sister-in-law would prefer to be styled by her own Christian name, as a Deacon, she should be addressed as 'The Rev Jane XXX', for to use 'The Hon' with her own name would be to imply that she has a courtesy title in her own right. See Courtesy Titles

I work for a charity, and I am currently updating our database with the correct forms of address on all the records for people who have titles. However, I have become slightly stuck on one record and need to ask guidance on which is the correct form of address for the beginning of a letter and the envelope of a letter to Sir Guy Innes-Ker, 10th Duke of Roxburghe. As you no doubt are aware, he is a Scottish Duke but also holds an English Baronetcy. In this case, which takes precedence and how do we address him correctly? 

Thank you for your enquiry. A duke takes a far higher precedence than a baronet, so you should note that the correct form of address for the Duke of Roxburgh is The Duke of Roxburgh. If you wish to use a more formal style of address, you may amend this to His Grace The Duke of Roxburgh. The choice is yours. Depending on the formality of the letter, you should open your letter 'Dear Duke, and close it 'Yours sincerely', if the letter is fairly informal. Or, if very formal, 'My Lord Duke' and close it 'Yours faithfully'. See Dukes

Could you please give me some advice. I need to write to the married daughter of an Earl. She retains her title, first name, plus her married name. She is also a High Sheriff of a county. I would like to know how to open a letter and in person does one still address her as Lady xxxxx and thereafter does this always, in person, remain as Lady xxxxx when in conversation? 

Yes, you would address your envelope to Lady Mary Smith, for example (Smith being her married name). Open your letter 'Dear Lady Mary', and address her verbally as 'Lady Mary'. It is probably best to avoid repeatedly calling her 'Lady Mary', as this might sound rather annoying, but it is her correct form of address - unless of course she says 'oh, please call me Mary'! The fact that she is a High Sheriff does not in any way change her style of address. See Daughters of an Earl



Forms Of Address

the debrett's 500

the debrett's 500

the Debrett's 500

the Debrett's 500

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Royal Portraits