What’s Her Name? Kate Middleton versus Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge

There has been lots and lots of Twitter talk lately about a topic I’ve always found most interesting: Kate’s name. Yup, you read that correctly, her name. Staunch supporters of tradition and the monarchy become wildly upset when Kate is referred to by her maiden name, Kate Middleton, whereas reporters and bloggers often use her maiden name when referring to her in articles. In an effort to figure out what all the “fuss” is about, I thought it would be worth looking into- and then asking, as we do, what Kate herself would likely prefer.

Don't Worry Kate, we're Confused Too!

Don’t Worry Kate, we’re Confused Too!

For the first years that the world started to meet Kate, we knew her as Miss Catherine Elizabeth – commonly Kate –  Middleton. We learned how she and William fell in love at St. Andrews from the time they started dating (back in 2002) and up until her wedding it was the only name we could realistically call her by – unless we went by “Waity Kaity”. Given the intense media attention she received before marrying Prince William, people really got to know her, her style and her brand as Kate Middleton. Her name “changed” as of April 29, 2011 when she married into the Royal family. The former Kate Middleton became Her Royal Highness Princess William, Duchess of Cambridge, Countess of Strathearn, Baroness Carrickfergus.

So why do reporters not refer to her as Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge? Well, we deduce that there are three reasons:

  1. As we mentioned above, Kate is most well-known to the world as Kate Middleton. For almost 9 years, we got to know and fall in love ourselves with the woman as Kate. When reporters are writing stories about her, they frequently use this name as a shorthand for Kate because it is how they were introduced to her. I imagine that it didn’t change to add a royal title after she got married because Kate did not become a Princess in her own right (and name) through marriage right away, it doesn’t make for the catchy “Princess Kate”.
  2. As someone familiar with Search-Engine Optimization and keywords (which, if you don’t know is how sites use keywords to get more traffic to their articles through the use of frequently used keywords that people type into Google) the search term “Kate Middleton” is about ten thousand times more popular than “Duchess Kate” or any other combination of her name. Because many sites out there are for-profit, they have to take these things into account when writing stories or they will risk having fewer readers, and conversely, smaller profits which will not allow them to keep providing the great coverage that they do.
  3. Perhaps most glaringly is that given her position in the Royal Family, her title will not be Duchess Catherine of Cambridge for the rest of her life. In fact, we could assume that in the next couple of years she could be Princess Consort, Queen Consort, Princess of Wales, Princess William of Wales or some other combination of titles. Note: We’re definitely not an expert on titles, so check out our friends at RoyalCentral who have all the info there. So even if the media wanted to start calling her by her title, it would change and referencing back to #1 and #2, wouldn’t work for their readership models.

There is no doubt that surely the Palace wants the Public to call her Catherine- just as they likely disliked “Lady Di” or “Fergie”- but the media have dubbed her Kate from Day 1 and I sincerely doubt that she’ll ever be Princess Catherine or even Queen Catherine to the media, despite the Palace’s best attempts. It’s certainly not a lack of respect or sign of ignorance that the media continue to call her Kate – it’s a sign of the extremely heightened media times we’re living in and the importance of a keyword in an internet search string. If you really wanted to start having reporters change their titles for Kate, it would be best to have the entire world start searching for Google Keywords “Duchess Catherine”. But even if you could change the way people Googled, refer back to point #3 above- you’d have to do it at least a couple more times in her life.

William and Catherine's autographs from Asian Tour 2012 Day 2

William and Catherine’s autographs from Asian Tour 2012 Day 2

But what about Kate in this whole situation? We know what the Palace wants (Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge) and we know what the media want (Kate Middleton) but what about Kate herself? Well, we can deduce her thoughts based on limited verbal confirmation from Kate herself. For example there was the story awhile ago about how she forgot her cash and cards at home when visiting a local shop in Anglesley- and said her name was Mrs. Cambridge. And while William now uses Catherine in public in most things we see where she is mentioned, it’s also pretty sure that if he referred to her as Kate for the first 9 years of their relationship, she’s still Kate to him and her family and friends- but formally, it’s now Catherine.

So to those of you out there concerned with us using Kate’s name incorrectly, please rest assured that we know Kate’s name and formal title- and have the utmost respect for it. We have gotten to know her as Kate though, and until she comes out and says “I hate being called Kate!” we will likely continue to refer to Her Royal Highness Princess William, Duchess of Cambridge, Countess of Strathearn, Baroness Carrickfergus as just Kate.

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Amanda is the Media & Operations Director for Effervescence Media Group (otherwise known as behind-the-scenes editor of What Would Kate Do? and The Refined Side). When she isn’t blogging, she can be found with a nice glass of red wine or browsing a vintage shop. Her interests are varied and include vintage couture, etiquette, and the financial markets. She resides in Vancouver, British Columbia
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  1. […] are two things that I now know for sure: 1- British Prime Minister David Cameron is as confused as the rest of us on what we should call Kate and 2 – Maternity fashion is not going to be a problem for Duchess […]