Royal and noble styles

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Styles represent the fashion by which monarchs and noblemen are properly addressed. Throughout history, many different styles were used, with little standardization. This page will detail the various styles used by royalty and nobility in Europe, in the final form arrived at in the nineteenth century.


Imperial, royal, and princely styles

Only those classified within the social class of royalty and upper nobility have a style of "Highness" attached before their title. Reigning bearers of forms of Highness included grand princes, grand dukes, sovereign princes, reigning dukes and princely counts, their families and the agnatic descendants of emperors and kings. Royals (usually emperors to princely counts) are all considered "princes" (German: Fürsten).

  • Emperors and Empresses enjoyed the style of His/Her Imperial Majesty (HIM).
  • Members of imperial families were generally styled His/Her Imperial Highness (HIH).
  • In Austria, the members of the Imperial family, due to their status as also members of the royal family of the Apostolic kingdom of Hungary, held the style of Imperial and Royal Highness (HI&RH), but actually traditionally the other way around: "königliche und kaiserliche Hoheit"[citation needed].
  • Also in the German Empire, the other 'heir' to the Holy Roman empire, the emperor and empress, would be addressed as Imperial and Royal Majesty because of their ruling over the Kingdom of Prussia and the German Empire.
  • In Russia, children and male-line grandchildren of the Emperor had the style of Imperial Highness (HIH). Male-line great-grandchildren held the style of Highness (HH). Also, the eldest son of any person who held the style of Highness also held the style of Highness. All other male-line descendants held the style Serenity, often translated as Serene Highness (HSH). Some Russian noble princes also hold the style of Serenity; all others and Russian princely counts hold the style of Illustriousness, often translated as Illustrious Highness (HILLH).
  • Members of royal families (princes and princesses) generally have the style of Royal Highness (HRH), although in some royal families (for instance, Denmark), more junior princes and princesses only bear the style of His or Her Highness (HH).
  • Reigning grand dukes and grand duchesses hold the style of Royal Highness (HRH).
  • The styles of members of grand ducal families have been inconsistent. In Luxembourg, more senior members of the family have also been Royal Highnesses, but only due to their status as Princes of Bourbon-Parma (itself an inconsistency as Parma was only ducal, but this family has male-line descent from kings of Etruria, Spain and France). In Baden and Hesse and by Rhine, junior members held the style of Grand Ducal Highness (HGDH). Members of other grand ducal families generally held the style of Highness (HH).

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