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Today it was announced that newlyweds Prince William and Kate Middleton will officially be known as the duke and duchess of Cambridge. But what, exactly, does that mean -- not to mention how do you decipher who's who on the royal wedding guest list? Find out, with the help of our a handy guide to British royal titles:
King: Male ruler of a kingdom.
Queen: Female ruler of a kingdom.
Prince: Ruler of a principality, which is a sovereign state; the title is granted (and can be revoked) by the sovereign.
Princess: A title generally held by either the daughters of a British sovereign, the male-line granddaughters of a British sovereign or the wife of a British prince.
Duke: A member of the nobility, historically of highest rank below the monarch, and historically controlling a duchy, which is a specific territory.
Duchess: The wife of a duke. (However, Camilla Parker Bowles is known as a duchess, a choice she made to avoid confusion with Prince Charles' first wife, Princess Diana.)
Marquess: A member of the nobility, traditionally a rank below duke. Though now obsolete, the distinction between an earl and a marquess used to be that a marquess' land, called a march, was on the border of the country, while an earl's land, called a county, often wasn't. A woman with the rank of marquess, or the wife of a marquess, is a marchioness.
Earl: A member of the nobility who ranks below a marquess and above viscount. In the 5th and 6th centuries, an earl collected fines and taxes and in return was entitled to a third of the money collected. Present day titleholders take their names from towns, mountains or surnames.
Viscount: A member of the nobility who ranks below an earl. The title originally referred to a person who served as a deputy or lieutenant of a count, or the sheriff of a county. Current titleholders usually take their name from a place, a surname or a combination of both.
Lord, Lady: Generally, any noble member except a duke or duchess is referred to as a lord (male) or lady (female) as are the children, former wives and other close relatives of the nobility.
Master: At one time used for men of rank, it now primarily is used for boys generally younger than 13 in formal correspondence, particularly invitations to formal events.
Sir: The formal reference for a knight and used with the full name, but not with the surname alone ("Sir Elton John," but not "Sir John"). A knighthood today recognizes significant contributions to national life and includes such people as actors, scientists, school leaders and industrialists. The female equivalent is a dame.