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When Kate Middleton marries Prince William, will she be known as Mrs. Prince William or Ms. Kate Windsor? Or Miss Princess Catherine? Or maybe she'll inherit Princess Diana's title, the Princess of Wales?
The fact is, no one -- not even Kate herself -- knows quite what her married name will be, due to the complexities involved in royal monikers. As royal expert Laura Trevelyan explains to the BBC:
"As things stand, she will become Her Royal Highness Princess William of Wales when she gets married because William doesn't have a territorial title. He is a royal prince. However, if as expected, the Queen confers an Earldom or a Dukedom on William, either before or after his marriage, then she will be Catherine, Countess of X if William is given an Earldom, or Catherine, Duchess of X if William is given a Dukedom. In the grand scheme of things, a Duke is senior to an Earl so William could well become a Duke as he is in direct line to the throne."
Got all that?
One thing is certain though: She won't be allowed to do the ever-popular hyphenation of one's maiden name with a partner's last name. As Tevelyan exclaims, "She is marrying into royalty!"
But let's say for argument's sake that she was able to hyphenate her name... What would happen with her royal offspring? And if they kept the hyphenation, what would become of Kate and William's daughter when she takes her own walk down the aisle and -- as luck would have it -- marries a person with a similarly hyphenated name? Does the bride take on four surnames, becoming Princess Baby Middleton-Windsor-Smith-Jones? Does she give up her own last name(s) entirely and turn into Mrs. Baby Smith-Jones? Should she swap out one of her surnames and take on one of his, thus becoming Ms. Baby Windsor-Jones? Should the couple mashup all their last names and become Mr. and Mrs. MidWinSmiJo? Royal naming complexities indeed.
In any case, it's one problem Kate won't need to worry about. The rest of us, however, owe it to our kids to think ahead to a future in which hyphenated men marrying hyphenated women could be the norm. One thing's for sure: Those spaces on forms for last names are going to have to get a whole lot longer.
Would you hyphenate your last name with your partner's? Chime in below!