A Style is a form of address which by tradition or law precedes a reference to a person who holds a title or post, or to the office itself. A style can also be awarded to an individual in a personal capacity. Styles are particularly associated with monarchies, where they may be used by a female marital partner of an office holder or of a prince of the blood, for the duration of their marriage. They are also universally used for presidents in republics and in many countries for members of Parliament, judges and senior constitutional office holders. Leading religious figures also have styles.
Examples of Styles
- His All Holiness (abbreviation HAH, verbal address Your All Holiness) — The Patriarch of Constantinople
- His Holiness (abbreviation HH, verbal address Your Holiness) — The Pope of Rome, The Dalai Lama, The Coptic Pope
- His Beatitude (verbal address Your Beatitude) — Eastern and Oriental Patriarchs
- His Eminence (verbal address Your Eminence) — Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, Eastern Orthodox Metropolitans
- The Most Reverend (abbreviation The Most Rev., verbal address Your Excellency) — Roman Catholic Archbishops and Bishops in the United States.
- His Grace or The Most Reverend (abbreviation for latter The Most Rev., verbal address Your Grace) — Roman Catholic Archbishops in Commonwealth countries, Eastern Orthodox Bishops
- His Lordship or The Right Honourable (abbreviation for latter The Rt Rev., verbal address My Lord Bishop) — Roman Catholic Bishops in Commonwealth countries.
- The Most Reverend and Right Honourable (abbreviation The Most Rev. and Rt Hon., verbal address Your Grace) — Anglican Archbishops of Canterbury and York
- The Right Reverend and Right Honourable (abbreviation The Rt Rev. and Rt Hon., verbal address Bishop) — Anglican Bishop of London
- The Right Reverend (abbreviation The Rt Rev., verbal address Bishop) — other Anglican Bishops
- His/Her Majesty (abbreviation HM, verbal address Your Majesty) — Kings and Queens
- His/Her Royal Highness (abbreviation HRH, verbal address Your Royal Highness) — other members of a Royal House
- His/Her Serene Highness (abbreviation HSH, verbal address Your Serene Highness) — members of a Princely House
- His Excellency (abbreviation HE, verbal address Your Excellency) — Governors-General
Similar styles are used universally in republics worldwide.
In the United Kingdom
In legislative bodies
Political Titles Used as Styles
British Prime Ministers are addressed as Prime Minister. Irish Taoisigh (prime ministers) are addressed singularly as Taoiseach. Other Irish, American, and British politicians are similarly addressed by their title alone, for example "Thank you, Governor" or "Good afternoon, Senator."
In most other countries politicians are addressed by their title preceded by Mister or Madam depending on the gender of the holder. For example Mr. Minister, Madam Secretary, Mr. Mayor, etc. This manner of address is also frequently used by members of the international media who may not be familiar with a politician's specific honorific title, but still want to show respect.
Styles Existing Through Marriage
Whereas, in the United Kingdom, The Princess Royal is styled HRH, her husband, Timothy Laurence, has no style. In contrast, when Censored page married Censored page, as Princess Edward or The Countess of Wessex she has an HRH, by virtue of her marriage to a royal prince. Similarly, while the sons of The Prince of Wales and the daughters of The Duke of York have HRH styles, the children of The Princess Royal have no styles. (She requested that they be given no courtesy titles or peerages).
All former monarchies had styles, some, as in the Bourbon monarchy of France, extremely complicated depending on the status of the office or office-holder. Otto von Habsburg, who was Crown Prince of Austria-Hungary (1916-1918), had the style 'His Imperial Highness'. He was last addressed as such by church figures during the funeral of his late mother, Empress-Queen Zita of Austria-Hungary in 1989, although the use of these styles is prohibited in Austria since 1920. http://www.ris.bka.gv.at/taweb-cgi/taweb?x=d&o=d&v=bnd&d=BND&i=13945&p=3&q=%20%2
Styles & Titles of Deposed Monarchs
General tradition indicates that where a monarch has been deposed but has not abdicated, they retain the use of their style and title for the duration of their lifetime, but both die with them. Hence Greece's deposed king is still technically His Majesty King Constantine II of the Hellenes, as a personal title, not a constitutional office, since the declaration of the Hellenic Republic in 1973-4. Similarly, until his death the last King of Italy, King Umberto II, was technically entitled to be called His Majesty the King of Italy or Your Majesty. In contrast, the ex-King Michael I of Romania, who abdicated his throne in 1947, technically lost the use of his title, though out of politeness, he may still be called His Majesty the King or Your Majesty. (While this rule is generally observed, and indeed some exiled monarchs are allowed diplomatic passports by their former state, other states take offence at the use of such titles. The current Hellenic Republic has long challenged King Constantine's right to use his title; in 1981, the then Greek President Constantine Karamanlis declined to attend the wedding of the Prince of Wales when it was revealed that Greece's deposed monarch, a friend of the Prince, had been referred to as 'King' in his invitation.)
The late Diana, Princess of Wales held the style Her Royal Highness or HRH during her marriage to HRH The Prince of Wales. Her marital status was indicated by the title Princess of Wales. When the couple divorced, she lost her title which only existed by virtue of her marriage to a royal prince, becoming instead Diana, Princess of Wales. While there was the option of awarding an HRH style to Diana, Princess of Wales in her personal capacity (which could be justified, given that she was the mother of a future king), it was decided not to award her the style. As a result, from the moment of her divorce until her death, she ceased to hold any formal style, though out of courtesy, many people still applied the style 'HRH' to her. Similarly when Sarah, Duchess of York was divorced from her husband, HRH The Duke of York, she too lost her HRH style. Controversially, Wallis Simpson was not given the HRH style by King George VI when she married his brother, the former King Edward VIII, by then known as HRH The Duke of Windsor. The fear was that, even though if the couple divorced (she had already divorced two husbands) she would lose the style, she could conceivably still try to use it, undermining its status and respect.
Other Parallel Symbols
Styles were often one of a range of symbols that surrounded figures of high office. Everything from the manner of address to the behaviour of a person on meeting that personage was surrounded by traditional symbols. Monarchs were to be bowed to by men and curtsied to by women. Senior clergy, particularly in the Roman Catholic Church, were to have their rings (the symbol of their authority) kissed on bended knee, while cardinals in an act of homage at the papal coronation were meant to kiss the feet of the Supreme Pontiff, the Pope.
Many of these traditions have lapsed or been partially abandoned. At his inauguration as pope in 1978 (itself the abandonment of the traditional millennium-old papal coronation), Pope John Paul II himself kissed cardinals on the cheeks, rather than follow the traditional method of homage, having his feet kissed. Curtsies have for many years been no longer obligatory when meeting members of the British Royal Family; indeed some royals positively hate being curtsied to. One described the experience of a row of curtseying women, bobbing up and down, as leaving them 'sea-sick'. (Curiously, Americans seem more attached to the curtseying to British royalty than most British people.)
As a result, styles, though still used, are used less often. The current President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, is usually referred to as President Mary McAleese, not President McAleese, as had been the form used for the first six presidents, from President Hyde to President Hillery. Tony Blair asked initially to be called Tony. In a break with tradition, though as the second in line to the throne and a son of a royal prince, Prince William of Wales formally has a HRH style, he has chosen while in university not to use it. The United States has become one of the most informal countries in the world, style-wise, with titles such as Excellency now largely abandoned or ignored, even by those who legally have them. First names, or even nicknames are often widely used among politicians in the US, even in formal situations. One notable exception involves judges: a judge of any court is almost invariably addressed as "Your Honor" while presiding over his or her court, and often at other times as well.
However, styles are still widely used in formal documents and correspondence between heads of state, such as in a Letter of Credence accrediting an ambassador from one head of state to another.
- Forms of Address for use orally and in correpondence (UK Crown Office) http://www.lcd.gov.uk/dept/titles.htm
- Table of titles to be used in Canada (Canadian Heritage) http://www.pch.gc.ca/progs/cpsc-ccsp/pe/titre_e.cfm
1 Though Republic of Ireland does not possess a Privy Council, the style is still used. The Lord Mayor of Dublin is still styled the Rt. Honourable, as previous lords mayor were ex-officio members of the Irish Privy Council .
Last updated: 05-02-2005 12:28:01