I am a bit of a stickler for correct usage of styles and titles. So it is a bit of a pet peeve of mine when these are used improperly. There has been talk on this site about how the press, typically in the US, still refers to HRH The Duchess of Cambridge by her maiden name, Kate Middleton. The main misuse of titles that bothers me is calling Elizabeth II, Queen of England. That bothers me because “Queen of England” is not her correct title! Her correct title, simplified here, is Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. England has not been a separate sovereign state since 1707.
Here is a little historical background on the issue. For centuries England and Scotland were separate sovereign kingdoms each with their own monarch. There was not always peace between the two states and England constantly tried to keep Scotland subdued. Edward I (1272-1307) is not known as the Hammer of the Scots for nothing! The Kingdoms of England and Scotland remained separate until 1603. Queen Elizabeth I of England died without issue and her closest relative that had a claim to the throne was her cousin James VI, King of Scots (1567-1625).
The accession of the Scottish king on the English throne did not politically unite the two nations. Both kingdoms were ruled by James but remained individual sovereign states that retained their own parliaments and laws. Although James liked to consider himself the King of Great Britain this title had no legal barring. From 1603 until 1707 (excluding the Commonwealth period) the title of the monarch was King or Queen of England and Scotland (they also called themselves the Kings of France but that is another story). In 1707 came the Act of Union uniting the Parliaments of England and Scotland creating the new nation of Great Britain. England and Scotland ceased to be independent sovereign states and were then, and now, considered separate states within the union. The title of the monarch changed accordingly and the titles of King or Queen of England and Scotland passed into history. Anne was Queen of England and Queen of Scots when the act was passed and her title was changed to Queen of Great Britain.
The title remained King or Queen of Great Britain for 93 years until the nation expanded once more. Ireland was included in the political union with Great Britain and the new state became the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. George III (1760-1820) was the monarch at the time and his title changed accordingly. From 1714 to 1837 The British monarch were also Electors and then Kings of Hanover (1814). Though their Hanoverian titles were listed among their British title, Britain and Hanover were ruled separately and were not politically unified.
In 1920 in the reign of King George V (1910-1936) a large portion of Ireland was given its independence and only the northern counties remained united with Britain. From that time until the present the title of the monarch has been King or Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Now having given the historical background on the evolution of the title of the British monarch I must be honest and say that I do miss the traditional titles of King or Queen of England and King or Queen of Scots. Those are in the past unless devolution comes to the UK and England and Scotland becomes independent once again. If that does happen I think we would see a return to how things were prior to 1707 when both England and Scotland shared the same monarch.
Surely though, Queen of England is indeed one of her correct titles, however many other concurrent Royal titles she may hold?
Queen of England is not listed among her titles.
I find that an odd omission; whereof immediate rectification should be provided by London, in light of the imminent referendum in Scotland with all that that may entail for sovereigns (and sovereignties) to come. For aught we can say, the next monarch of Scotland will be Duke Francis by virtue of the Stuart claim.
From what I understand, if the Scottish referendum passes they will become another Common Wealth country that has Elizabeth II as their Head of State.
Except they would call her: Elizabeth Queen of Scots!
It is not. She is queen of England only in the sense that England is part of the UK. As such, she does not need a distinct title as Queen of England. She is also Queen of Canada, and in Canada, that is one of her titles. However, her titles do not include Queen of Ontario, as Ontario is part within Canada.
Your Canadian analogy is rather flawed. The realm of England (which is an irreducible country unto itself) specifically constitutes an historic legacy regarding Elizabeth’s throne (in a way that neither Canada nor Ontario have ever done). Queen of England is implicit in her title from a thousand years of actual Kings and Queens of England. In fact, England is the crown jewel of her patrimony, as it were: central, irreplaceable, sine qua non, and definitive to British monarchy like no other nation of the Commonwealth. By contrast, Scotland and Wales, for example, have had a long history of their own (till the 17th and 16th centuries respectively) as sovereign foreign nations that were annexed by the English throne, just as they may sooner or later secede.
David Don: Absolute nonsense. This is the kind of english arrogance that will push the disintegration of the union. Although it is true it was scottish economic weakness that brought the unification of the parliaments, in terms of the union of the crowns England ran out of candidates and James VI gladly took up the chance to have the crown of the bigger country. You could say it was a Scottish takeover by the Scots royal family of the English crown! To make this clearer it would be better to refer to the two James who had the united crown as James VI and VII. If Elizabeth Windsor is Elizabeth II then this is only logical.)
If you are being pedantic: the title is not King or Queen of Scotland but King or Queen of Scots.
That is correct!
Hi Bill! xo Lulu
I wonder if the misuse of the title is a deliberate one in the US, where there are, as we know, both ardent supporters of a “free” Ireland and a “free” Scotland? I have often been surprised by the strength of these “nationaist” loyalties in Australia, New Zealand, the US and even South Africa. Genetically there is no difference between any of us in these ‘sceptred isles’ and I would consider myself British and am quite proud of the fact that I have English, Scots, Irish and Welsh ancestors. With a strong sprinkling of Norman, Danish and even Germanic genes …
I note too that certain sections of the British media also refer to the Duchess of Cambridge by her ‘Pet’ name, again, I think a deliberate action, but it could just as easily be ignorance.
Sorry to correct you, but ALL of Ireland was given its independence – but that there was a clause that (as they did the next day) the provinces of Northern Ireland opted out of the union with the remaining counties of Ireland and joined Great Britain and formed ‘the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’
If we’re going there wouldn’t her title incl. Canada and the other constitutional monarchies overseas not just “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”?
“Although James liked to consider himself the King of Great Britain this title had no legal barring.“
Can I make a small protest at this misuse of English terminology?
To receive the latest Royal Central posts straight to your email inbox, enter your email address below and press subscribe.