What The Royal Family's Signatures Look Like And Why It's Almost Impossible To Get An Autograph

We as a society have long been obsessed with getting someone's autograph. Well, not just anyone's autograph — the autograph of someone famous. It's sort of an odd tradition, and many people have wondered why we're so hell-bent on obtaining the signature of someone well-known. As Dr. Wendy Fonarow put it: "An autograph gives people who feel intimate with celebrities something tangible to possess, a personal touch. It's a form of cultural tourism more than anything else" (via The Guardian). Signatures can also garner obscene amounts of money. For example, a Babe Ruth-signed baseball is worth nearly $400,000 and Abraham Lincoln's signed Emancipation Proclamation is worth almost $4 million. 

Signatures you likely won't be getting, though, are those of the royal family. The royal family abstains from signing autographs due to the risk of forgery, so when asked, they politely decline. Some have even reported the royals blaming it on the powers that be, telling their subjects it's simply something they're not allowed to do. Since their signatures are so elusive, whenever they're available for the public to see, a photograph is taken — which also seems like a security risk, but who are we to say? Thanks to those assiduous photographers, we also have access to photographs of the royals' signatures, and we've rounded them all up for you to see. Feel free to judge their handwriting — we certainly did. 

Princess Catherine

If you aren't practicing your signature much, it probably isn't going to be very legible. Such is the case for Princess Catherine. The princess' signature isn't quite as perfect as you might expect. In one of the rare photos of her autograph, Catherine's name is barely readable. In fact, if it weren't attributed to the royal, you might not even be able to completely decode it. 

The princess' print is a little better, but not much. When signing the date, it looks more like Catherine quickly scribbled it than carefully printed it. But given that it's a security risk for the royals to sign their names, it makes sense that her signature is a little messy, as it makes it a little more difficult to forge.

Despite having a messy signature, Catherine has still been asked to sign her autograph. While visiting some elementary-aged children in London, a student asked the princess for her autograph. The princess said to the student: "My name's Catherine. I'm not allowed to write my signature, it's just one of those rules," as reported by People. Catherine didn't leave the students too disappointed, though. "I can't write my name, but I can draw," she told them instead.

Prince William

Prince William doesn't have the world's most legible signature either. Not by a long shot. The newly upgraded William, Prince of Wales has a signature that's even tougher to decode than his wife's autograph. To be fair, his signature being forged is probably more of a security risk than Princess Catherine's, but it's evident these two aren't signing autographs on the regular. What's more interesting than the signatures themselves, perhaps, are the reasons why the members of the royal family break the no-signature rule. In April 2023, Prince William broke the rule while attending an Anzac Day ceremony in London for soldiers from Australia and New Zealand killed in combat. William wrote: "In memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom" on a poppy wreath.

Prince William, a left-hander, was able to take on a new signature for official duties in the fall of 2022. When he became the Prince of Wales, his new position was reflected in his new signature: "William P." The "P" stands for Princeps or Princeps Cambriae/Walliae, which is Latin for the Prince of Wales. The royal first signed his name this way on a proclamation when he met with the Accession Council at their first meeting since the death of King George VI. King Charles III, Camilla, Queen Consort, and the Prime Minister were among the others to sign the same proclamation. 

Prince Harry

Since Prince Harry is no longer a senior member of the royal family, his signature might be the least security risk of all. Even still, seeing his signature is rare. And if you didn't know what you were looking at, you would probably have no idea that you were looking at Prince Harry's signature. Aside from the first letter, the entire thing is essentially unreadable, which is the theme of royal signatures, apparently. And if you thought his publishing a book would give the public access to his signature, think again. Though he went on a massive press tour to promote his memoir "Spare," Prince Harry didn't sign any copies, at least not any that were available for fans. Either old habits die hard, or it's still not entirely safe for his signature to circulate widely. 

While he isn't signing any merchandise, that hasn't stopped Prince Harry from asking other famous people for their signatures. While on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert," the host asked the prince if he's ever asked anyone for their autograph, to which he replied: "Yes ... The England rugby team in 2003, in the Telstra Stadium at the World Cup Final — after a few drinks, wearing the England rugby top. I was walking around going 'Johnny, Johnny! Mike, Mike! Lawrence, come on, sign my shirt' ... I got all 15 signatures" (via YouTube).

Meghan Markle

Of all the royal signatures, Meghan Markle has the most beautiful. Neat and stately, it looks like what you'd expect a royal's signature to look like, and unlike most of her in-laws, you can actually read it. It's also much fancier than the rest, including accouterment on both the first and last letters, making her signature look more like a digital font than the handwriting of a person. While she likely signed some autographs prior to joining the royal family thanks to her former occupation as an actor, handwriting experts do say Markle's signature changed when she became a royal. And that's not all handwriting experts have to say about her signature. 

As graphologist Michelle Dresbold told Good Housekeeping: "You can sense the hesitation in Meghan's signature. The whip stroke at the tail end of her name indicates that she's very hard on herself and trying to grasp how she wants to be perceived by the public." That wasn't all Dresbold gleaned from Meghan's signature, particularly regarding its changing nature. "Megan, on the other hand, is still trying to figure out how she wants to be perceived by the world, which is why her signature continues to change," she added.

King Charles III

Of all the royals alive today, King Charles III's signature has had the most iterations. That's solely because he's gone through the most titles. Charles has been known as Prince Charles of Edinburgh, The Duke of Cornwall, The Prince of Wales, and now, of course, The King of the United Kingdom. As we learned with Prince William, those title changes come with a signature change, too. While Prince William became William P, King Charles became Charles R. The "R" stands for "Rex," which means "king" in Latin. Since King Charles can't get any higher on the totem pole than he is now, he'll have this title until death, meaning it's his final signature change. 

The king's title change didn't only bring about a change in his signature, though. He also gained a new cipher. Per the royal website: "The cypher is the Sovereign's monogram, consisting of the initials of the monarch's name, Charles, and title, Rex — Latin for King, alongside a representation of the Crown." Ciphers are used for various official business duties, including mail and government documents. Queen Elizabeth II had her own royal cipher, which included the initials for her name and Latin title, Regina, and a crown above the letters, looking quite similar to the one King Charles chose. 

Camilla, Queen Consort

Another royal to be upgraded with a title change upon Queen Elizabeth II's death was Camilla, Queen Consort, formerly the Duchess of Cornwall. Like her husband, King Charles III, Camilla gained an "R" next to her name when she ascended to queen. Hers, however, stands for "Regina," which is Latin for "queen." The last woman to have an "R" with her name, of course, was Queen Elizabeth II. Unlike Queen Elizabeth, though, Camilla probably won't have to sign too many royal documents. The queen does, however, sign off her tweets with her new signature: "Camilla R."

Handwriting experts have taken the time to examine Camilla and Charles' signatures, too. According to graphologist Michelle Dresbold: "The top of Camilla's 'C' has a relaxed curve, and she doesn't write as intensely as Charles does. She writes bigger than he does and puts one line under her name, which are both signs of confidence. She doesn't put two lines underneath like Charles. This, again, shows that she wants to be recognized, but not as much as Charles does," as reported by Good Housekeeping. Whether or not Queen Camillia is as confident as her signature apparently indicates, she's got an "R" supporting her name now, and that's worth something. 

Prince Andrew

Prince Andrew doesn't sign documents too often, at least not to the media's knowledge. He does, however, go to events every now and again where he writes his signature for a good reason, like when he attended a ceremony that honored fallen soldiers. Upon the poppy wreath he laid, he included a note which said: "In special memory of all my comrades who died in the South Atlantic and Falkland Islands Conflict of 1982." The message was typed, but Prince Andrew's signature was handwritten. The conflict was an important one in Prince Andrew's life, as it was one that he fought himself as a helicopter pilot. 

If you'd like to get your hands on an authentic signature from the royal, you can, but it'll cost you. Various items that don Prince Andrew's signature are available for sale online, such as the painting "Sea King Rescue" by Robert Taylor. An edition that comes with Prince Andrew's signature can be purchased for £425.00. If you're more of a Fergie fan, an old Christmas card including her signature and Prince Andrew's is also available for sale online. The Christmas card is signed to a couple named Cyril and Eva, but nonetheless, it's got royal signatures on it.

Princess Beatrice

While most members of the royal family have their messages typed and add a signature, Princess Beatrice takes the time to write hers herself. After receiving a message of congratulations on her wedding, Beatrice wrote back to say thanks. In addition to her gratitude, she noted (via Instagram): "We are so grateful to all those who have worked hard to protect our communities over the last few months," as her wedding occurred in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Because her handwriting is more available to the public than most royals, it's able to be analyzed more closely. Most of her family only has a signature or a few sentences of handwriting to go off, but Princess Beatrice's entire font has been decoded by experts. "She is sociable, communicative and versatile but she also gets bored easily and can have trouble concentrating on one project for long," handwriting pro Emma Bache told Express of Beatrice's penmanship. "The handwriting has a natural flow and energy with a mixture of thread like joining strokes as well as more copybook arcaded links between individual letters." If handwriting could say more than what it literally says, apparently it would have a lot to say about this royal. 

Princess Eugenie

One member of the royal family who keeps a relatively low profile is Princess Eugenie. The younger sister of Princess Beatrice, she hasn't been quite as prolific in her handwritten thank-you notes as her sibling. In 2022, however, Eugenie gave more light to her handwriting than ever before when she posted a photo of a message she wrote on a sticky note that said: "To Do: To inspire action and change for the ocean." That little bit of handwriting was analyzed by forensic handwriting examiner Sheila Lowe who told Express: "She comes from a family that doesn't talk directly about their feelings, but instead, talks around them (or doesn't talk at all). She is a person of strong feelings, but is careful about how she expresses them."

The expert made another striking note about Princess Eugenie's handwriting and how it reminded her of Princess Diana's. There's no blood relation between Princess Diana and Princess Eugenie, and there's little evidence to suggest that handwriting is genetic anyway, so if there are similarities between the two princesses' handwriting, it's likely due to similarities in their personalities. 

However, according to Ordway Hilton who wrote a book on the science behind handwriting, "similarities in handwriting produced by family members do sometimes exist when a writer imitates the characters of another family member or even a respected acquaintance" (via Live Science). So, perhaps Eugenie modeled her handwriting after her aunt as a young girl. 

Prince Edward

If there's anything royals love to sign, it's a note that's attached to a wreath. Prince Edward is another royal on the list who's lent his appellation to a note to honor fallen soldiers. "To remember all who have made the ultimate sacrifice especially members of the Volunteer Reserve Forces," Prince Edward wrote, finishing his message by naming some specific veterans. Prince Edward wrote this particular note in 2013 but has honored soldiers on Remembrance Sunday, the day on which he left this note, several times since. The holiday was especially emotional in 2022 as it was the first time the royal family had gathered in its honor since Queen Elizabeth II's death. 

Several other members of the royal family laid their own wreaths on this November day, including Princess Anne and Prince William. In addition to laying wreaths, the day's events include a parade and an acknowledgment of those who have died. There also exists a large display of crosses, each one in remembrance of a fallen soldier, at the Field of Remembrance, and in 2022, one cross was saved for Queen Elizabeth, whose photo was included. That year, over 10,000 people took part in the public ceremony. 

Princess Anne

No one in the royal family is safe from scrutiny. Every detail of their lives — those known to the public and those thought to be private — is analyzed, and the media constantly tries to surmise what each royal family member's personality is like. And they'll use any clues at their disposal to form a theory. As we've learned, handwriting is one of those major clues, despite having so little information to use. An expert graphologist spoke to Express about what can be determined about Princess Anne's personality based on her handwriting, and like most royals, there seems to be quite a bit. 

"Anne shows a sharp intelligence with high pointed stroke on capital 'A' but the curved start and end strokes show an excellent sense of humour to counter her more spiky personality," graphologist Emma Bache said. "She is likely to take life's ups and downs with resilience. She is not prone to moodiness." Take what the graphologists say in stride, though, because according to one 2015 study, "[graphology's] reliability and effectiveness as a method of assessing personality and behavior is not established and is still a debatable issue." Nevertheless, it's fun to see royal signatures!