The Real Reason Kate Middleton And Prince William's Royal Titles Just Changed

Prince William and Kate Middleton, in conjunction with their royal duties, have embarked on a two day trip to Scotland, including stops in Glasgow and Edinburgh. The royal couple's appearances are in association with the U.K.'s Mental Health Awareness Week, per Express.

In Glasgow, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended a program called "Roots of Empathy." Administered by Action for Children, the program features a partnership between babies and elementary school children, per People. The infant visitors, along with a parent, offer an opportunity for school-aged children to learn about emotions. "Roots of Empathy" combines two causes, early childhood development and mental health, which are close to the duchess's heart as part of her inspiring charity work.

While still visiting Glasgow organizations, William and Kate additionally talked with University of Glasgow students about mental health challenges during the pandemic. Moving on to Edinburgh, William attended the Hearts Football Club to learn about "Changing Room," a program that combines football and men's mental health, per Mirror.

As they tour Scotland to learn about these important programs, chances are good that people who talk with William and Kate may address them by a different, less familiar title, rather than Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Prince William and Kate have multiple, location-dependent titles

When they got married on April 29, 2011, Prince William and Kate Middleton each received three titles from Queen Elizabeth. While they are best known as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Her Majesty also bestowed the newlyweds with the titles Earl and Countess of Strathearn, as well as Baron and Lady Carrickfergus, per My London. These titles are location specific: when William is visiting Scotland, he uses his title Earl of Strathearn. When Kate is in Northern Ireland, she is referred to as Lady Carrickfergus.

William and Kate aren't the only royals with location-based titles. According to British Heritage, Prince Charles has three Scottish titles: Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, and Baron of Renfrew. However, he typically is referred to as Duke of Rothesay, and Camilla Parker Bowles uses the title Duchess of Rothesay. Prior to stepping down as working royals, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were known as Earl and Countess of Dumbarton in Scotland. In Northern Ireland, their titles were Baron and Baroness Kilkeel, per Tatler.

When it comes to the royal titles, William and Kate have signaled they may change protocol and modernize the monarchy. When they visited Wales in March, William and Kate impressed a royal fan with their relaxed demeanor. Furthermore, after the controversial Caribbean tour, a royal source told the Mirror, "They want to be more approachable, less formal, less stuffy and break away with a lot of the tradition." 

William and Kate's royal titles will change over time

As he ascends the royal ranks, Prince William's titles will change. When Prince Charles becomes king, William will assume some of his father's current titles. "The Duke of Cambridge will automatically become Duke of Cornwall and Duke of Rothesay amongst other titles that are assumed by the heir to the throne," royal expert Iain MacMarthanne told Marie Claire.

Kate Middleton's titles will also change. It is likely she will no longer use the Duchess of Cambridge title, which could then be bestowed on someone else. Kate will gain the titles Duchess of Cornwall and Duchess of Rothesay, per My London.

As for the titles Prince and Princess of Wales, MacMarthanne says Charles can choose to give the title as a gift to William, since it isn't inherited (via Marie Claire). It is likely that Charles will bestow the Prince of Wales title on William, making Kate the Princess of Wales. Currently, Camilla Parker Bowles has opted not to use the Princess of Wales title out of respect for the late Princess Diana's memory (via Town & Country.) Presuming Kate does assume the title, it will be a choice laden with emotion. 

"I'm sure it'll be a bit of a bittersweet moment," a royal source told The Telegraph. "This is her [Diana's] son and his wife, so in some ways it will be coming full circle — but it will also be a poignant reminder of what we all lost."